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BOOK TITLE: The Australia Times - Outback magazine. Volume 1, issue 1
COMPANY NAME: THE AUSTRALIA TIMES
COMPANY URL: HTTP://WWW.THEAUSTRALIATIMES.COM
EMAIL: INFO@THEAUSTRALIATIMES.COM

THE
AUSTRALIA
TIMES
®
Vol. 1 No. 1 March 2014
OUTBACK
This magazine is intending to reflect the unique
character of the everyday people of Australia’s vast
outback country.
Our pages will not only carry the experiences of
successful entrepreneurs, but also the vision of ordi-
nary adventurers, the battlers and victims, including
those who left their dreams and bones in waterless
deserts and sleep for ever beneath the sands, safe
from the swirling, flaring bushfires, the blinding dust
storms and the floods that wash away droughts.
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OUTBACK
We offer both veteran and undiscovered writers the opportunity to get published.
Have something to communicate, or an opinion to state, wer are your voice!
Want to join a like minded community in a great project
WHAT’S INSIDE?
WELCOME TO TAT OUTBACK 4
THE UNSEEN VICTIMS OF
QUEENSLAND’S WORST DROUGHT 9
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE BUT
BETTER THAN NOTHING: TONY ABBOTT
ANNOUNCES DROUGHT RELIEF PACKAGE 27
LIVE MEAT EXPORTS 36
SYMPATHY JOURNEY WITH CAMEALS 43
VOICES OF THE OUTBACK 57
THE LAST EXPLORER 59
SOLITUDE 66
HUMOUR 71
BUSH POETRY: IVY 72
LOST IN THE BUSH 75
EDITOR:
Bryan Clark
DEPUTY EDITOR:
Sandy Bauer
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT:
Margaret Gregory
CONTRIBUTORS:
Rural Australia’s Voice Liz and Vicki Miller
Shevaun Grant David Abouav
Bryan Clark Sandy Bauer
Clarrie O’ Roie Barbara Scott
FRONT COVER PHOTOGRAPHY:
Jim Jim Falls in the wet season. (Wikimedia)
Jim Jim Falls is a 200 m (660 ft) high waterfall
located in the Kakadu National Park, in the
Northern Territory, Australia.
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OUTBACK
Vol. 1 No. 1
March 2014
G’day from the Editor
Bryan Clark
Bryan Clark is a retired journalist
now living in Alice Springs with
his two blue heeler dogs, Bluey
and Cheeky, plus his thorough-
bred gelding, Sammy, who is ap-
proximately 12 years old.
In his earlier life, Bryan has
worked in the fields of radio
broadcasting, working as a
ringer on cattle stations, writ-
ing books and poetry, cartoon-
ing, an artcraft enthusiast, an
advertising representative, a
lecturer in Aboriginal music
(the didgeridoo in particular)
with education departments, a
probation and parole officer,
and as an editor-manager of
two rural newspapers in the
northwest of Western Australia,
the Northern Times and The
Gascoyne Telegraph.
He has published four books:
Yammatji, an Aboriginal oral
history, In The Wake of HMAS
Sydney II, a naval history, Poems
Of Central Australia and Car-
toons And Yarns Of The Outback.
On his wonky computer, he has two
more books in the making: Journey
Into Dreamtime (an autobiography
based on diaries kept while work-
ing in southwestern Arnhem Land
in the early 1970s) and Alice And
Me (revisiting experiences of his
life in Central Australia).
For 16 years Bryan was happily
married to the American-born
poet, Delores, who unfortunately
passed away after unsuccessful
heart surgery in 1992.
Bryan created and maintained
the highly successful internet
magazine called Voices Of The
Outback which scored in ex-
cess of 30,000 readers scat-
tered all around the planet, from
outlandish places such as Bhu-
tan, Siberia, and even Tasmania!
Welcome to
TAT Outback
Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Australia Times
OUTBACK magazine a publication offering reliable
information and a voice to residents of, as well as visitors to,
the OUTBACK. The Australia Times aims to become the voice
of the people and their most trusted source of information.
With two Territorians on the editorial team, an experienced
senior editor- and A-grade journalist, latterly from WA , but
now residing southwest of the Alice; and our 15 year old
Deputy Editor, originally from Queensland, now residing on
Brunchilly station in the N.T. We believe we have sufficient
experience to represent outback Australians of all ages
and races. These two personnel are supported by an ever-
growing team of contributors from all over the land.
THE
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OUTBACK
Vol. 1 No. 1
March 2014
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Sandy Bauer is a 15 year old
who has lived on a cattle station
in the Northern Territory for near-
ly 10 years.
Two years ago Sandy decided to
take up photography as a hobby,
to show her facebook fans what
the rural life was like and why
she loved it so much, her hobby
has now turned into a passion.
Sandy is currently studying year
11 through NTOEC (Northern
Territory Open Education Centre),
where she has completed her
Certificate II in Creative Media,
and this year she is aiming to
complete Year 11 Photography
and Botanical Photography.
Over the years Sandy has gained
some awards such as Doro-
thea Mackellar Poetry Awards
‘National Runner Up’ (2007),
Dorothea Mackellar Poetry
Awards ‘Highly Commended’
(2008), Dorothea Mackellar
Poetry Awards ‘Commended’
(2009), Nomination for Ad-
ministrators Medal (2009) and
Chief Minister’s Literacy Award
(2010)
When she isn’t at school or do-
ing photography, she is out on
the bore run or helping brand
and tail weaners.
Sandy is always surrounded by
animals; her family owns 7 hors-
es, 3 dogs and a cat. Alongside
her own animals she also looks
after the orphan poddy calves.
G’day from Deputy Editor
Sandy Bauer
The Vision
This magazine is intending to reflect the unique
character of the everyday people of Australia’s
vast outback country.
It will present the stories, verses, humour, photography
and art of those who have lived there in the past,
or live there now: lives often reflecting extreme
isolation in a sometimes temperamental landscape,
tales of survival and tragedy, every aspect of life
in a land that was old when man himself was
young. Its pages will also preserve the thoughts
and aspirations of men and women who desire to
acquaint themselves with the beauties and terrors of
that ancient , whispering country that is the essential
substance of Australia’s true spirit, far beyond the
sight of coastal cities, towns and settlements where
the majority of the population congregate.
Our pages will not only carry the experiences of
successful entrepreneurs, but also the vision of ordinary
adventurers, the battlers and victims, including those
who left their dreams and bones in the waterless
deserts and sleep for ever beneath the sands, safe
from the swirling, flaring bushfires, the blinding dust
storms and the floods that wash away droughts.
HAVE YOUR SAY
The Australia Times OUTBACK magazine
is a responsive publication and we encourage
readers to share your outback experiences,
interests, way of life, and issues of importance
with us.
Feedback, suggestions and contributions are
welcome.
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The story that needs
to be told
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Every state of Australia is currently suffering from a lack of rainfall. The lack of rain has severely
affected national crops, livestock markets and production across a range of other agricultural industries.
Farmers are currently looking to government aid packages to be able to put food on the table.
Farmers are suffering from the decline in income from the live export trade and lack of rainfall. There
have been stories circling the media over the last few weeks, asking for support and for people to give
the rural properties more coverage on media, to be able to gain the help that they need.
One of the stories that have recently been circling the social media is one written by Rural Australia’s
Voice. Besides the fact that they are suffering from drought and have hardly any feed left, they also
couldn’t destock enough as their domestic markets were flooded with cattle that were meant for the
Live Export Trade. During this time with the high Australian dollar, it meant that their cattle would be
sold at a loss if they even got a bid.
Exacerbating the issues, are the kangaroos that are appearing in ever increasing numbers. Due to the
widespread lack of rain, they are attracted to the dwindling water supplies and eating the feed that
graziers have been trying to preserve for their cattle, to keep them alive during this tough time.
by Rural Australia’s Voice, Liz and Vicki Miller, and Sandy Bauer
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I PLACED THIS PHOTO ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE WITH THE FOLLOWING CAPTION:
I decided to put this photo so people can get an idea of how bad the drought is. This is one of the many “bone heaps”
we have around our places. Here there are actually 13 carcasses from a period of 5 days. A main watering hole is drying up and each day you
have to do a round trip of about 16 km both in the morning and the afternoon to pull poor weak stock out of the mud.”
PLEASE NOTE: (I have added this now due to all the comments) The chain around the leg of the DEAD beast was due to me having to drag it to the pile
(so that they can be either buried or burned later) AFTER I had shot it and pulled it out of the mud.
A HEARTFELT REQUEST
The following is a heartfelt request from Rural
Australia’s Voice.
“I get a little tired of hearing about non-important
issues on the News. I also get frustrated how our
nation is quick to jump to OVERSEAS aid. We
should help our own first, and right now what is
happening in outback Australia seems to be getting
little to no attention from suburban Australia. This
photo will be very confronting and distressing to a
lot of people, but spare a thought for those who are
dealing with this 24/7. People have to remember
that without farmers there is NOTHING.
Farmers give you everything from the food you eat
to the clothes you wear to the homes you live in,
no matter what it is, in some way whether it’s big
or small a farmer had something to do with it. I
am sharing this photo to help show people in the
city and the like, to see we are NOT “just bloody
whinging farmers” and we deserve to be given a
big helping hand. I just wish we could get more
media coverage (prime time T.V etc.) so it’s not a
case of out of sight out of mind. We haven’t had
enough good seasons to prepare us for the number
of droughts and the length of droughts we are
continually facing. People’s debts are rising at a
rapid rate as they try so very hard to source food
to be trucked in for their livestock, then there is the
issue of water. People are trying to find emergency
water supplies, all this coupled with constant 50 (in
the shade) heat. I ask anyone that is BRAVE enough
to come and spend a day our shoes.
A PERSONAL VIEW
In what is hailed as the ‘worst drought in
Queensland’s history’, Vicki and Liz Miller share
this personal understanding of the devastation that
Queensland’s graziers are suffering through.
“This drought is different to many others, as it falls
on the back of the destruction of cyclone Yasi, the
government’s destruction of Live Export Trade and a
photo credit: Rural Australia’s Voice
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I PLACED THIS PHOTO ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE WITH THE FOLLOWING CAPTION:
I decided to put this photo so people can get an idea of how bad the drought is. This is one of the many “bone heaps”
we have around our places. Here there are actually 13 carcasses from a period of 5 days. A main watering hole is drying up and each day you
have to do a round trip of about 16 km both in the morning and the afternoon to pull poor weak stock out of the mud.”
PLEASE NOTE: (I have added this now due to all the comments) The chain around the leg of the DEAD beast was due to me having to drag it to the pile
(so that they can be either buried or burned later) AFTER I had shot it and pulled it out of the mud.
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struggling financial economy. Most other droughts
are usually area specific, with opportunities to agist
or sell cattle in other regions. In this drought, there
is no agistment as the drought is so wide spread,
there has been limited space for meatworks cattle
since March 2013 due to the rush to get cattle sold
before the grass ran out, there have been limited
export boats – which filled quickly with the stronger
cattle that were lucky enough to get on the boat.
There has been limited store cattle trading, due to
the vast hold that this drought has over the country.
“For those who had enough money to buy lick or
supplements, the supplies of copra meal, cotton
seed and molasses were exhausted by midyear,
and the burning down of two major factories end-
ed the supply indefinitely. Hay has also been dif-
ficult or impossible to source since midyear.
“Contrary to popular belief, the majority of gra-
ziers have a huge financial burden and even in the
better years, most struggle to make ends meet due
to the rising costs of production, wages, fuel, rates
& land rent and having no control over the price
of the product that they produce. Unlike the corner
store, if the cost of their business rises, they have
ability to adjust the prices of the products on their
shelf. Graziers & Farmers have no control over
the pricing of their product and although not yet
recognised on the media front bench, most of their
photo credit: Rural Australia’s Voice
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the banks are just sitting & waiting for the season to
break, giving the banks the opportunity to recover
their debts once property values rise again.
“It does not show, but once you start talking to some
of these graziers, this has been the worst Christmas
of their lives. They have not been able to afford a
proper grocery order for months, the present list was
trimmed harshly and any luxuries such as weekends
away, dining out and even the joy of socialising with
friends no longer exists. Graziers are self-sufficient
souls so instead of asking for help they continue to
spiral themselves into a withdrawn state of depres-
sion, trying to deal with their grief on their own. By
now most graziers have exhausted any savings they
products are still trading at prices comparable to
15 years ago!
“People in the rural industry live and breathe their
livelihood from daylight until dark, 7 days a week.
Most graziers would be lucky to have even 2 weeks
holiday every few years, and particularly during
this drought, there has been no reprieve. It is an on-
going burden, every single day, to check waters,
feed lick, attend to drought-affected livestock and
most properties have not had an income to pay
staff so they have taken on the load themselves.
Through all this, the banks are breathing down
their necks and although no major trend in prop-
erty receiverships has begun, the graziers fear that
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photo credit: Liz and Vicki Miller.
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may have had, spent all their superannuation, bor-
rowed every dollar possible off anyone who was
able to help and totally exhausted their ability to
extend any finance facilities with their banks.
“If it does not rain over the next six weeks, these
rural producers have no possible means of getting
an income to survive and no possible means of
assisting their livestock to survive. The government
has a drought package that is designed to help
drought stricken graziers who still might have some
money. They offer a 50% rebate of freight on feed
or lick for livestock, which can be claimed after
the invoices have been paid, but no subsidy on
the actual feed itself. They offer a 50% rebate on
water infrastructure installed for drought-affected
livestock. However, this can also only be claimed
after the initial investment from the property owner.
They offer concessional loans, but only to those in
a good equity position with their own banks. So
as you can imagine, if you have not even enough
money to buy groceries, how on Earth can you buy
lick, feed and water infrastructure in the wait of a
government rebate some months later? The govern-
ment package is only designed for the financially
secure and this leaves the majority of graziers in
total devastation on their own.
“Graziers live for the livestock and many of them
have been a lifetime developing their herds. There
are no words to explain the depression that keeps
growing every day, when graziers have no choice
but to end the suffering of starving livestock. They
know as soon as they drive away from the house,
they will be taking dead cattle to a burial pit, res-
cuing cattle that have fallen into water troughs and
lick tubs, pulling cattle out of bogging dams – most
likely to then take them to the burial pit the next
day as well as bringing home and trying to feed or
giveaway Toyota loads of poddy calves. This has
become a daily ritual for every grazing property
who has not yet received any rain.
“The evening discussion at the dinner table is
how long it might be until the banks foreclose,
what might happen to their livestock, what might
happen to their children and what might happen
to their future. Most of these people have spent
their lives, like their grandparents & parents be-
fore them, building up these properties and their
herds. It seems now inevitable to every grazier
that you speak to that without some assistance
there is not future for them in the grazing industry
or for anyone else who wants to follow in their
footsteps.
“It is time for Australia to recognise what is happening to our Primary Industry and do something
about it before it is all too late. This needs to be addressed by the media, for the Government to
listen. The media will only address it if everyday people like you & I make some noise.
“We need to share this post on Facebook, follow links for news,
give support where we can and try to get this issue into the face of
the media.
“PLEASE take 5 minutes to send Sunrise or The Today Show, or any media show at all, your
request to see more coverage of the real devastation of this drought. It seems that the media has
no problems in covering issues that really don’t affect our everyday life, but an issue like this that
is affecting a lot of Australian lives, they don’t want to touch.
“I am asking this of you, because this is my life as well. I am a Photographer, but I am also a
grazier’s daughter, and when I am not taking photos, I am living this life too.”
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photo credit: Liz and Vicki Miller.
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photo credit: Liz and Vicki Miller.
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photo credit: Liz and Vicki Miller.
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photo credit: Liz and Vicki Miller.
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By suburbanbloke
photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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In the past two years large parts of NSW and
Queensland have been afflicted by crippling
drought with many regions experiencing a severe
deficiency of rainfall and some experiencing their
lowest rainfall amounts on record.
On February 16 Tony Abbott visited the drought-
stricken farmland of Bourke on the first day
of rainfall the area had seen in a month. In
recognition of the difficulty many farmers are
facing through this extended period of drought,
Mr Abbott, together with Minister for Agriculture
Barnaby Joyce, announced on 26 February
a $320 million drought relief package which
comes into effect on 3 March.
Mr Abbot has recognised the particular difficulty
faced by farmers who are being seriously
affected by drought: he commented that ‘if your
farm is in dire drought, you can’t sell, you can’t
borrow, you can’t leave, but you’ve got no money”.
BY SHEVAUN GRANT
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Inspiring MindsIndependent Media
By Bidgee (Own work)
photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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The relief package will make it easier for farmers to
access income support and will also provide farm-
ers with access to loans designed to help them re-
cover from the effects of drought. $12 million will
be added to existing emergency water infrastruc-
ture schemes while $10 million will be allocated to
pest management initiatives to target such things as
the effects of wild dogs in NSW and QLD. There
will also be more than $10 million devoted spe-
cifically to the access to social and mental health
services for communities which are being affected
by the drought, this comes as welcome recognition
that the two-year drought places more than just fi-
nancial strain on people and communities.
The announcements have been welcomed by many
and will be supported by the ALP and the Greens
although the Greens see the relief package only as
a first step in managing drought-affected regions
and voices in the ALP have suggested that the plan
is too little too late for struggling families and com-
munities. For the Greens this is an issue tied up with
climate change and one which will require a long
term policy targeting the increases in drought and
severe weather patterns that accompany climate
change, not one-off relief packages for farmers.
Other concerns that have been raised include the
complaint that, while farming families are being
given assistance for weather conditions—things
they can’t control, people who work in manufactur-
ing have received no assistance for factors beyond
their control such as the closure of factories. Mr
Abbott has insisted that this is not a special deal for
farmers and is instead a response to a situation he
called ‘akin to a natural disaster”.
There is wide, although not unqualified support
for the drought-relief package which, although it
has generated complaints from some sectors of the
community, appears to be based on good inten-
tions. Mr Abbott has called this a responsive plan
and is prepared to alter it if need be. In saying
this, he also acknowledged that there will ultimate-
ly be limitations on Federal assistance for farmers,
he stated that there ‘are no magic wands but we
will do what we can to help in difficult times and
plainly, for quite a large number of farmers right
now, these are very difficult times” .
What effect Mr Abbott’s $320 million plans will
have on the difficult times being faced by farm-
ers right will become evident only after the money
and services begin to reach those who need them.
In the meantime we welcome any comments or
suggestions from our readers on how best to as-
sist farming communities that are struggling with
drought.
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(Global Environmental Outlook)
GEO
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GEO will have a strong environmental focus.
Initially, attention will be concentrated on Biodiversity
(species loss and conservation), Biogeochemical
Cycles (the nitrogen cycle and overuse of fertilizers)
and Climate Change (evidence and impacts of
a changing world).
We are looking for articles to draw attention to
environmental work at a local level and would also
welcome articles on other ecological topics.
Writers wishing to submit articles to TAT GEO
Should Contact:
Lauren.Shearman@theaustraliatimes.com.au
COMING SOON
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photo credit: Zoey Elizabeth Photography
OPINION
EXPORTS
LIVE MEAT
by David Abouav
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My contribution to the inaugural issue is a short
opinion piece about a very controversial and
emotive issue—Live Meat Exports. Like most emotive
and controversial issues, live meat exports have
suffered greatly due to ignorance, intolerance, and
lack of understanding on behalf of many people.
As is usually the case, the loudest voices were, and
still are, those of intolerant individuals who are
ignorant of many facts.
I would like to declare from the outset that I have
no pecuniary or other interest in the beef industry
as such. I am a consumer of meat and other animal
products. I represent only The Australia Times,
which is a non-aligned independent publication.
I intend being factual.
I invite anyone who has issue with this point of
view, to write to us and participate in the debate.
I have lived in the Middle East and in other places
where refrigeration is not commonplace. I would
like to put forward a suggestion that may solve
the problem peacefully, addressing all concerns
adequately.
Live Meat Exports, just like the live fish trade,
are necessary due to lack of refrigeration. This
ensures safe, fresh, fish and meat delivery for
human consumption. The famous Balut in Asia,
is another method of fresh safe protein delivery
with no refrigeration. Live exports are there to
ensure delivery of safe meat and are not due to
greed as some claim. There is currently no other
safe way to deliver the meat to most of the places
it is delivered. There is no short-term solution
to this problem because in addition to lack of
refrigeration, most of these places lack power or
adequate power.
Another reason for the trade is the requirement
for ritual slaughter of mammals and birds for
food according to Jewish (kosher) or Muslim
(Halal) dietary laws. This situation is not likely
to change.
EXPORTS
LIVE MEAT
by David Abouav
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photo credit: © A Little Piece of Heart Photography
There have been suggestions by ‘animal lovers’
that regardless of the above Australia should not
be participating in the trade. That is an extremely
narrow view that brings with it no solutions. The live
meat would be sourced elsewhere at a higher cost
to people who are not affluent, or they will go with-
out. At the same time, supply from less enlightened
countries can result in greater cruelty to animals
and it would be completely outside our control.
When we export the food, three good things hap-
pen: The consumer benefits, the standard of treat-
ment of the livestock rises, and Australia benefits.
I know there are those who would say they do not
care how animals are treated by others as long
as we don’t export; or that sourcing food is the
problem of the consumer not ours; I agree that they
have the right to say that but disagree with their
view point. They are a tiny minority.
Another problem that arises from the press being
trained to get ‘great 30 second grabs’ for dinner time
TV, is that we get shots of people slaughtering meat in
the street with no explanations. Many butcher shops
in Asia and Africa have their meat cut on the street.
An interview shown on ABC 7pm news on Thursday
January 16 was about the opinion of Egyptians and
the result of the referendum on their new constitution.
The interview was with an Egyptian butcher and the
camera operator panned to show the butcher and
his assistants butchering what looked like lamb hang-
ing over the footpath. This is not an uncommon sight.
A little different to what we are used to.
A few weeks ago a number of videos emerged
about cruelty of the citizen of Gaza towards Austra-
lian cattle. That episode, which was not adequately
explained, because it is more dramatic without ex-
planation, was actually quite sad. It showed cattle
being delivered to points in the city where it was
going to be slaughtered in the street. What was not
said is that it is usually goats or sheep that are de-
livered there. None of the ‘ butchers’ were prepared
for what happened. They were mostly scared, as
they went about the business of trying to slaughter
the animals. I am not justifying any of this, I am say-
ing these butchers were unfamiliar and ill-prepared
to butcher cattle, and there’s a much better way for
us to control the situation for a much better outcome.
That better way is for all parties to come together
with the view of getting a better outcome for the
consumers, the animals, and the farmers. This will
be a great outcome for Australia. Here are some
suggested steps to achieve the outcome.
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Let’s accept the fact that the majority of people do
not wish to see animals treated cruelly.
These include overseas people, so making claims
that certain people of certain nationalities are
naturally cruel to animals only get these people’s
backs up. It tends to complicate matters not solve
problems. We need to walk a mile in a person’s
shoes before condemning their actions.
The vast majority of farmers and their employees
care for animals and are not cruel to them. To sug-
gest otherwise is either ignorant or malicious.
The best way to bring about an outcome that
will be acceptable all around is to initially cre-
ate some mobile abattoirs. These could follow the
delivery trucks and humanely dispatch the ani-
mals, and at least, gut, skin, and quarter them.
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This will ensure that the person about to kill a bull
has actually seen one before, and knows how to
go about his business. The cost of achieving this
is minimal and will ensure on going trade and
the knowledge that Australian beef will be better
treated overseas.
We could graduate from this to regional abattoirs
with refrigerated delivery vehicles but mobile truck
based abattoirs will ensure humane killing, ad-
equate butchering, and basic hygiene at a very
low cost. So how about we get all stakeholders
together to make something this simple happen?
HAVE YOUR SAY
Bryan Clark writes:
I think the main objection in Australian is gratuitous cruelty to roped, chained or contained
animals prior to slaughtering by what are obviously unqualified and inexperienced ghouls who
obviously feel no affinity with the cattle in their charge.
Some of the secretly filmed footage I have seen shows the mindless and insensitive behaviour of
sadists.
In my opinion, what is urgently needed is personal supervision of slaughtering procedures by
Australian supervisors.
Secondly, overseas buyers of our livestock should be subjected to educational programmes here
in Australia. It is my view, that our livestock should not be discharged to foreign slaughterhouse
staff who have not undergone training in the humane execution of livestock intended for human
consumption.
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Turloughmor. Tree outback at dawn.
photo credit: Flicker. © 2009 under attribution license.
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HANNAH PURSS (aged 25) is from Sydney. Her
background has been in make-up and special ef-
fects. Living and working with camels was, in the
beginning, “a bit of a laugh,” she says, but in the
long term the catching, training and rising wild
camels has gradually developed into a passion.
Hannah is now acknowledged widely as an excep-
tional camel jockey; in 2013, she won the Alice
Springs Camel Cup, an event which is contested
by entrants from all over the world.
Already she has lived and travelled in more than
20 countries and has volunteered her time in many
community and conservation efforts in Asia and the
South Pacific region.
Although she has been personally involved in
many overseas fundraiders and charity initiatives,
her thoughts and plans are now solidly based in
Australia.
Sympathy Journey
with CAMELS
Four young adventurers have set out across
Central Australia with their camels to raise money for
supplying the homeless with swags.
The young camel lovers are from varied backgrounds.
She commented: “I was immediately attracted to the
Compassion Camel Caravan, as we are calling it,
as a means of supporting under-privileged Aussies.
At the same time, of course, the exercise will enable
me to gain more experience in the camel world.”
HANNAH
PURSS
photo credit: Bryan Clark
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MARIE CLAUDE ASSELIN, (27) currently a resi-
dent of Alice Springs, is originally from Quebec, in
Canada.
A Chinese medicine practitioner who specialis-
es in Acupuncture, Marie also has a degree in
Psychology.
Health and general balance has long been an abid-
ing interest in her striving for happiness: a state she
aspires to for everyone in her world.
As a youngster, Marie says she always wanted to
help people and to understand everything. A lofty
ambition! Because of her instinctive involvement in
other’s inequalities, she has sometimes been called
“Mother Teresa” by friends and associates.
Even as a young child in Canada, Marie dreamed
of travelling around the planet, sampling all coun-
tries and their cultures, until she felt she was with a
“home on her shoulders.” Finally, in her journeying
around the world, she decided to choose Australia
as her base, her natural haven.
Marie first encountered camels in India in 2011.
Since that moment, she has gradually acquired
her own herd! Now before this enterprising young
woman is the intention to test acupuncture on her
“ships of the desert.”
MARIE
CLAUDE
ASSELIN
photo credit: Bryan Clark
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EVAN CASEY, (25) is a stockman from South Aus-
tralia. He has worked on Northern Territory pasto-
ral properties since the age of 15.
Evan has behind him over 8 years of mustering
wild cattle, brumbies and cattle.
AS well as being a proficient horse and camel
trainer, he also has had experience in the training
of young Aboriginal stockmen in sustainable feral
stock management. For much of his adult life, Evan
has been a supporter and contributor to a local
training initiative supporting the education of Cen-
tral Australia’s indigenous youngsters.
To further his own personal education, he made the
effort to travel overseas so he could witness the pov-
erty in some of Australia’s developing neighbours.
Since then, he has become even more committed to
our own homeless population.
KAMAHL DRUESNE, 36 was born in Byron Bay
(NSW) and is currently living in Alice Springs.
He is a documentary filmmaker and passionate
camel owner. Kamahl has made a number of films,
some about the nature of camels. His passion for
film-making and camels have taken him all over the
world. Kamahl and a team of friends were the first
people to trek with Bactrian camels into Rajasthan,
India. His documentary was broadcast on SBS.
Travelling has broadened Kamahl’s horizons and
his compassion for the human race. He has been
involved in numerous community events in his home
town, including teaching film making to under priv-
ileged young people for over two years.
Inspired by a peer’s photography exhibition ‘ex-
ploring homelessness’, Kamahl has been intrigued
by the homeless issue in Australia.
Stumbling upon the “Swag for the Homeless” web-
site, he was inspired to begin a project that com-
bines camel trekking and supporting a worthwhile
cause. He believes ‘Swag for the Homeless’ is a
wonderful solution to providing dignity, warmth,
comfort and safety to people who literally have
nothing.
EVAN
CASEY
KAMAHL
DRUESNE
photo credit: Bryan Clark
photo credit: Bryan Clark
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There are 5 camel bullocks, 10 adult females,
4 female youngsters going with the adventurous
foursome.
Travelling from Alice to Adelaide, 1,800 kms, their
journey will take about 100 days.
“It might be longer. It depends of which route we
finally take for the latter part of the trip.” They are
travelling down the Old South Road, the route
forged across the desert by Central Australia’s pio-
neers, which included the Afghan camel teamsters.
The bulls will be pulling two 4-wheeled wagons,
specially constructed for the journey by Evan.
“The wheels are actually going to generate electric-
ity as the camels pull them along.”
We are trying to generate sponsorship for the trip.
We have had a special swag for the homeless
designed and these will be distributed among the
needy. They are being made to be carried as a sort
of backpack. We will be actually using these same
swags on our trip through the desert. Along the
way, we will distribute collection boxes. Some are
around Alice Springs, some down at Ayers Rock.
Already we have been given some cash donations.
I believe there are about 104 thousand homeless
people in Australia.
There are about 40,000 people in this country that
sleep rough every night.
They call Australia the lucky country, but I think it’s
luckier for some than it is for others.”
After the adventurous trip is over, and their goal has
been achieved, the young camel teamster wants to
walk back to Alice Springs and to establish some
sort of a centre where camels can be cared for and
given the respect they deserve. “In the long run,
we are hoping to set up a camel farm, perhaps,
or something along those lines. Australia was built
with the help of the camel. They formed our origi-
nal transport industry. But we don’t seem to show
any gratitude for that, do we?”
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Werner Bayer. The Olgas.
photo credit: Flicker. © 2013 under attribution license.
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Inspiring MindsIndependent Media
Rumpleteaser. Violet and Crimson Meet in Uluru.
photo credit: Flicker.© 2008 under attribution license.
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Werner Bayer. Ayres Rock.
photo credit: Flicker.© 2013 under attribution license.
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Werner Bayer. The Olgas.
photo credit: Flicker. © 2013 under attribution license.
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For many years, this highly successful
internet magazine was maintained under the
stewardship of TAT Outback Editor, Bryan Clark.
Now the concept is returning here so that the
stories, verses, humour, art and photography of
the everyday people of Australia’s vast and varied
outback country can be showcased and shared.
Here, the experiences of the people who live here
now, and who have lived here in the past, can be
recorded and remembered —a place where the
thoughts and aspirations, dreams and vision, of
ordinary adventurers, battlers and victims, can be
shared alongside those of successful entrepreneurs.
This will be a place reflecting the unique
character of Australia’s Outback.
photo credit: All images supplied by Bryan Clark
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VOICES OF THE
OUTBACK
photo credit: Wikipedia
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By Clarrie O’Roie
In the minds of many Australians, the explorers of their vast
continent lived in the mythical “early days,” meaning, in the main,
the middle and late 1800s.
Reveal to them our most recent (and largely forgotten ) explorer,
Michael Terry, a man whose explorations took place in the mid
1900s century, a wanderer through the outback country for over
40 years, and their expressions of doubt are inevitable.
Terry’s name is rarely recalled in the modern halls of academic
study and his wonderful exploits are therefore sadly unknown
even by the educated (?) youth of the 1990s.
Michael Terry—known as “The Last of the Australian Explorers”—
was born in 1899, in Durham (UK), and at one point in his
adventurous career lived and worked in the Gascoyne region as a
young Pommy jackeroo.
The Last
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In 1917, a raw 18-year-old fresh from the green
fields of the River Tyne, Michael Terry enlisted in
the Royal Naval Air Service, working in the Ar-
moured Cars Division, in Russia, from where he
emerged with frostbite and gas-damaged lungs.
Discharged, the young man was allocated a per-
manent pension by the British government and a
free ticket to either California (USA) or Western
Australia.
He landed at Fremantle on January 31, 1919, just
a few months before his 20th birthday, sailing on
the ship, SS MILTAIDES.
Finding lodgings at a “tiny pub at the top of Mur-
ray Street in Perth,” the young immigrant at once
decided to rid himself of everything that reflected
his Englishness.
“Having heard ‘Pommy this’ and ‘Pommy that’ on
the voyage out, I nursed the usual inferiority feeling
and expected a hunk of Australian masculinity to
swagger up, sing out ‘Pommy bastard!’ and bash
me because I wore a cap,” Terry wrote in his auto-
biography.
Wearing a broad brimmed felt hat, Michael Terry
worked for a while as a car salesman in Perth, sell-
ing Dodge vehicles and training the new owners in
their operation and maintenance.
After being robbed of all his savings at his place of
employment, the young Englishman pined: “I was
stoney broke in a strange land. It seemed the end
of the world.”
Recalling “a sheep squatter (friend) from the
nor’west,” Charlie French, the disheartened young
man contacted him and acquired a job on Carda-
bia Station, to the north of Carnarvon, near the
North West Cape.
Michael Terry travelled the 1,300 odd km route be-
tween Perth and Cardabia with his friend, Charlie,
and Guy McLeod of Minilya Station.
Terry wrote in his diary: “We slept in swags on the
shed floor (at Koolanooka) after tucker aboard the
car. Motoring at sun up in an open tourer was pure
hell for someone plagued by frostbite in Russia.”
At the Gascoyne Junction pub the visitor saw for
the first time “nor’westers en masse,” describing
them as “men who dressed differently, had another
pitch of voice, were sun bronzed and, being cattle-
men, talked stock.”
Their little vehicle was hauled across the wide, wa-
terless bed of the Gascoyne River by horses, their
harness hitched to the front bumper bar. Finally, at
Cardabia Station homestead, near Point Cloates,
the Englishman found rude men’s quarters, a kitch-
en block, sheep yards, stockyard, shearing shed,
machinery shed and a blacksmith’s shop.
“The cook, a kindly old chap, was a Chinaman
and there were black natives ...,” he remembered.
At night legions of yellow crabs marched marched
over a kilometer from the Indian Ocean to crawl
into and over everything. Charlie French’s new
wife, a former Perth actress, was not amused. Early
one morning her screams of terror shattered the
peace when she awoke to find crabs crawling up
on her bed.
Out in the bush with the sheep musterers, Michael
Terry’s own peace of mind was also shocked
when he spotted, rising above a nearby sandhill,
photo credit: Bryan Clark
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“a weird kind of head—some prehistoric monster
surviving in this Southern Land ...”
The “monster” was Terry’s first confrontation with a
camel. When it gave a “doleful kind of howl,” he
nearly abandoned his horse to start running in the
opposite direction.
The Aborigines, he said, referred to camels as the
“Emu Horse” because it had a head like an emu
and four legs like a horse.
When station work decreased after the shearing,
Michael Terry pocketed his cheque and moved to
Carnarvon, 145 km to the south.
Hoping to catch a ship to Fremantle, a worker’s
strike prevented this and he took a casual job on
Babbage Island, “levelling sandhills for a meat
works, the first on the Gascoyne,”
The wages were not overly generous, he recalled.
He and his fellow workers slaved for an 8-hour shift
in blazing, dazzling heat “on the end of a long-
handled shovel,” bending their backs all day as
the team slowly straightened out the foundation site
for an ill fated meat works that, when completed,
was then deemed uneconomic and did not process
a solitary jumbuck.
Leaving the Gascoyne behind, Michael Terry moved
to NSW where he started a transport company,
became a drover, a car salesman and, in between
times, undertook the first eastwest motor vehicle
crossing of Australia (1923) from Winton (Qld) to
Broome (WA), driving a 1913 Model T-Ford.
Later, on a visit to America, Terry conspired to meet
Henry Ford himself. The American was informed of
the Winton-Broome historic trip through Australia’s
dead heart.
Ford commented: “You are a fine adventurous
young man and have done what many of us would
like to do. But, after all, the Ford has done what I
always knew it could.”
In the years following, having returned to his adopt-
ed country, Michael Terry organised 14 principal
explorations of the Australian inland (1923–35)
with vehicles or camels.
On one overland venture in 1923, using a string
of camels, the Terry party walked 3,213 km over a
photo credit:
News articles sourced from
http://trove.nla.gov.au
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nine month period be-
tween Alice Springs
(NT) and Kalgoorlie
(WA).
“Throughout all my
years of explora-
tion,” Terry wrote, “it
had always been my
greatest wish some
day to achieve a truly outstanding discovery.”
During his years wandering the inland deserts with
camels, Terry heard wild Aborigines speak of a
special place they called “Chugga-Kurri.” Terry did
not accept the reality of this until one day he found
himself standing on the rim of a rich and fertile
valley.
“When my camel reached the top of the sandhill,”
he later wrote, “I just gazed in astonishment at
what I saw lying ahead of me ...”
There were magnificent cliffs and scattered clumps
of gumtrees, with flocks of white-winged corellas
flying above. There was ti-tree and golden wattle
in bloom, and a pool of cool, clear water. I gazed
at it entranced ... such quantities (of water) as to be
almost unbelievable in that type of desert country.
All around ... was greenness ... It was like a dream
of beauty ... suddenly come true.”
The oasis was the legendary Chugga-Kurri of the
wild desert tribes. Terry gave it the name of Hid-
den Basin and spent days exploring its exquisite
wonders.
As an old man writing his memoirs, Terry noted:
“All I know is that the wattle still blooms in that hid-
den valley and the half legend that I had heard tell
of so long ago turned out to be true.”
On a mining jaunt to the Cleland Hills (NT), in
1961, Michael Terry made a discovery which he
came to describe as “my major contribution to Aus-
tralian archaeology.”
At a natural rock waterhole known to the Aborigines
as Ullilla, the traveller accidentally came across a
series of extraordinary pictographs (rock carvings).
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The art style depicted was totally foreign, not at all
Aboriginal in origin; one object was of a human
head wearing a crown, while another displayed a
beard, with scattered symbolic markings surround-
ing the human figures.
“For seven years I talked about it with specialists,”
Terry said, “hoping to be taken seriously and to
have the carvings properly studied ...”
It was not until 1967 that the explorer was able to
organise an expedition back to the mysterious site
with Pro. MacIntosh (Sydney University) and Robert
Edwards (South Australian Museum).
After an absence of six years, Terry pointed up to a
massive rock above to the “heartshaped face with
moon eyes.”
Edwards finally delivered his verdict, saying:
“These carvings are thousands of years old and
quite different from known Aboriginal art.”
In the days following expedition members photo-
graphed and officially documented 387 separate
rock carvings.
“What people carved them and when?” Michael
Terry wondered. “The workmanship is superior to
that of the Aborigines and of a different character.”
Later discoveries by Terry included another non-
Aboriginal rock carving of a male face 240 km
west of Grafton (NSW), a peculiar Polynesian dec-
orated face carved on rocks at Warialda (NSW),
and, in 1970, strange hieroglyphs inscribed on
mudstone at Pingandy Station, 43 km east of Car-
narvon, in WA.
Qualified opinions on the WA rock inscriptions varied.
A Pro. Roma, of Ottawa University (Canada), con-
cluded the rockwriting may have been a Bengali
variety of Sanskrit used in Java until 500 years ago,
while a Dr. Bruce Fell of the National Decipher-
ment Centre, in Massachussets (USA), disagreed,
stating: “ ... Most of the marks can be seen to be
continuous natural phenomena ... Some fossils ...
simulate writing to a remarkable degree ...”
As an old man of 70-odd years, the last Austra-
lian explorer reminisced: “I pause whilst the pres-
photo credit: Bryan Clark
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ent fades and memory gives a length of vision
wherein I ... return to the desert ... The mulga
trees, like the blasted woods of the battlefields,
stand naked to the eye ... A space of time and
vision clears again ... After abundant rains ... we
ride our camels towards a rift in the ranges where
in every pool ... water shines and the camels can
... feed on luscious herbage by the hour ... Par-
rots whisk through the branches and birds sing
from the green depths whilst I splash in the water
happy with life ... These fine things were mine ...
May they also await you ...”
Michael Terry, FRGS, FRGSA, passed away in
1981.
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES SOURCED FROM:
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?q=
Michael+terry&s=180
1 MICHAEL TERRY. (1925, June 11). Recorder
(Port Pirie, SA : 1919–1954), p. 1. Retrieved
January 26, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/
nla.news-article95933935
2 MICHAEL TERRY. (1928, December 11). The
Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864–1933), p. 18.
Retrieved January 21, 2014, from http://nla.
gov.au/nla.news-article21333068
3 THROUGH NORTHWEST AUSTRALIA.
(1928, December 15). Chronicle (Adelaide,
SA : 1895–1954), p. 71. Retrieved January
26, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-
article87569553
4 MR. MICHAEL TERRY. (1936, December 19).
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW :
1842–1954), p. 10. Retrieved January 26,
2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-
article17292602
5 MICHAEL TERRY. (1928, June 29). Northern
Territory Times (Darwin, NT : 1927–1932),
p. 4. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4556176
6 MICHAEL TERRY’S PARTY. (1928, April 26).
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864–1933),
p. 5. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21246860
7 Mr. Michael Terry Sceptical. (1931, July 20).
The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879–1954),
p. 9. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from http://
nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32354002
8 MICHAEL TERRY. (1947, August 2). Centralian
Advocate (Alice Springs, NT : 1947–1954),
p. 8. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59654187
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By Bryan Clark
With our Central Australian weather cooling from
bloody hot to reasonably warm, I took a German
artist for a three-hour hike through the valley of the
Ilparpa ranges, heading towards the loftier Mac-
Donnell Ranges in the north.
Spinifex and buffel grasses knee high in places
and everywhere that wonderful pervading peace
that nourishes my spirit so quickly.
I took the artist up one of those “foot hills” which, in
itself, is quite high and difficult to climb, to
the crest where there are to be found an-
cient limestone rocks jutting from the
peak; on them are weird “ writings”,
or so they seem, but which are, in
reality, just a natural characteristic of
those particular stones.
They look as though some ancient people scribbled
on them in an indecipherable script thousands of
years ago and left them to solidify from soft clay
into hard rock.
The artist was fascinated by them, these “ancient
writings”, as I jokingly call them.
She set about to do a rubbing of them on large
sheets of paper, using materials she carried in her
backpack.
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These transferred impressions are then taken by her
into her studio where she incorporates them into
mysterious art works from the Central Australian
outback: things to puzzle, bewilder and intrigue
people from other cultures who never in their lives
have the opportunity to see such images with their
own eyes.
As she worked over her rocks, I settled down on
the crest and looked out over that magnificent land-
scape that seemed to reach away in all directions
to infinity.
An extended panorama of rocky ranges and misty
distant hills, grassy plains, evaporated billabongs,
long valleys – an ancient land, old when man him-
self was young, and it was all mine.
Look at it long enough, and quietly enough, and
you somehow lose your sense of self and blend
with its spirit, as though we share a common pulse,
a vibrant energy of life that extends beyond the
flesh and rocks and timber, one that has for ever
been and will for ever be.
In such places you acquire an instinctive sense of
being only a visitor, a very temporary inhabitant,
who, too, will ultimately disintegrate into the dust of
the land to become part of its eternity.
The sights and feelings, the warm emotions of
relationships, are only an insight, a certain per-
ception that illuminates and darkens in mortal
understanding.
Students of the earth—geologists, they call
themselves—have estimated these Central Austra-
lian rocks as being in the vicinity of 500 million
years old, an age my poor little brain has diffi-
culty in realising.
In such moments, we come to understand, too, that
the land is never owned, it is only leased or rented,
or used, and the ownership money that changes
hands between people is an illusionary token that
has more to do with exploitation than realities.
None of us “own” this land. We occupy it. It har-
bours us. It nourishes us. We build on its surface, till
its soil for food, fence it, dam it, harvest its produce,
admire it, ignore it and sometimes degrade it.
But the land is an entity unto itself, ultimately inde-
structible and self-healing, and men are its para-
sites, its burden.
Our egos, our vanity and our greed perish with us.
But the land is eternal.
photo credit: Bryan Clark
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West Mc Donnell National Park
photo credit: Wikipedia
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I felt her gentle caring love.
It kindled love in me.
Like a whisper of God’s perfect love
And always given free.
Love filled the space between us.
It formed a gentle bond
Of safety, trust and happiness
Of memories bright and fond.
That love is like a spirit, free
Of difference time can’t fix.
Ivy then was seventeen
And I was only six.
Her skin was soft and lustrous black,
Mine ivory like her name.
I wish that I could bring her back
And find that love the same.
By Barbara Scott
Some rights reserved
by Tim Green aka atoach
photo credit:
IVY
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photo credit: Flikr
Some rights reserved by Bookabee Tours Australia
www.bookabee.com.au
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I was lost.
The realisation stabbed through me like a cold
blade.
Reining in the mare, I anxiously searched the
countryside around me in every direction. It was
foreign. Unknown. Nothing around me was famil-
iar. Southwestern Arnhem Land shimmered in the
heat—stark, old and lonely. A sinister watchfulness
permeated the moist, humid land, as if dead men's
eyes were secretly gloating beyond the haze,
watching and waiting for another victim.
There was a flash of panic. Wheeling the horse,
I kicked her into an insane gallop, scrambling to
one horizon, then another, frantically searching
for something, anything to recognise—perhaps a
track, a fence—but there was nothing, nothing but
endless, baking plains stretching away into an in-
finite solitude.
There was a hunger inside me, a need to share this
isolation with anything living, even a solitary bird or
scampering wallaby. The trees were skeletons, the
red earth split with drought, everything seemingly
dead, or gratefully dying, and I was utterly alone,
hopelessly stranded in an uninhabited wilderness.
Earlier that morning I had ridden away from the
stock camp, based about 15 miles up the Wilton
River, heading back to the Yuri homestead to re-
trieve a forgotten mosquito net, also tobacco sup-
plies for the Aboriginal stockmen. Taking a route
which the ringers had described as "little bit close
up," meaning a short cut, I somehow lost my bear-
ing and was bushed in the 30,000 square miles
of Arnhem Land. A vague but definite premonition
warned me to control myself, to suppress panic, to
sit and think, as calmly and logically as possible,
and maybe then I might discover a solution to my
predicament.
For two hours, I squatted in the shade of a coo-
libah, noting the arc of the sun, so as to determine
east and west. The station homestead was some-
where south. Hopefully, I rode in a southerly di-
rection, keeping a wary eye on a wavering rocky
landmark far into the distance. Fresh horse's tracks
crossed mine. Instinctively, I moved to follow them,
then changed my mind, remembering an old bush-
man's warning: "If you're ever lost, and you come
across tracks of unshod horses, don't follow them.
They were probably left by brumbies, and they'll
only get you more lost than you are."
The overhead sun was a glaring menace, assaulting
the country with a malicious intensity. On other days
like this elsewhere in Arnhem Land I had seen birds
fall from the trees, dead of dehydration. At times, the
heat seemed to suck your very blood and leave the
body as dry as dust. When the sweat stops flowing,
that is the danger signal—the onset of thirst. At first
the tongue swells, filling the mouth with its hardness,
and menacing hallucinations torture the brain. With
it comes memories of every precious drop of water
you have ever wasted. Even today, years later, I can
become deeply angry with anybody who treats wa-
ter irresponsibly. To those who have thirsted, the stuff
is the quintessence of life.
Ahead was a change in the landscape. The plain,
flat and barren, was broken by a mass of stones in
haphazard heaps. On the brink, I paused to look
over the edge. Far below, flashing and sparkling,
was a river, weaving its way through a crevasse.
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As the bank was too treacherous for descending on
horseback, I dismounted and carefully led the mare
down the rocky slope, hooves kicking and dislodging
stones as she nervously followed me into the gorge.
On a red rocky wall, I spotted a series of picto-
graphic Aboriginal carvings: human figures of
hunters, a kangaroo, a goanna. Aeons before
other human beings had been here in this lonely
place; using a rock hammer they had laboriously
pecked out those rude shapes as a timeless memo-
rial. Trying to communicate over the years, I traced
some outlines with a finger. The pangs of isolation
grew even more intense, so I turned away.
Near the base, the uneven surface levelled into a
bed of flat rock and through this weaved the relent-
less river, wearing a course started thousands of
years before. Holding the reins at arm’s length, I
stepped into the shallows, clothes and all, and laid
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back, letting the tepid water wash over me. I must
have drunk a gallon between each breath. Along-
side me, the horse drank deeply, snorting her de-
light. Filling my hat, I splashed her shoulders, legs
and rump, helping to cool her.
The river, I reflected, must be the Wolga. If so, it
runs from north to south, blending with the Rug-
ged River at Yuri Station’s eastern boundary, my
destination. One factor confused me. The current
was not flowing to what I had calculated to be a
southern point. It was going the other way. Then
I remembered a crucial fact: a breeze was blow-
ing from south to north, and as it moved along it
created a deceptive ripple, causing the superficial
impression of a northern flow; but, as I rested in the
river I had felt the undertow surging firmly in the
opposite direction.
To verify my decision, I decided to act on the advice
offered me once by a drover: “If you’re not sure
which way the current of a river is flowing, look
along the bank until you find a tree with the debris
stacked up against it. If the debris is on the northern
side of the trunk, then the river is flowing south!”
A sensible observation that helped save my life.
Remounted, I rode downstream, bulky boulder piles
on either side, shimmering with heat waves, fierce
as a fire. Strange indentations in the smooth rock
floor attracted my attention. Examining them more
closely, I was amazed to recognise the marks as
kangaroo tracks that were embedded in solid rock.
Ages before, when this bank had been clay, a mob
of kangaroos had travelled over the area, and ever
since their spoor had remained here undisturbed,
preserved for eternity as the clay solidified into
stone. How many years does it take, I wondered,
for clay to be transformed into stone?
Searching around the ancient site, I found yet an-
other mystery: a petrified human foot print, one with
six toes, and at least 12 inches in length. Much lat-
er I described my discovered to an old Aboriginal
friend of the Ritarrngu tribe. He was familiar with
the historic evidence, he nodded; the location had
sacred ceremonial significance.
“What about the man’s foot?” I asked. “He must
have been a giant.
“All man bin giant one time,” he smiled. “Me some-
time show you cave in Dungullumindinni country.
Big mob bone of giant people there.”
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The sun was dying, violently, its dying blood stain-
ing the horizon in a gory glow. A billabong glinted
on the flat, ringed by ghost gums, a steep red cliff
rising behind, every detail mirrored perfectly in the
ironbrown water. This country was old when Man
was young. It radiates age and a timeless wisdom.
Wise, tortured by primeval experience, it watches
the infant human struggling against its law. To the
few who listen, it nourishes and protects.
The mare unsaddled and hobbled, I sought a pan-
danus tree and plucked a handful of its uppermost
fronds. To the Aborigines, this was tucker: pale,
fleshy stalks, resembling celery in taste and cool
with moisture. To the arrogant white Territorian, this
food of nature is condemned as “blackfella tuck-
er.” I fed it to one bigot when his belly button was
leaning against his backbone and he devoured it
with absolute gratitude. For dessert, he polished
off a roasted goanna tail and a boiled cockatoo.
Safely restored to life, some days later he squatted
comfortably in the shade of a Darwin verandah
and again rubbished the black fellow’s traditional
menu.
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Surveying the immediate vicinity of my camp site, I
was surprised to come across a dilapidated cattle
yard fashioned with bush timber. It was an old con-
struction. The wood was riddled with termite dam-
age. But still it stood there, defiant against time and
the elements. Later, in describing the old cattle yard
to Big Red at Yuri Station, he recognised it at once.
“Oh, that’s what we call the ‘Durack Yard.’” he
said. “Years ago—back in the 1800s, I think—the
Durack’s moved a big mob of cattle from over in
the east, right up here into the Territory, then across
to the North West. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but
the bloke who ran this place before me reckoned
the Durack’s went up the Wolga and got holed up
there in the wet, and they built that yard while they
were waiting for the country to dry out.”
At a Perth writer’s gathering in 1975 I mentioned
the ‘Durack Yard’ to the family biographer, Mary
Durack, and she remarked:
“I’ve never heard of it before. I wish I had known
of it when I was writing Kings In Grass Castles.”
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Under submerged rocks I found the fresh water mus-
sel known to the tribal people as “mullabungor”,
tasteless but nourishing. These I kept for breakfast.
From a hollow log I pulled a handful of “sugarbag,”
or wild honeysweet, energising, and flecked with
bark chips that needed to be strained through the
teeth. Immature water lilies from the billabong, their
pods crammed with seeds; the stalk and root are all
edible and sustaining, so I collected a quantity.
The saddle blanket, stiff and stinking with horse
sweat, was utilised as a bed, the saddle my pillow.
Aboriginal stockmen had warned me of the dangers
of camping alone in the bush without a fire. A camp-
fire serves as a protection against buffaloes, they
said. Sometimes an animal blunders into an unlit
camp and will sniff over a prone body. Detecting
any sign of life, he will immediately press his whole
weight on to his knees and crush the sleeping figure.
With leaves and twigs I set fire to the trunk of a
dead gum tree standing nearby, then laid down
to sleep, leaving it to smoulder through the dark
hours. Waking abruptly, I heard a tremendous
splintering crash, with flames exploding and an
eruption of sparks showering down. For a second,
I imagined the fiends of hell had come to terrorise
me. The gum tree, its bole gradually weakened by
the fire, had collapsed—luckily, away from my po-
sition. Had it fallen otherwise, I might have been
squashed and cremated.
At piccaninny daylight, I brought the mare back
to camp, saddled her, and scribbled a letter to my
mother and sister in Melbourne. Securely strapped
in the saddlebag, I reasoned that if I did not sur-
vive, perhaps the horse would return to the station
or be picked up in the annual muster, and some
kindly ringer would send the letter on. Down river
I continued, following the right bank. When thick
scrub barred my way, I forced the mare through.
My clothes were soon shredded. Once a deep im-
passable gully blocked me. Turning the mare into
the river, and keeping an eye out for crocodiles, I
swam her across to the other side, slipping from the
saddle midstream and clutching the mane, keeping
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myself clear of her thrashing hooves. Three times
I was compelled to cross the river in this manner,
expecting every second to be snatched by a croc.
Only two showed themselves. They steered wide of
us, thankfully.
Riding around a sharp river bend, I spotted an Ab-
original man doing something in the shallows. He
apparently did not hear my approach. The fellow
was naked. He leaned over, his back to me, ar-
ranging rocks in a pattern, probably constructing
or repairing a traditional fish trap. When I loudly
announced my presence by calling, the man quite
obviously received a terrible shock; he sprung up-
right into an alert stance and turned to face me.
Thrust point down into the nearby river bank were
two spears. He edged towards the weapons and
placed his right hand on one of the shafts.
“It’s okay,” I called again, hoping to reassure him.
“I’m from Yuri Station. I’m lost. Where are you
from?”
The Aboriginal stood mute. His long, tangled hair
reached his shoulders. Across his chest were sev-
eral bulging cicatrice scars. Other decorative scars
sliced down his upper arms in a decorative pat-
tern. The man’s eyes, highly expressive, troubled
me. His darting, terrified glances covered every as-
pect of my appearance, as though he was inwardly
stricken with panic. I did not approach too close as
I sensed something unpredictable and dangerous
in his behaviour.
When he persisted with his silence, I spoke again,
saying: “What’s your name? Where do you live?”
Now he literally trembled. A nervousness moved
through his facial muscles like an involuntary trem-
or and his agitated fingers restlessly handled the
spear’s shaft. Then, without a word, he snatched
his spears, turned and sprinted through the shal-
lows and up the river bank, never looking back.
When later I mentioned the peculiar encounter to
Larrnga at his Yuri camp, the old man said: “Him
myall (wild black fellow). Them fellas can’t talk mu-
nunga language. They still in bush, them myalls.
We see them fellas sometimes. They no more talk
even to same colour. Them fellas always run away.
You got to be careful. They can spear you quick.”
“Can you make friends with them?” I asked.
“No more. If you got rifle, it more better you shoot
that myall. Then he can’t kill you longa back.”
A full day in that barren, blazing inferno, grilled by
a pitiless sun, and no further advanced, it seemed.
No sign of habitation. A few kangaroos bounded
into the scrub. A startled buffalo lumbered away.
Fresh brumby tracks. That was all. Now, thorough-
ly depressed, I released the hobbled horse, built a
fire, smoked my pipe, and recalled that at that time
the year before I had been in Tokyo, living a life of
luxury in a flash Yankee hotel, playing the didgeri-
doo on stage with the folksinger, Lionel Long, and
being paid a small fortune by the Australian Tourist
Commission for assisting in the promotion of our
national virtues to a convention of American travel
agents.
Look at you now, I mused, plagued by a devastat-
ing irony: the backside out of your pants, not two
bob to bless yourself with, and bushed in the bum
of the continent.
At one stage of my journey, a rather sad and con-
templative one, I glanced up as the mare stiffened
and snorted. We had emerged from scrubby gum
country into a clearing, wide and lush with grass.
Ahead, scattered and mainly feeding, were a mob
of about thirty brumbies. Impressed by the unexpect-
ed beauty of the scene, I reined in and sat there, qui-
etly watching the wild horses in a natural setting. I
did not see the stallion at first; he somehow had gal-
loped up to me from the side, only his pounding hoof
beats signalling an approach. He was absolutely
spectacular, a light bay colour with a black mane
and tail, swishing and swirling at every movement.
He was almost infallible. Muscles rippled under his
glossy coat in a perfectly coordinated rhythm, and
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photo credit: Wikipedia
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dark eyes flashed his challenge as he pranced near-
by, half rearing to increase his height, whinnying an
alarm. I had always loved horses.
But the sight of this magnificent animal, untamed
and beautiful, gave an awful turn of pain to the
feeling, creating an indelible memory as perfect as
anything can be on God’s earth.
My mount became increasingly nervous as the mob
of mares and foals cantered up to stand and stare in
a rough half circle, all awaiting a signal to flee into
their secret bush haunts. Other brumby mobs I had
seen around Yuri’s back country were not nearly
as impressive as this. Many bore evidence of in-
breeding: misshapen heads and bodies, with long
and upcurled hooves restricting all movement to an
ungainly stumble, knotted tails and manes, matted
coats and thoroughly spiritless. These animals be-
fore me were clean and healthy, purely bred, as
fine as if they had been handreared in stud farm
stables and tended with loving care. The snorting
stallion stamped his way closer in a threatening
posture, his nostrils flared wide and redveined in
the sunlight. I sat motionless, speechless, control-
ling my mount through the reins.
Satisfied there was no threat, the stallion wheeled
and, with tail upraised, he circled his harem into
a group and tailed them off into the scrubby tim-
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ber country on the opposite side of the clearing.
Watching those wonderful horses disappear into
the distance, I was surprised to realise that my
blood was racing with an almost uncontrollable
excitement over the wonder I was privileged to
witness.
The third day dawned like a furnace. By now I was
convinced I would inevitably perish. It was merely
a matter of time. Possibly today. Tomorrow. Eventu-
ally. Riding along, I thought sadly of all the things I
had left undone: stories, poems, songs and books
unwritten, valuable time squandered, places un-
seen and experiences unlived. I deeply regretted
the waste of it.
As on the preceding days, every few hours I paused
to light a fire, toss on green branches and send a
column of smoke spiralling skywards as a signal of
distress. The Yuri Aborigines might see it, I thought.
Their eyes were always alert to anything out of the
ordinary. Smoke meant fire. Regular smokes meant
deliberate fires.
That meant man. It also meant communication and
need. Or so I reasoned in my befuddled, desperate
mind.
No answering smokes responded. The long futile
hours dawdled on towards another sunset. The mare
seemed to feel as hopeless as myself. Her head low-
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ered wearily and her pace slowed to a monoto-
nous plodding. Her flanks were hollowed and flies
caked on the dried blood around her brisket and
legs where bracken had ripped her. She suddenly
stopped. Glancing up, puzzled, I was astonished to
find an old fence blocking our path. A fence! That
surely meant that somewhere around it was a gate
and a track, one that might lead me back to people.
I hurried my mount along the paddock’s perimeter. I
saw a gate, an ordinary old rusted gate, but to me
it represented a symbol a safety and life.
It was then I slowly came to recognise my surround-
ings. A familiar red cliff told me that Yuri homestead
was less than a mile away. Emerging from the bush
near the homestead, some Aborigines spotted me
from their camp and sent out a welcom-
ing cooee.
The owner, Randy Ribbs, lounged against a ve-
randa post, watching with a wry smile as I ap-
proached.
“You look like you’ve been lost,” he grinned.
“Lost!” I exclaimed. “I’ve been more than lost. I’ve
had one bloody foot in the grave.”
“I saw your smokes,” he drawled. “We’ve been
watching them for three days now.”
“Well, why the hell didn’t you send someone out
to find me?”
“Why bother?” he shrugged. “You were headed in
the right direction.”
NOTE: The above is taken from the book, “Journey
Into Dreamtime,” an autobiography by
Bryan Clark, now awaiting publication.
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Photo references:
Bookabee Tours Australia, Dear tree
on rocky slope, Flickr, © 2007, under
Attribution licence, http://farm1.staticflickr.
com/128/391024269_1813c3bc97_d.jpg
Ciamabue, DSC 10438, Flickr, © 2007, under
Attribution licence, http://farm2.staticflickr.com/
1422/1333661951_095b7ff7cd_d.jpg
Captain Schroedster, Waiting, Flickr, © 2012,
under Attribution licence, http://farm9.staticflickr.
com/8464/8117364528_8ec89c3fba_d.jpg
NeilsPhotography, River crossing, Flickr, ©
2004, under Attribution licence,
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3116/
2348951727_fe0c9bb541_d.jpg
Brumby, Wikipedia Commons,
2007,http://commons.wikimedia.org/
wiki/File:BrunbyAusschnitt.jpg.
Rob & Jules, Oz Outback—Wild Horse, Flickr, ©
2006, under Attribution Sharealike licence,
Flickrsquared, Lonely fence, Flickr, © 2007,
under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
license, http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1161/
1231868489_2418936578_d.jpg
Turloughmor. Dawn outback. Flicker. © 2009
under attribution license. http://farm4.staticflickr.
com/3297/3472134415_a71824040d_b_d.jpg
Rob & Jules, Outback Australia, Flickr, © 2006,
under Attribution licence, http://farm1.staticflickr.
com/124/353606431_ce094ef591_d.jpg
photo credit: Flikr
Some rights reserved by flickrsquared
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