Waltzing Matilda – A shearer’s strike, a suicide & Banjo: How our unofficial national anthem came into being.

By the 1950s Australia ‘rode on the sheep’s back’. It was a phase that came to symbolise what it was to be Australian.  For a century, the wool industry had given Australia one of the highest living standards in the world and the economy rode high on wealth from primary exports. With the opening up [...]

Lightning Ridge – A town of contrasts

The name Lightning Ridge is said to have originated in the 1870's when the body of a grazier, his dog and 600 sheep were found, thought to have been struck by lightning. With such inauspicious beginnings, quirky seems a strange word to describe this north-west New South Wales town; yet this is a place where [...]

By | March 24th, 2019|Australian History, Outback Australia|0 Comments

The inspiration behind Stone Country

The duality of human nature lies at the heart of my new novel, Stone Country. What sets us apart from our friends and family? Why do we make certain choices during a lifetime? Ones that can just as easily mean our triumph or our downfall. Decisions that can affect not only oneself but also that [...]

Coochin Coochin Station

In February 1861 sixty Aboriginals attacked Coochin Coochin Station only to be repelled by the wife of the station owner L.E. Lester who wielded a revolver. A later inquiry heard that the Aboriginals had been angry over the loss of their native hunting grounds and it was also suggested that the homestead was too close [...]

By | November 9th, 2018|Australian pastoral history, Outback Australia|0 Comments

Orroral homestead

Orroral homestead - a snapshot of a fabulous old homestead: Stock stations in the Canberra district were established towards the end of 1824 and several years later pioneers settled in the mountain valleys west of the Murrumbidgee, beyond the limit of the 19 counties. William Herbert paid £10 for a pasturage licence in 1839 for [...]

The first Afghan cameleers.

Elder & Co. brought the first ‘Afghans’ (Afghan cameleers) to South Australia to help traverse the desert terrain and long distances. Thirty-one Afghans arrived on the the ship 'The Blackwell' at Port Augusta and on New Year’s Eve 1865 the waiting crowd of onlookers watched the remarkable sight of 124 camels being lifted and deposited [...]

How a cow and a calf led mobs of cattle across the Darling River.

“Wilcannia, city of wind and dust, Queen of the western plains; Where man works for his daily crust, And it seldom ever rains.”   (The Barrier Miner, Friday, November 3, 1939.) The Burke and Wills expedition is well known.  Burke’s impatience on reaching Cooper’s Creek on November 11, 1860 and the unfolding disaster that transpired became [...]

A bushman with his dog

A bushman with his dog and horse outside a humpy. This picture is thought to have been taken in the Hughenden district, QLD, around 1910-1920. By the looks of it it's made from canvas and branches and you can see cooking utensils near the entrance. A humpy (or gunyah) was traditionally used by Aboriginals as [...]

Acacia Downs Woolshed & Central West QLD

Central West Queensland is a vast area. Bordered by the Northern Territory and South Australia to the west the region covers about 400,000 square kilometres but is sparsely populated. Towns such as Longreach, Winton, Birdsville, Blackall, Barcaldine, Boulia and Muttaburra help to tether this strong agricultural district, dogged by drought over the centuries. Partly criss-crossed [...]

Australian heritage: campfires, quart pots and billy-cans.

There’s an art in making billy-tea and when properly made the average bushman will tell you that it’s ‘the drink’, far surpassing the kitchen-made variety. The billy or billycan is only at its best when it’s stained and blackened from usage. The sundowners – those restless souls of the past who would arrive at a sheep station at [...]

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