A LOG ON THE FIRE, GRAB A DRINK
AND MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME
After an enjoyable few months as resident poets at the Bailey Bar Caravan Park performing our show 'Laughter & Tears From The Bush', Chris and I decided we'd like to do a bit of bush camping. We headed out for the Ward River on the Charleville-Quilpie road and found a great camping spot away from the highway and on the edge of the river, shaded by tall, twisted, gum trees and alive with bird life. Our intentions were to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet, do a bit of fishing, and generally take it easy.
We'd set up camp and soon had the lines set, anticipating a feed of yellow-belly for tea. I think we must have left our run a bit late, as our tally showed that every man and his dog must have been there before us, as our catch was
undersize and we had to throw back all that we'd caught. That's all except the euro, but we weren't fussed on eating the old mate and decided to cremate him instead. They're certainly stuffing up the river systems. Not to be beaten we decided to support the beef industry and cooked a few steaks instead.
Early next morning I thought I'd try my luck again and set a few lines. To fill in time I used a rod to cast out past the edge of some reeds on the bend in the river and next minute the slack disappeared in the line and the rod lay over. I gave it the customary jerk and began reeling in what ever had taken the bait. To my surprise I found myself reeling in a wild duck that had latched on as the bait hit the water and did he put on a shindig.
It was near impossible to get the hook out of the old mate's mouth so I found myself having to make a decision on what to do. He was beyond saving, I reasoned, and as it didn't look like we were going to score a feed of fish, a bit of
roast duck would go down just as well. With my mind made up I went about preparing the duck for lunch. With the old mate plucked I washed him in the river and as I turned to go up the bank I could hear an outboard-motor close by.
To my surprise it was two fishery inspectors heading my way and my first thought was. Is it duck season or not? Not willing to take a gamble I tossed the poor creature into the water and tried to get rid of as many feathers as I could. The inspectors stopped the motor and surveying the area they obviously spotted the feathers still attached to my boots.
"Have you been duck shooting at all mate," said one of the inspectors as he tied the boat to a branch overhanging the water.
"No way mate! I can honestly say that I have not been duck shooting!"
"That's good," said his mate. "You know it's out of season, don't you?"
"Well I didn't to tell you the truth, but I'm glad you told me."
The feathers didn't help my cause at all and as they looked around one said.
"Have you seen a duck at all today mate?"
With no way of ducking for cover I blurted out.
"Well to tell you the truth, I have seen a duck this morning."
"I thought you might have," said the inspector with a grin on his face, "and where might it be now?"
With just as silly a grin on my face I replied.
"He's around the bend beyond the reeds there having a swim. I'm just minding his clothes."
PIG DOG TALE
Though I live in Bargara these days, I still have strong ties with Goondiwindi my place of birth. Many of my mother's family still live there as well as my eldest son Shane, his wife Kate and their daughter Danielle. My wife Chris and I called in after the Tamworth Festival in 1997 and spent some time with them before heading home.
One afternoon Shane and I were talking in the lounge room about this and that, when the subject of peer pressure came up.
"You know lad," I said, "when I was a young fella your peers judged you on how good a ute you had. Mag wheels were all the go and one had to have a fox tail hanging from the car aerial. Brylcream was for the dags as Californian Poppy was all the go. The sheilas went mad over it."
"Well it's all changed now dad," he replied, " your peers out here these days judge you on how good a pig dog you've got."
"Pig dog," I replied, feeling a little taken back from the comment.
"Yes, dad, how good a pig dog you've got."
Suddenly in through the door, like he'd been waiting for the cue, came this big lump of a dog.
"This is Tiger dad, the best pig dog in Goondiwindi."
For the next hour the young fella heaped accolades on this great lump of a dog called Tiger and begged me to go out pigging with him so as he could show me just how smart a dog he was. I tried to fob him off with excuses, but failed miserably and come Saturday afternoon we were in the young fella's ute heading out to the Common. There was a large gully that ran down to the McIntyre and it was covered with lignum bush, a favourite haunt for pigs. We pulled up and grabbed a few sugar bagsfrom the back of the ute. They came in handy if you caught a pig, as you could push the pig inside the bag and tie it off and leave it beside a tree until you picked it up on the way back. The lad called Tiger and he responded immediately by jumping out of the ute and racing around in circles, ears pricked and tail wagging all over the place.
Bags in tow, we followed Tiger, who headed off down along the gully sniffing and poking
his nose in the air, as if he'd found a pig already. Suddenly, up ahead, Tiger raced in under a lignum bush and thirty seconds later he came racing back and sat himself down in front of the lad in a begging stance with one paw pointing in the direction of the lignum bush.
"What's wrong with the dog?" I asked the lad, "Seems to be acting a bit queer ain't he?"
"No dad, there's nothing wrong with him, he's just smart. He's trying to tell us there's one pig in there."
"Get out with you," I sarcastically replied.
"No dad, there'll be one pig in there for sure. Get on him Tiger!"
The young dog never hesitated and flew in under the lignum bush and within a matter of seconds you could hear a pig squealing from within. Sure enough, upon investigation, Tiger had one pig bailed up. Before long we had it in a sugar bag and left it under a gum tree ready to be picked up on the way back.
"See what I mean dad. He sure is a smart dog."
Not totally convinced I followed as Tiger set off along the gully once more.
A few minutes later we approached another lignum bush and Tiger was off once more. He was only under the bush for a moment or two when he came racing back and sat in a begging stance once more in front of the lad, this time with both paws facing in the direction of the bush. Amazed at the dog's antics I wasn't about to give in to the obvious and remarked,
"You don't expect me to believe he's telling us there's two pigs in that bush. Do you boy?"
"Too right dad," he replied. "I told you he was a smart dog. Get on them Tiger!"
The dog immediately obeyed and flew in under the bush.
Within seconds you could hear this pig squealing and upon investigating we found him doing battle with it. After a bit of a struggle and finally pushing it in the bag I realised he'd only caught one.
"I thought you said there'd be two pigs in here," I sarcastically hinted.
"Give him a chance dad," he replied and before I could say another word
I could hear another pig squealing. There was no doubt about it, Tiger had a second pig bailed up and before long we had him in a sugar bag and lying next to its mate.
It was hard to ignore that Tiger's tally was now three pigs and I was slowly succumbing to the fact that he was indeed a very smart dog. Then up ahead of us the gully ran into the McIntyre and along the banks was the biggest patch of lignum I had ever seen. Young Tiger never hesitated though and flew in under the bush as if he had
great expectations on his mind. He was out of sight for about two minutes, when suddenly he came screaming out of the bush with his tail between his legs and making mournful yells Iike a dingo giving birth to a reaping hook.
He raced over towards a large gum tree and picked up a stick in his mouth and began poking his head all over the place and racing 'round and 'round the tree. He had me beat and by the look on the young fella’s face he was dumbstruck as well.
"What the hell's up with the dog boy?" I queried, as I watched him carrying out his mad antics 'round the tree.
"Dunno dad," replied the lad, " I've never seen him go on like this before."
Determined to solve the mystery we began creeping up to the bush and crawled in under to see what had sent the dog stark raving mad. About three metres in we were suddenly besieged by a rush of wild pigs. They went clean over the top of us and underneath us, squealing and kicking as they went. Totally bewildered by the whole fiasco, we finally began to compose ourselves, scratching the pig dung out of our hair and wiping the bristles off our clothes.
As we scrambled back out of the bush the first thing that came to my attention was that mad dog with that stick in his mouth poking his head all over the place and still running 'round and 'round the tree. I just sat there at the entrance to the bush for a while, meditating on why the hell Tiger was going on like he was. Then it suddenly hit me.
"You know lad," I said to the boy, "that Tiger is smarter than you think he is."
"What do you mean dad?" the lad replied, quite bewildered by the whole ordeal.
"You know, when he came racing out of that lignum bush and picked up that stick in his mouth and began poking his head all about the place, running 'round and 'round that tree. Well, he was trying to tell you something."
"You reckon, just what was he trying to tell me then?"
"Boy," I replied. "He was trying to tell you that there were more pigs in there than you could poke a stick at!"
THE PESSIMIST AND
On a small outback station run in Western Queensland, a rather nervous Cocky paces up and down the lounge room floor while the Flying Doctor tends to his wife in the bedroom.
Suddenly, there penetrates through the walls the joyous cry of a new born infant.
Thinking it's all over the Cocky looks anxiously towards the door as the Doctor pokes his
head out only to tell him there's another on the way.
"Strewth. Twins!" exclaims the proud father.
Soon all are gathered around the bed as his wife cuddles and proudly displays the twin boys.
"The babies and the wife going to be all right?" he nervously enquires of the Doctor.
"Certainly sir," responds the Doc, "but concerning the twin boys I feel there is
something you ought to know."
"And what's that Doc?" asks the Cocky with apprehension in his voice.
"You've got two fine sons there my man, but in time you will find that one of them
will be a pessimist and the other will be an optimist."
"Go on with yuh," replies the Cocky, "how do you know that?"
"You just watch and see if I'm not right," asserted the Doctor.
"Anyway all the best and I'll catch up with you another time."
The Cocky, though bemused by the doctor's prophecy, thanked him for his help and gave him a lift to his plane.
Over the next few years the Cocky never forgot the old Doc's words and on the boys fifth birthday he figured he'd put the Doc's statement to the test. He sent the boys away with their mother for a couple of days while he went about putting his plan into action. He filled one boy's room with presents and the other lads with horse manure. Late, on the evening of the second day the two boys arrived home and retired to their bedrooms.
Peering through the door that was slightly ajar, he watched as one son gazed at all
the presents stacked around his room.
"There has to be a catch to this," the young fella said to himself as he paced around and around the room.
"Dad wouldn't give me all these presents if their wasn't a catch to it. No, too good
to be true. There has to be a catch to it somewhere."
Good grief, thought the Cocky to himself. Looks like the old Doc may have been
right. He then disappeared outside to look through the other lad's bedroom window. He
peered into the room, which he had filled with horse manure, and he was totally
dumstruck as he saw the second son with a shovel in his hand, digging madly away at
the heap while crying out,
"There's got to be a good little pony under here somewhere!"
SORT OF WINTER?
I have often wondered, when heading off to a Bush Poet's Festivals, how the weather might treat us. Forecasting the weather has always been a challenge to mankind and even with all the latest technology at their finger tips, advising what tomorrow's weather will be like has always been seen as a hit and miss affair. Weather forecasters are often
looked up to as climatic prophets and are relied upon to help their fellowkind see ahead, enabling them to make
Each culture has its own way, but I have recently heard of a certain American Indian tribe, who look to their chief as their climatic prophet. He being all knowing and wise.
The braves of the tribe will apparently enquire, just prior to a coming winter, as to how
severe it looks like being. The answer from the chief will then determine how much time
they spend up in the forest cutting wood. This would ensure a plentiful supply to see them
through the coming months.
It seems as winter approached this year two braves were nominated to ask the chief
as to what sort of a winter the tribe might expect. Used to the question, the old chief went
through the paces of looking all sage and wise, allowing sufficient time to appear that he had put a lot of thought into it and came up with the following answer.
"It's going to be a fairly cold winter boys," he replied with all the conviction an old chief could muster.
"Thanks chief," they replied and headed off to relate their findings.
With this knowledge, all the able bodied men set off to the forest to start gathering
wood. For nearly a month they built up a stock pile to take back to the camp, when one of
the braves mentioned to the others what had been on his mind.
"Perhaps one of us should go back and ask the chief if he has an update on the
weather. If it's going to be a real fierce winter then there's no point going back with this
lot, only to have to come back and cut more. If it's going to be a real fierce winter, we
may as well all stay up here and keep cutting."
"Good thinking," replied the other braves, who then appointed him to go back and ask.
The old chief upon hearing the braves request for an update on the weather went into an all wise thinking frenzy, again. Not wanting to be the bearer of false predictions, he began
pacing up and down and spent a few soulful moments in meditation. Finally he looked
the brave square in the eyes and said,
"It's gonna be a real fierce winter son. A real fierce winter."
Armed with the knowledge of this new prediction, the brave scampered off in the
direction of the forest.
Upon receiving the updated forecast the Indians worked solidly cutting wood for
an extra month, when the chief became quite concerned over the accurateness of his
"Mmmm," he said, "I hope I'm not leading those boys up the forest
path or they'll
scalp me if they've worked an extra month for nothing. I think I'd better check and
Immediately he went to the trading store and rang the weather bureau.
"Hello, this is the weather bureau," answered the man on the end of the line.
"I'm just checking to see what sort of a winter we're going to have?" enquired the
chief. Wrinkles showing on his concerned forehead.
Without hesitation the man from the weather bureau replied,
"We're in for a real fierce winter friend. A real fierce winter."
"What makes you so sure of that?" responded the chief.
"Well friend," he said, "I've been watching the Indians. They've been cutting
wood for two months solid."
Over the past two years both Chris and I have enjoyed spending the winter seasons performing our show 'Laughter and Tears From The Bush' at the Bailey Bar Caravan Park in Charleville. Each evening at four-thirty we are joined by folk from all around Australia. Some are escaping north, retreating from the bleak southern winter, while others take a few weeks or months break away from the grind of daily work routines. A fortunate few have become
permanent nomadic gypsies, living in their vans and motor homes, leisurely touring around this great country of ours.
The days are mostly warm and sunny while the nights can be cool and mornings brisk. Though not too brisk for
some as each morning around four, one can hear the strange echo of clip clop, clip clop, echoing across the park. This
constant refrain got the better of me one morning, so I jumped out of bed, threw a coat on, and wandered across to the fence in search of the source.
To my surprise it was an elderly gentleman riding a chestnut horse up the bitumen road and heading towards the race track, which is across the road from the caravan park. Suddenly, the old mate reined in the horse, dismounted, and then proceeded to walk to the rear of the horse. With the reins in his right hand he raised the horses tail with his left and bent down to kiss the horse on the butt.
"Yuk!" was my response to the old fella's move, when he heard me and spun around feeling quite embarrassed knowing I had observed his actions.
"It's alright mate," the old codger called out, " I'm not queer or anything."
"That right," I replied, "Well what's the funny caper with the horse?"
"No, truly, it's all right mate. I'm not queer or anything. It's just that I've got
"What! You're telling me that kissing the horse on the butt makes them better."
"No, it doesn't make them better mate, but it sure stops me licking them."
A FISHY TALE
In April 1997 I had the privilege of my dad's company on a tour of Western Queensland, as we worked our way to the 1997 Waltzing Matilda Festival at Winton. Our first stop was at
Charleville, where we spent the weekend with our
fellow minded Charleville Bush Balladeers. We had a big weekend performing at various venues and were so busy we failed to notice, until very late Saturday night, our tucker box had run low. To make it worse it was an unusually cold
night, but dad having grown up in Charleville remembered, as a kid, how they always caught a feed of yellowbelly in the Warrego River running by the town.
"We can slip down early in the morning and wet a line," pipes up dad. "We're sure to catch a feed."
He seemed to have forgotten though, that yellowbelly bite best really early in the morning and the one thing my dad
hated was getting out of his swag too early, especially when it's cold. The Kookaburras woke me about five and I threw a few hints to dad that it was time to go down and try our luck. Obviously feeling the cold he showed no sign of interest and grunted,
"I'll come down later."
Giving him up as a lost cause, I ventured on my own down to the Warrego and
began organising a few worms.
An hour later I heard a noise behind me and turned to see dad all rugged up, sliding down the bank of the river to join me. His eyes lit up and a smile came upon his dial, when he noticed two good size yellowbelly laying on the bank beside me.
"Looks like they're biting lad," he whispered, "better give me a few worms."
After organising some bait, he worked his way down the bank some fifty yards and threw a line in.
About half an hour passed and I could see he was getting a bit toey as he hadn't even had a bite. In the meantime I'd caught two more good sized fish and he was giving me dagger-like stares. Suddenly he began to rise and started walking
"Hell, looks like the old fella's about to chuck a wobbly," I said to myself as he
approached to where I was sitting.
"How come you're catching all the fish lad. We're both using the same bait
"Ymmumv Gmmttm kmmm tmhm mmrs
"What was that?" he asked again, looking rather puzzled at my muffled reply.
"Ymomumv Gmmttm kmmm tmhm mmrs
wmmm." I once again replied.
"What the heck are you mumbling about lad? I can't understand a word your saying."
Finally spitting out the contents of my mouth I replied,
"You've gotta keep the worms warm!"
ONE THING I ENJOY ABOUT TELLING
THAT YOU CAN WORK YOUR WAY TO
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