Excerpts – Wild

Excerpts from Among Wild Animals and People in Australia

Chapter Nine, The concept of bushman and life in the bush.

Page 68.

“I saw one such fellow come down to the coastal hovels of Derby to celebrate his holidays. He had two beautiful horses, riding one and the other serving as packhorse. He had saved a cheque of one hundred and twenty five pounds* (about 2,250 kronor). This he then handed over as normal to the publican. This is called ‘to knock down a check’. He was then allowed to drink as much as he wanted, he invited or ‘shouted’ all he found. So it went, day after day, drunk or half-drunk individuals hanging in droves at the bar, the drinking was brisk. Here and there on the bar floor or on the ground outside thugs lay and slept off the intoxication. ‘The host’ continued to offer drinks and was the hero of the day in the eyes of the the liquor-craving crowd.

One week plus a few days passed. The publican announces that the check is drunk up and our man cannot get any more drinks. No accounting has been taken, but of course this to the publican’s advantage. It does not bother him if ten of twenty pounds are still available. These, and more, the publican put into his own pocket. As soon as the money was said to be finished, all considerations end, and the now, out-of-pocket, man is asked to clear out.

Still influenced by alcohol our man could not stand against the temptation to continue drinking, sells his two horses, with saddles, and continues to party as long as it lasts. In the end he was as poor as the other rogues around the bar, took his blanket and his ‘billy’, and left drunken and dulled into the bush to find a ‘job’ at some station, with the intention to again save money towards the next holiday.”

  • = £125  is equivalent to about $18,000 in 2020.

Chapter Twelve, Through the bush in the heat

Page 81

“Forward through the burning hot pindan. Sun stood at its highest in the sky, no breeze softening its devouring rays. The eucalypts stood there like the last, more resistant remains from the previous wet season, although their leaves drooped considerably, the were still green and full of life. On the ground, yellow leaves and straw lay in drifts. Only one single Sedum plant kept itself almost defiantly healthy and verdant, where, in the middle of the dry it had enough strength to adorn itself with a rich vestment of small pale-red flowers. Where it stood offered a picture of wellbeing. This, in the middle of the desert where the sand actually burned through the soles of shoes and where all solid items were unbearably, painfully hot!”

Chapter Twenty-Four, Life at the headquarters

Page 198

“During the large gold rush several decades back, masses of Chinese arrived at the gold fields, especially in northern Queensland. In many places the blacks kept the foreign immigrants, yellow and white at bay and much bloodshed occurred.

The blacks, who never feel queasy, then prepared a good meal of the Chinese, whenever an opportunity occurred.

I have encountered old gold-miners from the Palmer Goldfields in Queensland. They told me, that during the rush it was common to see browned Chinese feet peep out from the black’s baskets made of plant fibers. Speaking of cannibalism, the semi-civilized Negroes used to let slip, that the Chinaman was tastier as he did not taste as salty as the white: ‘Chinaman, he all right, he all the same fish, white fella too salt’. The Chinaman lives mainly on his rice and his flesh becomes less salty and tastes fishier that that of the white.”