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Aussie Anecdotes

Aussie Anecdotes

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Aussie Anecdotes

Longueur:
361 pages
4 heures
Sortie:
Feb 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781988723495
Format:
Livre

Description

Have you ever thought to yourself that Australia’s history is slipping away?
After listening to a good yarn or having read some historically noteworthy passage or having followed a particular debate—you may think that you’d always remember it—but you didn’t! And don’t you wish you recorded those stories so that in your hassle-free times you could reminisce and again experience their inherent interest, emotion or challenge?
Here then is a faithfully reproduced anthology of quintessential Australian short stories, not just for those in their second childhood, but for young readers to gain a feel of an older Australia, and to also enjoy. The study of history in secondary education can be fascinating and inspiring—or boring beyond belief. Stories such as these will entertain students, challenge their thinking, and bring each subject to life.
This collection of works from seventeen contributors intentionally incorporates diverse (even controversial) topics. Some of these stories are undeniably true. Others are worthy of more research—still, others are fiction, which can express human truths better than non-fiction.
No matter how improbable, fanciful or quirky the reader may consider some of these stories, imagination is, after all, fun, boundless, and deserves to be shared.

Sortie:
Feb 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781988723495
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Trevor Tucker retired in 2005 from the oil and gas industry and although his first interest in writing was from a technical perspective, it soon evolved to ‘faction’. The author adds: ‘Though having been bitten by the writing bug, I sometimes wonder if I have retired.’ A chance meeting with a man who saved his life, soon revealed a history that needed to be rewritten; Trevor took it as his responsibility to share a story related to his father. Ned Kelly’s Son is the author’s first novel and his interests in Australian history, bushwalking, and exploring his homeland, reflect with passion throughout the book. With believable characters and a reliance on recorded history, he implants a strong probability of something neglected or overlooked in previous records about Australia’s most notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly. Trevor’s other interests include spending time with his kids and grandkids, writing, fishing, reading, bike riding, Test cricket, AFL football, and power flow yoga. Future works include another novel of Australian history and an anecdotal short story collection.

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Aussie Anecdotes - Trevor Tucker

DOG

The Australia Day long weekend had always been one of our favourite local getaway opportunities. It was a fun—sometimes hair-raising—few days, 4-wheel driving in the high country not too far from home.

On this occasion it was the 25th January 1998. Having packed up we set off for home. However, we reached the Winchester Crossing a bit earlier than usual so decided to boil the billy for morning tea before tackling the climb to the heliport. Having crossed the river and set the billy boiling, we heard a dog barking nearby. ‘Most likely some fishermen or shooters have left their dog tied up at their camp by the river,’ Beau casually commented.

However, there was a distressing tone in the dog’s barking, so I walked toward the river intent upon testing Beau’s theory. I hadn’t gone more than seventy metres from our vehicles and now the barking was quite close.

There are many abandoned and exposed gold mine shafts in these hills, and as soon as I recognised a tell-tale mullock heap I knew intuitively where the barking was coming from.

I peered over the edge of the shaft. Even in the gloom, about 10-15 metres down, I could see a red kelpie dog. It was looking up at me with a desperate look of help on its face.

I quickly announced what I’d found. Trevor and Beau grabbed a few ropes from our vehicles and we set about getting this unfortunate pooch out of its predicament.

Beau’s first assessment was, ‘He looks a good sort of a dog,’ but quickly followed up with, ‘but there’s no bloody way I’m going down there!’

We discussed a couple of strategies: for example, who was the lightest that could be easily lowered down and then pulled back up… but that was ridiculous of course.

Now, Beau had a confident manner when it came to ropes, knots and lassoes, etc. Lassoes: now there’s another story, but I digress.

Beau quickly fashioned a decent running noose from one of the ropes then lay on his stomach and hung most of his upper body over the edge of the shaft. After issuing instructions in terms which in no way could be misunderstood; i.e. that we must sit on his legs and make certain he didn’t join the dog, Beau lowered the noose, but missed… the dog was wriggling about and trying to get out using his own endeavours. On Beau’s second attempt the noose dropped straight over the dog (not that we ever doubted it wouldn’t) and we hauled him to the top to meet us.

It must be said, that in the excitement we nearly forgot the precarious position Beau was in. Though we quickly helped him back onto his feet, the colourful departure from his normal demeanour that followed was justifiable, as he wasted no time in reminding us of his earlier explicit instructions.

On closer inspection the dog was not looking too good. He was thin, and the pads of his feet were worn and raw. Nevertheless, Beau estimated him to be about fifteen to eighteen months old, and reiterated that he was, indeed, not a bad sort of a dog.

Back at the morning tea camp we all had a cuppa and biscuits, while the dog drank half a bucket of water and wolfed down at least a dozen or so biscuits. The dog, we decided, was Lucky, and with no encouragement, jumped into the back of our old Landy and settled among our camping gear.

We headed up to the helipad and upon arrival checked on Lucky; he was out like a light nestled on top of our swags.

When we arrived back at our farm, we set him up with his own pen and kennel alongside the other working dogs. However, as it was Australia Day when we found Lucky, we thought it would be more appropriate to call him Aussie.

To begin with, Aussie’s work ethics and cattle-ness left a fair bit to be desired but with Beau’s instructions and the knowledge he acquired from the experienced dogs, Aussie turned into a handy type. He was also a good and faithful friend to us and we missed him dearly when old age took him away.

~~~~~~~~

A Footnote: A few weeks after we found Aussie, Beau’s friend, Archie, called by to return something he had borrowed. As we stood in the driveway chatting—possibly about the weather—Aussie trotted up to check out our visitor. Archie looked at Aussie and asked excitedly, ‘Where did you get him?’

Before I could launch into our rescue story, Beau interrupted, ‘Why?’

‘Well, my sister lost a dog recently,’ Archie said, then quickly added, ‘when she was mustering cattle down on the Winchester.

‘Apparently they searched for days but finally decided the dog must have either drowned when they were crossing the river, or that it had been bitten by a snake.’

Archie went on to tell us that he had a full litter brother of his sister’s lost dog and that it’s a dead ringer of this dog of yours.

Of course, we told Archie our story, where after he asked if he could ring his sister (no mobiles then) and tell her about Aussie. Before he made the call, I said to Archie, ‘make sure you tell her that possession is 9/10ths of the law and that she’s not getting him back!’

The sister was pleased the dog had not perished and had a good home. I think Aussie was, too.

THE SMART-ARSE STOCKMAN

Any acquaintance of Beau was considered a friend. That was just the nature of the man.

But for one particular individual, Beau made an exception.

Like Beau, that person had spent most of his life around cattle. But whereas Beau generally preferred a patient approach, the other chap seemed hell bent on always trying to show how good he was by either cruelly using his whip—and often—or by callously urging his (basically useless) dogs to senselessly harass any frightened cattle that were in his charge.

Worse though was the pleasure that bloke extracted from his maniacal overuse of his electric cattle-prod.

After the Sale cattle sales on a particularly wet day, Beau was teamed with that bloke to load several railway cattle carriages. When Beau had finished loading his assigned carriages, the other chap was still screaming useless instructions to his dogs. The man also seemed to have some kind of personal vendetta, judging by the relentless attacks with his cattle-prod upon the confused, hapless cattle still held up in the loading races.

Beau wandered over to the kiosk that adjoined the cattle yards to partake in a cuppa with some of his mates and said, ‘Just look at that stupid bastard. You’d reckon he’d know something about handling cattle by now, eh? Mark my words he’s gonna get his comeuppance.’

~~~~~~~~

About three months prior to that day, Beau phoned me in Melbourne asking for a favour. Beau had seen an advertisement in the Weekly Times for a new style of electric cattle-prod, whose specifications really appealed to him. He asked me to buy one, knowing that I could soon deliver it because I’d arranged to visit my sister and Beau the following weekend.

After paying me, I heard Beau comment, ‘My dogs think they’ve retired, so I’ll need this to make up for the lazy shits.’ At the time, that seemed a bit odd. I knew Beau was against unnecessary and heartless treatment of cattle. (However, with equal certainty, I knew he was not reluctant to use a cattle-prod if wild, potentially difficult bulls were being uncooperative.) His purchase seemed justified, so I soon forgot about his new cattle-prod.

~~~~~~~~

At the cattle yard kiosk, Beau was on his third cuppa when the other bloke stormed into the kiosk, cursing and mouthing off about how unruly ‘his’ cattle were… and how ‘he’d sorted the bastards out.’

Because it had stopped raining and to avoid the man’s company, Beau and a few of his mates went outside to finish their drinks. Unfortunately, the bloke soon joined them.

Though wet underfoot, it was not cold. The bloke removed his Dryzabone coat and then leant with his now naked shoulder against one of the steel posts which supported the veranda of the kiosk. In that pose he continued ranting and big-noting himself.

Casually, Beau threw away the dregs from his cup and walked away, creating the impression that he was going back inside the kiosk to return his cup. But as he passed the smart-arse bloke, Beau deftly placed his brand-new, fully charged, high performance cattle-prod against the steel post.

There was an almighty crraaak! as the cattle-prod discharged.

Mid-sentence the bloke screamed and leapt into the air, hitting his head on the underside of the kiosk’s veranda. Laughter erupted from the other stockmen.

Beau was laughing, too, not at his clever execution of the cattle prod, but at the final result: much better than he ever dreamt of, for it had suddenly started raining again, heavily. And, the bloke was now on his hands and knees in the rain and mud searching for his false teeth while swearing colourfully.

‘Well, that’s you sorted then, eh?’ Beau chortled. In the midst of enthusiastic congratulations and prolonged laughter from the other stockmen, Beau casually put on his Akubra hat and jogged off through the rain to his ute.

COLD… I’LL TELL YOU ABOUT BEING COLD!

Late one cold afternoon in mid-August 1957, Beau and a lifelong friend, Rueben, arrived at Nimmitabel, a small town about one hundred and sixty kilometres south of Canberra. Their job, scheduled to start early the next morning, was to relocate one hundred and forty head of cattle by droving them to a property near Bairnsdale, in Victoria.

Taking their shared packhorse, Rueben immediately went in search of his brother’s house where he intended to share some time reacquainting himself with his brother’s family and to stay for the night.

Not wanting to impose upon anyone since times were a bit tough, Beau had politely refused Rueben’s offer to accompany him. Besides, Beau was no stranger to sleeping out. He was happy to take up residence in a stockman’s hut located about half a kilometre from the stockyards where the cattle were now yarded in readiness for their journey south.

However, after an otherwise normal day, things progressively went from annoying to potentially one of the worst nights in Beau’s life.

By now it was dark. The hut was locked, and he had to break the door lock to gain entry. Inside there was a small kerosene lamp, but its tank was less than a quarter full. The kerosene stove had definitely seen better days and it too was almost out of fuel. Plus, the previous inconsiderate occupant had used all of the wood for the combustion stove and not replaced it. Even if he had a decent lamp, Beau had no intention of cutting wood in the dark. What's more, had there once been an axe at the hut, someone had borrowed it.

Under a cloudless sky, it was rapidly becoming damn cold: Beau’s breath and that of his horse, hung in small clouds in the still night air. He led the horse into the hut’s lean-to stable and then, having removed his swag, saddlebags, saddle and bridle, fitted a halter to the horse and tied-off the free end. While the horse fed contentedly on some oats from its nosebag, Beau rubbed the horse down, draped his Dryzabone coat over its back and secured the coat as best he could. There was a large bucket just inside the stable door which Beau assumed held water. It did… and a thin crust of ice had already formed on its surface!

The hut was a crude wooden structure with a single window, no curtains and a door that now failed to shut properly. Given the number of gaps in the walls and roof, when a breeze suddenly picked up, the temperature inside the hut plummeted.

Food was the next issue. The gas stove operated just long enough to thaw some canned food, but its flame expired before the billy boiled.

Shortly after, the kerosene lamp’s flame sputtered… and went out.

Surprisingly, some previous occupant had generously donated a sizeable strip of carpet, which almost covered the floorboards. His two dogs, now inside and curled up on the carpet, seemed more intent on keeping warm than eating the cold offerings Beau had fed them.

Beau was bored. He also had no heat, no light, no radio, no company, and he was still hungry. Now feeling well and truly pissed-off by his predicament, he pulled on a second pair of trousers, a second jumper, two additional pairs of socks, and decided that he may as well go to bed; perhaps he might get some sleep if he could get warm enough.

In the meagre light cast by the moon, he then studied the bed. The mattress was ancient; about one centimetre thick. There were no sheets and the pillow seemed to be filled with strips of leather. The only blanket was old, frayed and very thin.

But at least he had his swag, which he unrolled and lay over the mattress. Then, fully clothed, he carefully climbed into his swag. However, as he started to spread the old blanket over his swag, alas, the bed collapsed. Cursing, Beau dragged himself out of his swag and levelled the bed. But just as he was about to climb back into his swag, he realized he needed to pee.

Despite now wearing two layers of clothes, the viciously cold breeze that greeted him as he stepped from the hut almost took his breath away. His fingers were unexpectedly so cold that they had almost lost all sense of feeling. But worse—as he fumbled with the buttons of his trousers—he quickly suffered the impact of the searing cold on his fore-regions.

Teeth chattering, and shivering violently, Beau eventually climbed into his swag, seriously wondering if he would actually survive the night.

~~~~~~~~

At dawn, the wind had abated. However, it was still freezing inside the hut. The dogs hadn’t moved all night and snarled as Beau opened the door. Stepping outside, he was greeted by the most intense, crackling frost that he’d ever experienced. The water bucket in the stable had frozen solid. Somehow his horse had survived the night but looked downright miserable.

Beau soon gathered sufficient wood to fuel the combustion stove and before long he was sipping on a hot, very welcome mug of tea. Soon after, he again fed the horse. The dogs eventually agreed to get moving, but not until Beau had heated their uneaten meal from the previous night.

At eight o’clock, Rueben arrived at the hut. The sun had now risen and the frost, though still widespread, was in retreat. Beau was leaning against the side of the hut, basking in the sun’s early rays, gradually thawing-out and enjoying another cuppa.

‘G’day, mate,’ Rueben called out cheerily. ‘A decent sort of frost, eh? How’d yah get on last night?’

‘No problems at all. Slept like a log,’ Beau replied sarcastically but with equal cheer, then casually added, ‘once I’d pulled up the carpet and slung it over me swag.’

As they rode off to the cattle yards, Beau explained how his night had unfolded, then said, with just a hint of a smile, ‘I’m a bit disappointed in the attitude of me dogs. I know it was a bit cool last night, but I did the right thing by ‘em and let ‘em inside. I thought they’d be grateful. But do you know what? When I tried to pull up the carpet they were sleeping on, the uppity bastards growled and actually showed me their teeth! They’ve never done that before.’

Rueben roared with laughter. But what Beau never told Rueben was that he cut away the carpet from around the dogs, leaving them undisturbed, and then heaved the remaining portion of the carpet over his swag in a final attempt to get warm.

A GOOD SORT OF A HORSE

Beau was a bushman and horses were always a part of his life. He was also a very good rider; no terrain was too tough to be by-passed, no jump ever declined, and no horse of ill-disposition ever refused a chance to unseat him. There was not a horse Beau could not ride... or so we thought.

~~~~~~~~

Beau loved show jumping, but condemned steeple and hurdle racing as unfair and unnecessarily tough on horses.

Because of his love of show jumping, his preference was for either thoroughbreds or a bloodline of proven jumping ability. Though his finances did not always extend to allowing him to enjoy those horses, he reckoned he could always judge a good sort of a horse.

And Beau was always forthcoming when it came to giving advice about horses in general, one of his most passionate catchphrases being, never go to the saleyards thinking you’ll buy a good horse. You’ll only end up with someone else’s problems.

However, on one occasion Beau ignored his own advice, succumbing to purchasing from the Sale saleyards what he reckoned was… you guessed it, a real good sort of a horse… and with heaps of obvious jumping ability. Well, that’s what he told me to justify his decision.

Arriving home the next afternoon, I stopped my car alongside the cattle yards where Beau was perched on the top rail. His good sort of a horse was standing amid the dust still swirling in the yard, snorting and heaving… and obviously still a little agitated.

‘How’d it go?’ I queried innocently, but then immediately noticed how his bright blue eyes sparkled, that tears were running down his cheeks, and that his hat was set at an unusual angle on his head.

He turned slowly toward me. Wearing a gaze of astonishment he said, ‘Jesus Christ that bastard can buck!’ What I never learnt was exactly how he ended up on the top rail of the cattle yard fence.

THE LUCKIEST FOX EVER

While staying with my sister, Jill, and Beau at the Stockdale Country Club (the title euphemistically thrust upon my sister’s farm) during the 1991 Christmas holiday period, my daughter, Shelley, and son, Callum, were bored and becoming irritable. Understandable I suppose, for the day had been hot and the evening was still uncomfortably warm.

In an attempt to relieve that boredom, I suggested we all go outside to see if we could spot any satellites. The kids were keen, but Beau decided to go to bed. Jill was more interested in the form guide for the following day’s horse racing at Flemington and also declined.

My sister’s farm is accessed via a bitumen road but in no stretch of the imagination is it a major thoroughfare. Given the unlikely possibility of any cars passing this way, at this time, we decided to lie on our backs in the centre of the road and study the heavens. No trees obscured our view of course and, yes, it was a novel location for such observations.

The night sky was cloudless; an intense black against which The Milky Way blurred from horizon to horizon. Thousands of individual outlying stars blazed brilliantly.

Shelley sighted the first satellite which we enthusiastically tracked until it disappeared over the horizon. Soon after, Callum yelled excitedly and pointed to where he’d spotted a small shower of shooting stars.

While mentally congratulating myself for suggesting this activity, again suddenly, Callum hissed a loud whisper. ‘Look! There’s a fox. See it… right there!’ Sure enough, a fox, about only twenty metres away, was skulking across the road, heading towards the front yard of Jill’s house.

My sister has kept chooks for many years. During that time foxes have not only taken the occasional hen, but all the peacocks she once kept. Whilst the chooks are locked away in a fox-proof pen at the end of the day, those peacocks insisted upon roosting in the trees at the front of the house. One-by-one over a period of several months, each of the seven peacocks paid the ultimate price for their independence when in the morning, they had recklessly returned to the ground from their roost—and into the jaws of a patiently waiting fox who had learnt their careless routine. Slow learners, peacocks.

So, presumably, this fox was intent on checking whether we had closed the chook pen gate and if so, were there perhaps any stragglers locked out.

The fox is a smart creature. However, on this occasion when we stood, it froze. Clearly it hadn’t previously seen, smelt or heard us as we lay on the road.

Down one side of Jill’s house is a windbreak of ancient and huge Cypress trees and we expected the fox to head straight for that cover. But it didn’t. Inexplicably, it turned and ran along the front fence.

From this point on things got interesting.

Leaning at an angle against the front fence were what appeared to be two pieces of wood each about sixty centimetres long and fifty millimetres thick. The fox went under them and sat. Here was my chance I thought. I’ll sneak up and dropkick the bastard, hopefully either stunning it or even killing it. I quietly approached the fox’s hiding place, judged what I reckoned was a lethal distance from it and kicked, hard!

Inexplicably, somehow, I missed the fox but made perfect contact with those objects… which I later learnt were solid pieces of steel—weights used to hold-down Jill’s set of pasture harrows!

From that moment on I was out of action. I thought I’d been shot and magically, I now had a huge, very painful lump on my shin.

Despite being in excruciating pain I yelled, ‘Quick, Shelley, run inside and tell Jill what we’ve found.’ Shelley responded immediately, but she was nevertheless confused. She hadn’t realised what had befallen her hapless father, only that for some strange reason he was hopping about holding his leg and groaning.

Less than two minutes later Jill arrived, twelve-gauge shotgun in one hand, a powerful spotlight in the other. ‘Righto, where is it?’ she asked, keen to despatch the intruder.

Callum had seen the fox leave its steel hideout, go through the fence and make for the stand of Cypress trees. ‘There!’ he yelled. ‘Look where I’m pointing; under those trees.’

Sure enough the fox had stopped. Jill’s spotlight quickly settled squarely on it. ‘Here, Callum,’ she commanded. ‘Hold the light steady on the fox while I aim and shoot.’

Now, you need to appreciate that by this stage, Beau was sound asleep… and that his bedroom wall was only a few metres from those Cypress trees. So when Jill fired, the noise rudely shocked him out of his otherwise peaceful slumber.

Things then got even more interesting.

Beau dashed outside to where we were standing, and demanded, ‘For crying out loud, what the bloody hell’s going on!?’ Of course he deserved an immediate explanation, but we were somewhat taken aback. He made quite a sight in the full brilliance of the spotlight on him… minus his false teeth, and bloody angry! But worse, I don’t think any of us knew Beau slept naked.

Slightly embarrassed, we quickly explained the situation and then Beau stormed back inside. I can’t recall what he said, but I suspect it wasn’t particularly charitable.

In the meantime, Callum was trying to find the fox’s body. It should have been there, but, where exactly? After all, the damn fox was almost sitting on the end of Jill’s shotgun when she’d fired.

We searched for about five minutes but there was no sign of the fox. ‘Surely I couldn’t have missed the bloody thing?’ Jill muttered, but then quickly added. ‘Struth, I must’ve blown it up into the branches. I can hear its blood dripping.’

But it wasn’t blood, it was water! Jill had missed the fox but had managed to shoot several holes in the sprinkler system poly piping which runs under the Cypress trees.

At breakfast the next morning, Beau was philosophical, but still annoyed. ‘I hope you lot thought to close the isolation valve, otherwise the tanks will have run dry by now.’

We looked at each other, aghast. Bloody hell, in the excitement we had forgotten to isolate the sprinkler line!

‘Good God,’ Beau lamented, easily recognising our mortified looks but quipped before anyone could apologise, ‘Luckiest damn fox ever… but they’ve got long memories. Mind you, I doubt if it’ll return even knowing how lousy a shot you are, Jill.’

BEES

With winter 1995 rapidly approaching, Beau decided it was time to attack a downed red-box gum tree: now weathered and dry, it would make perfect fire wood.

By the time we were ready to start work, the morning was surprisingly warm. Regardless, it was a perfect late autumn day… one to be remembered.

As usual, this job was hard work and we had soon both discarded our jumpers.

While Beau

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