Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Henry Dashwood Sealy-Vidal - Sketches of Australian Life, ca. 1900
MLMSS 7188

[Page 1]

Sketches of Australian Life

[Page 2]

Australian Bush Scenes.
Flotsam Jetsam.

Living as one does upon the mai one of the main roads of the Country there is ever passing to & from the twixt City & Country a constant stream of men "on the Wallaby" - of these constant travellers a few here & there are bona fide working men, going to take up work at same "station" outback or on some public works in the far interior. In the Early spring there will be an incessant stream of shearers making away to the Earliest sheds with a view of making their way back so as to be home again in time for harvest - of these the large proportion are respectable young men sons of farmers & selectors who go regularly year after year to the same sheds - but there are also amongst them some of the most worthless reckless ne'er do wells the Country holds who appear in their true character when

[Page 3]

some pretext can be found for working up a strike - Past experience has shown that they will stick at nothing - from burning woolsheds and grass paddocks to maiming horses & cattle and if necessary committing murder.
In addition to & quite separate from these who do work occasionally is the enormous army of good for nothing loafers who live upon the foolish generosity of dwellers by the roadside These are variously known as "Sundowners" from their habit of making for a station just about nightfall & so securing supper bed and breakfast on pretext of' 'wanting to see the Boss' to see if there's a show to get a job . 'Swagmen' too they are, from their habit of carrying a swag the technical name for their few clothes & blankets which they roll up more or less artistically in a tent or fly and carry slung on their backs -

[Page 4]

Another soubriquet is "Whalers" or "Murrumbidgee Whalers", the exact origin of which it is hard to find. The local name however describes a peculiarity. The Murrumbidgee is a river which runs through hundreds of miles of large station holdings to which it gives a chief value as a never failing water supply - The Whalers are a numerous and increasing body of loafers who year in & year out travel from one station to another up one side the river & down the other, round and round never doing a days work but begging stealing a living, content if they can get enough to eat & drink & an occasional cast off garment to cover their nakedness.
That some drastic measure will have to be taken to deal with this growing scourge is a fact forcing itself upon the notice of a good many of the most thoughtful people of the Country - but the great difficulty at present is dealing with

[Page 5]

the matter is the egregious folly & thoughtlessness of those who still continue to feed these loafers -if their means of livelihood were withdrawn, they'd have to withdraw too - For ourselves, we are rarely troubled tho' living but a few hundred yards from the main Western Road & occupying a position which generally ensures pretty free victimising by the unscrupulous. The reason of our being thus spared is that it is fairly well known 'on the road' that there is no free distribution tucker given but every man is expected to earn what he receives by doing some kind of work before he gets it.
We have had occasion at times to engage "generally useful" men to groom & milk cut wood etc & have experimented with men off the road but without much success - one who was so hired represented himself as an 'Old Rugbeian' down on his luck - he would gladly come & work for a small wage in order to have a comfortable home far the winter months - "he liked being alone" he said when told that our worked called us away a great deal.

[Page 6]

We found out why later on - when a cheque was returned from the Bank at -- marked N.F - it was a clumsy forgery committed by our public school man on an old bank form he had turned out of our writing table drawer but which belonged to a Banking Company with whom we no longer did business He is still at large & has probably & victimised several others since then "earning making his living" as one of his mates once stated in court, "out of the gullibility of the an uneducated public".
Another we engaged was a very religious young man - a gardeners boy from the Duke of B - gardens at home. (This statement we subsequently verified) and for a while he was exceedingly useful & obliging but gradually as he earned a few shillings he became terribly insolent & finally we had to sack him. He was one of the few good workers but restless & dissatisfied. He told us how he had come across certain members of the confraternity who did their best to dissuade him from working & refused to have him with them unless

[Page 7]

he consented to become a full member of the A.A.B. - on asking for an explanation of the letters he was informed it was a society of the Road which all young hands were expected to join - signified the Amalgamated Association of Bummers - he told us too of how some men travelled on what as they described "on the Salvation lay" i.e. posing as members of the S. Army & others on the Teetotal lay - & so on.
One of the worst features of this life is the terrible disregard of moralities. A man will pass up the road today & tell you his wife & family are in Sydney & he's looking for work - & in a months time he will pass down the road again with some woman he calls his wife whom he has picked up discharged from one of the up country gaols probably.
We had an interview once with a couple of these 'ladies'. One came to the house over night pleading greet poverty - she had a family of small children with her - her man was gone to look for a job at the house over yonder. "Could we give her some fat! to make some scones for supper'. In a moment of weakness we did so.

[Page 8]

Next morning soon after sunrise a very rough specimen of womanhood appeared at the back door with a filthy dirty old tin a demanded some fat of the servant girl who told her she had none to give away - she must see the boss - The boss happened to come along from the stable just at the moment. "Here I want some fat. That girl says you aint got none - but I knows better - cos you give some to another woman last night'. So there was nothing for it then but to produce the fat in order to rid ourselves of the unwelcome visitor & spare our ears the a treat of further eloquence - On another occasion the Boss happened to be cutting a few sticks of firewood when he saw a doubtful looking specimen coming up the hill to the house - the dog objected to him distinctly but is not allowed to interfere in these matters - so the gentleman was allowed to come up. Not satisfied apparently with the Boss' looks he opened the garden gate, walked up to the door - slipped off his swag, set down his billy can - gave himself a pull together & proceeded to go up the steps -
Thinking he'd gone far enough the

[Page 9]

Boss spoke to him "I want to see the Boss" was the reply - "Well here he is what can I do for you" -"Oh you're the boss are you?" with a critical up & down look - "Well I want a knife, will you give a knife'. "Well I'm afraid I can't do that. I don't keep knives to give away." "Oh don't you. Well I want one and I thought you ought to give it me!. I was sent over here - told you were a parson - wanted to see what sort of one you were - I don't think much of you." "Thank you good morning would you kindly step outside that fence." "Do you know you are only a b-- fraud but I thought as much - never thought much of the parsons & think less now" - "Would you kindly go!" "I don't know whether I will or not" - "Oh very well the police are handy & the matter is easily settled." (there are no police within miles!). "Oh I know you've got the law on your side but I want to tell you -" "there's the gate, will you go'' Well I'm going" picking up his swag - "Well go then" "Aint I going, what more do you want" &c &c - "I want

[Page 10]

you to hurry up & not put your foot inside this paddock again". A tirade of abuse was the only reply vouchsafed & these are the scoundrels who infest the roads & intimidate womenfolk if the men happen to be away from the home
Just coming in to breakfast one morning the Boss was accosted by a man - "Morning boss can you give a cove some tucker 'New rules here now - no work no tucker. "Well I'll do some work where is it?" "Here's an axe & there's a woodpile, go & cut some wood.' Hesitation. "But there's two of us. "Oh very well here's a saw- take an end apiece & saw it." Calling his mate - "But there's another - "Very well let him take the axe & split what you saw." Met at every point they had to go & work & earn their feed which they received & thoroughly enjoyed but there were no callers for tucker for a very long time!.
One more example & we are done. Two young fellows turned up one evening, said they were making up country. We called them invited them to camp in the hayshed instead of out in the bush & in course of conversation were struck with the

[Page 11]

conversation of one of them - he had run away from his ship - belonged to a wealthy family 'at home'. We took a fancy to him & asked him to come inside. He played & sang nicely & we spent a merry evening. Next day we gave them a plug of baccy & a pipe each & started them 'on the wallaby". Three or four days after the one we had fancied, returned His mate had cleared out, stolen his blankets & gone. We hesitated a moment but decided to trust hims word - took him in & fed him - gave him a railway ticket to Sydney & a few shillings & wished him good luck - Several months afterwards the English mail brought a letter from him telling us how he had managed to find a billet an a boat in Sydney & after doing a little coasting had sailed for the old Country where he had in due course arrived & been welcomed by his people. He wrote to let us know the little we had done for him was not forgotten & had been the means of his seeing old England again & in this thought of him we gladly forget the Whalers who have deceived us -

[Page 12]

Life in The Bush - By a Bush Parson

Sketches of Australian Life 1 By V.S.D.

Having read with considerable interest the varied accounts to hand from time to time of the intense enthusiasm exhibited whenever & wherever the "Colonials" appeared during the Jubilee Season, the conviction is forced upon one that any direct & true description of the daily life of the Australian will be acceptable to many English readers. Writers of fiction such as Ralph Boldrewood, Marcus Clark & others have given some sort of such pictures but they are somewhat too good - The Station homestead standing by the bank of some ever flowing river unaffected by flood or drought, the long vista of well fenced paddocks in which the cattle are browsing in grass up their knees and lazily brushing the flies from their shiny sleek sides, while the stud sheep with their wealth of golden fleece, conjure up visions of keen competition & highest prices in the coming wool sales. All this reads very well & gives to young England fond hopes which her adventurous sons oft seek to realize only to meet with bitter disappointment & after passing through years of hardship & want to go down to an unknown grave amid the their funeral march dirge the

[Page 13]

mocking rattle of the everlasting Eucalyptus & the mocking laughter of the kookaburra -
Gradually but surely a change is coming over the face of the older colonies - The squatter with but few exceptions is too often merely the representative of the Bank or the Syndicate large & ever increasing areas are being resumed for the purposes of closer settlement & with a view of encouraging the bona fide making of permanent homes by a thrifty class of farmers. The Governments seemingly realizing at last that an increased population of the yeoman class is for Australia does need to become needed to form the backbone of Australia's permanence & prosperity - Leaving them out of our sketch the station life with its luxurious laziness for some & bitter slavery for others let us pay a visit to one of the cooler farming districts of New South Wales, & see how the settlers therein live from day to day & year to year the homes of many of these Mounted Infantry for it is with in one of these that our own home is situate -
When we speak of farming, let it not be imagined for a moment that there is any approach to farming as understood at home - 'farming' is merely used to describe the life of those who make their

[Page 14]

living by means the growing of certain crops in contradistinction to the 'Grazing' & 'dairying' industries - in this district under notice these crops are wheat, oats for hay & potatoes -
The first & great desideratum is to get as much land as possible under cultivation utterly regardless of the comparative value of a small area intelligently & cultivated & a large area scratched over & the seed thrown on it & left -
Having then obtained an area of from 320 to 640 acres of land from the government your farmer begins by clearing say 20 or 30 acres for immediate use - trees are grubbed out by the roots (no child's play) - the small wood burnt & the large utilized for fencing - the butts & main trunks being drawn into rough lines & the limbs & smaller trees placed built on to these again. Any really serviceable trees being are sawn into regulation lengths & split into posts rails or slabs for indecipherable later use in building permanent fences, stables, sheds & so on - the ground being cleared is immediately ploughed - wheat or oats sown - harrowed & left - & attention is now turned sometimes to preparing a small patch for potatoes & other household requirements - this work is done of course by the men & elder boys of the family.

[Page 15]

The wife & daughters & young if there be any & younger boys spend their time in attending to the few head of poultry, milking the cows, feeding the calves - tending & the pigs & doing odd jobs around the homestead - generally taking care to have a small plot of flower garden which is protected from ravages of fowls by a close fence of small saplings indecipherable placed sometimes vertically &sometimes horizontally & held in place by others bound over them with strips of raw hide - stringybark or indecipherable wire from some old station fence -
For six days in the week the men folk are busy from daylight till dark employed in their proper ringbarking (in early autumn) to kill trees & so increase grass in the early autumn- splitting, fencing, drawing wood to the neighbouring township in order to raise necessary cash for weekly supplies from grocer or butcher, & for clothing for the rapidly growing family.
During large long periods it is evident there is nothing actually doing on the farm for there is no such thing as rotation of crops or - the only idea being to raise wheat & oats for hay -& a bit of maize for pigs & fowls & perhaps a crop of potatoes none of which entail much work after the seed is once sown for your ordinary Australian does not love "detail" work. Thus it happens that large numbers of the farmers & their sons

[Page 16]

when their ringbarking & fencing is finished will go off in early spring to the distant shearing sheds & their work & earn good wages until approaching harvest season tells them they must hie them home.
Then for two months or more in mid summer comes a terrible rush of work in order to save the indecipherable crops before they get too ripe & are lost the grain is shed. Every available hand is put to work - womenfolk are cooking & carrying tucker - small boys are binding or raking or stooking & all is life & business - Once the harvest is gathered the threshing & chaff cutting machines are out go out (these are generally done by one or two of the oldest & best to do farmers) & these same men that have been away shearing are now to be seen travelling around their own district with thrashing machine or chaff cutter - Teams are kept busy drawing to the nearest Flour mill or railway station - From this sketch of the daily round & common task certain facts must become evident to any thinking man - All the Eggs apparently are carried in one basket - that is if the harvest fails there is absolutely nothing to fall back upon exactly what does occur from time to time & hence debts for living accumulate which it takes the profits of ma[n]y good seasons to wipe out if they are ever wiped out.

[Page 17]

the crops having been in very many instances already sold to the storekeepers who have supplied their wants the farmer's wants during the year - For the first year or two but little ready cash is handled by your small farmer, everything being done by on the barter system - even the threshing of the wheat being paid for by so many bags per hundred a certain percentage of the result - (As time goes on and the area under cultivation is larger & the returns proportionately so, there is a margin of profit over & above the amount of the "Harvest Account" as the storekeepers call the amount of indebtedness.) Meanwhile during the gathering of harvest & the subsequent travelling with threshing & chaff cutting machines the potato crop if planted has been maturing - & must now be got out, ready for the first ploughing - This is done by contract - the potato diggers being obtained "off the road" - these The potatoes are bagged at once & stored (if there is storage room), if not, sold & held by the local storekeeper as a credit account as long as it lasts
Such is the sort of life so far as the actual business life is concerned. which marks the ordinary farmer from year to year - During the major portion of the year no more work is done than can be accomplished by the family itself. The farmers who are in a position to hire labour being few & far
between & large families of stalwart lads & lassies being the rule rather than the exception, and it may be said that the year is divided into two busy periods separated by long terms of comparative idleness - From wh these few observations we deduct draw the following conclusions. The ordinary farmer is a very shortsighted person who is content year after year to run the inevitable risk that ever accompanies the practice of carrying all ones eggs in one basket. If from any reason the harvest is a failure there is nothing to fall back upon & heavy debt for house keeping

[Page 18]

is incurred which it will take many years of comparatively prosperity to wipe out, even if it be ever wiped out. - But still he goes on, year after year hoping some time or another to get a turn of luck, till perhaps he is forced to part with his little home & try what he can do working for wages - or else seeks relief in the bankruptcy court & leaves disconsolate creditors biting their nails in vexation to recover the stock the best way they can - There is no earthly reason in the world why with the cler high class farming & close cultivation of smaller acreage should not be adopted with practical certainty of success in any ordinary seasons. But the country being so large big - & such large areas available it does not seem to trouble the Australian farmer one iota if he does not gather more than 15 or 20 bushels or wheat from the acre - he has so many acres & so much idle time - and none of his neighbours have ever tried anything different.

[Page 19]

Another evil of this one horse farming is that there is no encouragement or demand for & consequently no supply of competent all-the-year-round farm hands - but a roving population is for ever on the move from place to place in order to get a share of the work as it comas on - This is an evil the magnitude of which does not yet appear to have struck either the men themselves or their periodical employers - the country swarms with swagmen ostensibly looking for a job competent in their own opinion to do anything but proving on trial absolutely incompetent & as unreliable as incompetent.
They have never had any encouragement to remain in one place long hence they have acquired a restless habit & will never stay longer with than time enough to earn the price of a good "booze" & new a suit of clothes rigout - Happy Good for Australia will it be when intelligence is brought to bear upon the cultivation of the lands & the present system of rush of work & period of idleness shall give place to steady occupation the year round which shall at once encourage the laboring class to become

[Page 20]

Sketches of Australian Life ll
by V.S.D.

In our last sketch we dealt very briefly with the practical business life of the small farming class some of whose sons & brothers have but lately visited these shores England, & shewn the sort of stuff that they are made of. That they are always working & slaving, with no period of rest & recreation however it must not for a moment be imagined, for young Australia lives in the open air & will have its fun & amusement as regularly as & much more universally than, young England -
In this paper we will try & get a view of some of the lights & shades of the bushman's life - of the shades then first that we may not leave our readers in the dark! Apart from the ordinary trials of life to which all humanity is heir & which fall perhaps with intenser more intensity upon the lonely & isolated dwellers in the bush, who have so little to break the monotony, & so few to say the cheering word, there are special trials & dark places in their lives -
There is for instance that ever increasing curse the rabbit & the hare - acres & acres of young wheat & oats fall a prey to these persistent gourmands every year & in many places it is impossible to grow anything green except within rabbitproof fence - While the kangaroos & the wallaby marsupial has been almost exterminated its place has been taken with much more disastrous result by the rodent & it is becoming a serious question whether larger & ever larger tracts of land will not have to be absolutely abandonned by the grazier & the farmer. Intensifying the loss by rabbit or hare & practically crippling the whole country is the terrible "bad season" - drought when rain is wanted the heavens are as brass

[Page 21]

- when the stock are famishing for want of water & for grass, the crops are withering at the root &everything that ought to be green & growing is dead or dying - or else, just as the wheat has been cut, & before it can be garnered, down comes the rain in persistent deluge for days at a time & the whole crop is lost - while advantage cannot be taken to put in a catch crop of roots because the ground is not clear for ploughing - through such a time as this Australia of terrible drought New S Wales has but lately passed & well will it be for her if those in authority shall have learnt the lesson that bitter experience should long ago have taught them, namely, the necessity, aye the plain duty, of a comprehensive national system of Water Conservation.
Another shadow or blot upon the lives of these people is the terrible absence of all religious instruct & a consequent almost utter lack of high principles with concomitant low morality - Proofs of this are in daily evidence to anyone who lives amongst lower class. We have positive proof for instance that out of 34 marriages in one district no less than 16 were forced marriages. The sense of distinction between meum & tuum is very very shadowy & while folk are quick enough to discover a stray head of cattle in their own grass or crop, a neighbour's grass or crop may eaten bare by their stock before they are missed from their own paddocks - We remember in the course of our travels coming across an old resident whose next door neighbour kept several stands of bees - one day our friend happened to be looking through the crack of the door & unseen himself saw his neighbour examining his beehives - when lo & behold the bees were goodly bundles of wool taken from the pelts of sundry station sheep that had from time to time disappeared - & yet the "beefarmer" was a regular attendant at Church -

[Page 22]

Another terrible result of this innate want of pure religious principle is the frightful cruelty to dumb animals which is all too sadly common & which manifests itself in various ways from the actual belaboring of a horse over the head with a swinglebar till the nose is broken to letting a saddle horse stand tied against the fence for hours while the owner is having a "good time" over his cups - or the letting fowls roost in the open trees through bitter winter weather rather than take the trouble to put up a house for them *
How comes it, the reader may ask, that this state of things exists in a Christian land? - Simply because the Church of God has not kept pace with the growth of population - There are districts in charge of a single clergyman some of them as large, are the as or larger than,many two or three of the counties of England put together, the population of the whole being perhaps no larger than that of a single village in one of those counties - The parents are not qualified from owing to their own ignorance to teach their children even the simplest truths of religion - the schools are only allowed to teach the vaguest generalities & the visits of the clergy are so few & far between that the more practical secularities force everything else into the background. But taken on the whole to the superficial observer the average young Australian is by no means a bad specimen of humanity & doubtless as time goes on & the finer sense of advanced civilization penetrates deeper into the Bush he will gradually adopt the higher principles & morality as the savage races take to the tall hat & long trousers of the missionary -
Leaving the shadows let us emerge into the glare of young Australia's brightness - and first & foremost among the many lesser lights that together make the dazzling brightness of Sunny New South Wales is the

*or as was done by a large station owner only this winter shutting 10 head of horses into a bare yard without shelter of any sort through a night of driving sleet & snow, because they happened to have strayed into one of his thousand acre grass paddocks -

[Page 23]

universal & often times exaggerated hospitality to all & sundry. It matters not at what hour you reach a homestead - nor how humble that homestead, you are expected to remain & have a yarn & to share the a meal be it frugal repast or royal feast - to have a indecipherable drink of tea & a bit of damper & home cured bacon or sit down to a dinner such as would surprise the new chum & is washed down with the best brand of liquor This innate gift spirit of hospitality sometimes runs riot in our humble opinion & becomes almost wrong dangerous when exhibited as it too often is in giving indiscriminately of food to every swagman swagman that calls along the road, without demanding any equivalent in work - The practical outcome has been the establishment & support of a regular army of loafers whose time is spent in drifting up & down the country living upon the generosity of the settlers & never doing a hand's turn - So great is the evil in some districts that the item of "rations to travellers" figures out at an enormous sum by the end of the year - & folk dare not refuse now to give or they run the risk of having grass paddocks, haystacks or sheds burnt mysteriously -
Another bright star in the Southern Cross is the spirit of independence tho' this also of course can be turned to harm - every young Australian in the Bush is taught from very infancy by the exigencies of the case to take care of himself - & he speedily learns his lesson - Not a day no not an hour will he remain to be dependent upon others when once he is free from the trammels of compulsory education - if there is no work for him at home at which can feel that he is earning his living he will roll up his blankets swag "shoulder bluey" & "off on the Wallaby" or in plain English roll up his blankets & a few necessaries & go off to seek work elsewhere - & your willing youngster is generally pretty handy & find has but little trouble in finding more or less remunerative occupation the year round.

[Page 24]

The necessary absence of luxury, the regular lives & constant employment in the fresh air result in yet another very bright light & that is the splendid health & magnificent physique of the average young Australian - the prowess of Australia's cricketers footballer & military is well known in England & yet those who have visited the Old Country are but ordinary average specimens in
health & physique tho' of course they have received exceptional training in their special pursuits.
And now for some of the amusements which tend to lighten break the monotony of life in the Bush & to brighten lives that, but for them, might tend to moping & melancholy - a peculiar one One favourite amusement during the winter in the district which has the special virtue merit of combining business with pleasure is the Hare & Wallaby drive - This is a special effort periodically made to rid the district of the a growing curse - Its name is its own explanation - at the last which we attended on a bitter cold day some 320 hares were killed - the guns 20 in number were stationed on various hilltops while the 30 odd drivers some 30 in all starting having lined out at the other end of the various paddocks from to windward of the guns proceeded with continuous shouting, cracking of stockwhips & other noises to drive everything before them right up to the muzzles of the guns - the element of danger adds the necessary excitement - however accidents, however, are practically unknown - of course everybody is on horseback, the guns shooters dismounting & tying their horses during the actual drives - We must have covered in all some twenty five or thirty miles & driven several thousand acres of country, some of it very rough indeed - & we learnt that a hare coming straight at us with wind & fear increasing its hurry took a lot of stopping

[Page 25]

The friendly dance generally a surprise party is a favourite way of beguiling the weary hours of a winter evening. The whole countryside rolling up at the appointed place & each contingent bringing contributions to the supper table - Here dressed in spotless white with some gay gol colored ribbons, hair dressed la Parisienne & leaning on the arm of her best boy who is dressed in black diagonal tweed white faultless white shirt & green silk handkerchief round his neck is the girl you saw this in the morning washing up baking dishes dressed in pink flannelette jacket with sleeves rolled up above the elbows & a nondescript skirt & apron gunny bag apron & her hair tightly twisted up in patent curling pins -
We must not forget the Race meeting - held in a stubble field just after harvest -"going" hard as a macadamised road & dust that absolutely preventing a sight of the struggling equines. The grandstand a conveniently situate hillock in middle of the course & the refreshment booth a couple of tarpaulins stretched over rough bush timber sheltered - Here for prizes of 20/- or 30/- are and sundry bridles are congregated all the best known "hacks" in the district with a sprinkling of 'dark'uns' from some small racing establishment - the excitement is as intense & the feelings run just as high as upon the best known race tracks in the world - An occasional modification of this meeting is that held at the wayside pub - with the road for a course & the fences for a grandstand - the winning post the signboard & the outcome glorious incapacity & a sore head next morning.

[Page 26]

Thus in addition to the ordinary cricket & football does the young natives amuse himself themselves - & help one another over the style stile ennui - and such is the natural buoyancy of spirit & exhilaration of climatic condition that the shadows are soon left behind even if they are allowed in the smallest degree to stop the onward flow of life's pleasure stream on which the young Australian embarks in our humble opinion all too soon - nor leaves it till eye is too dim & limbs too stiff to grows dim & limbs feel stiff & having passed from young Australia to oldest inhabitant he at last reluctantly consents to "take a back seat"

[Page 27]

Sketches of Australian Life III

Some typical Bush Houses

Leaving out of our consideration as originally stated the Station Homestead & its surroundings of comfort & sometimes of luxury let us take a drive around & call at some of the wayside homes
And first among these we visit a quiet old homestead nestling in a hollow & surrounded by pine trees, poplars & a huge cherry tree - The house itself stands in a little garden fenced around with blackberry bushes & is built of brick with shingle roof. Age & decrepitude have caused some of the floors to assume rather a position considerably out of a somewhat wavy appearance while the doors refuse to close too tight & the windows are somewhat out of the perpendicular. Here not many months ago passed to his rest one of the oldest free colonists of this district at the age of 85 - a west of England native Among the books that lay upon the table was an old Bible which had been presented by one of the family of Trefusis - His daughter now owns the home & surrounding property which is let out to farmers for a small annual rental on which the owners try to live! A weekly visit to the town in Spring Cart loaded with eggs & butter & in season cherries & gooseberries enables the good wife to keep the house supplied with the few necessities of life - Just such a house this as one might come across anywhere in the old country, which has never been forgotten & has left it's stamp upon all the lives forev of this family.
We leave this peaceful home reminding us as it does of the happy days in dear old Devonshire & go a bit further where we strike a much more typical Australian home.

[Page 28]

A small slab house, bark roofed, standing within a 'yard' which is fenced with round which once stood but now falls down, a panel paling fence - Here dwell father mother and eight children, the accommodation consisting of a kitchen, a sitting 'room' & a bedroom. The man owns a small farm but spends much of his time away shearing or at any other remunerative work. On one occasion he left wife & four children at home while he went to earn a few pounds to increase the comforts of home & on his return was somewhat disturbed to find his small family almost doubled - his wife having meanwhile presented him with 3 splendid girls - they are now some four years old & their appearance speaks volumes for the healthiness of their surroundings & upbringing.
To the uninitiated the marvel is where do they all camp at night but they manage to stow themselves away somewhere & everything goes well unless there happens to be sickness when there is more or less difficulty - It must not be imagined that these people show any signs of poverty like their unfortunates who herd together in the rookeries of old [?] County Cities - they live well are healthy & strong, & having known no other condition of life seem perfectly happy & contented. But it is a curious life, lived all day summer & winter alike in the open air, the children never thinking of entering the house except for meals & bed.
Another home with which the writer is particularly familiar. The man has a small farm but spends most of his time upon the road drawing firewood to a neighbouring mining camp, or else in the Bush "splitting", i.e. getting fencing timber posts or rails for which he receives 2.15.0 per 100 "at the stump" or
3.15.0 delivered.

[Page 29]

The wife & children are often for weeks at a time left at home alone - the house - sleeping apartment is of slabs timber with galvanized iron roof divided a long narrow building some 45 feet long by 10 wide entered by with two different doorways opening one into a sitting room (never used hardly), the other into one main bedroom which in its turn opens into another - In course of time no doubt there will be added to this a verandah if but that depends largely on the season & the resultant harvest - This family lives except at night either in the open air, sitting about on blocks of wood, stumps, or the ground if fine or in the old house kitchen - This is a most picturesque relic built originally of slabs with a bark roof - the ridge capping being also of bark sheets of bark laid horizontally over the edges of the vertical sheets which form the roof & kept in place by long heavy poles strung in strips of bark over the ridge - This is the economic Bush house, the bark having been stripped off the trees from which the slabs were split & the strips of bark which hang suspend the poles having originally covered the same poles - rafters, wall plates & tie beams are all of small poles cut in the course of clearing the ground - the actual cost of this style of building being simply the labour expended & two or three pounds of large wire nails - The kitchen under notice now lets serves as storeroom as well - the fireplace at one end is built of large rough basalt rocks set in red clay, the chimney being of bark. In many places the bark has perished with age & bagging has been tacked over the apertures, while here & there a slab has fallen out of its place as though tired of standing so long.

[Page 30]

Yet another typical dwelling of the man who has just taken up a piece of ground - This is a "skillion" roofed place - a "humpy" built of sawn stuff set up & down, the cracks covered up with narrow battens - the roof skillion is almost flat there being just sufficient slope to carry off the water when it rains - the floor is nature's - a door opens is set in the middle of the building, a window being on each side of it - immediately opposite the door is the fireplace built as in last case of rough stones but in this case the chimney is of galvanized iron. Across the building on each side of the door is stretched a stout piece of rope from which is hung some plain chintz curtains - thus dividing the house into three rooms - each about nine feet square - the centre being kitchen, the other two bedrooms - Should providence prove kind & the seasons turn out well in the course of a few years this house will doubtless become the kitchen a main dwelling house having taken its been built onto it or adjoining it. Meanwhile the family live here happy & contented - When last we were at the place the man was busily occupied with three horses pulling huge briar bushes out by the roots thus clearing the ground - the wife was hard at work putting wire netting round what was to be the garden whilst the eldest child a boy of 8 years old was digging lustily with an aged pick, the other children playing around happy as the day is long.
Within the circle of this man's fence there lives temporarily another family whose dwelling is worth a passing notice - they were somewhat summarily 'evicted' from their former home & had to find shelter as best they might - for some days they might have

[Page 31]

been seen camped under a huge gum tree - their furniture all stacked around them - their only shelter a tarpaulin. Having obtained permission to remain on this piece of ground a house was built! Five poles were set in the ground, four comer posts & a door post - wall plates were fastened to the tops of these & lo! the framework - then two long forks were set to carry a ridge pole .. the sides & ends were covered in with sheets of bark & the tarpaulin thrown over the ridge & gathered & tied & lo! the roof. Into this is moved the family bedstead & a few chairs & all is snug for the winter. - Cooking is carried on outside over a fire made against a large log. For the fowl house originally a couple of poles were tied into the lower branches of a large shady gum tree but latterly several strips of bark have been thrown over a ridge pole fixed one end in a forked stick, the other resting on a large log - & thus a fowl house has been built -
Of Homes on wheels we have a few also. The most ordinary common of course being the ordinary dray covered with a tilt - under which womenfolk sleep - the menfolk camping on beds of gum leaves strewn under the dray. This gum leaf bed is the natural bed of the 'traveller' & is not without its recommendations, having been proved in some instances at any rate distinctly beneficial for rheumatism. Of course the Eucalyptus leaves are largely used medicinally. A bucket of hot water poured on fresh leaves & set under the bed being a homely specific in cases of croup & bronchitis, while the Eucalyptus oil & extract of commerce is well & favourably reknown in treating colds & coughs & aches & pains resultant from cold & damp.

[Page 32]

One 'turnout' we remember well passing through the township - it consisted of a piano case set on a light frame over four wheels wooden wheels - when we say wooden wheels we mean ordinary blocks of wood sawn off a round log & bored through the centre to this carriage was attached a pair of shafts made from two small poles. In the shafts was a bovine of some sort of a pony, very poor, & very old & the harness consisted of various bits of rawhide & rope - A woman barefooted & clad somewhat scantily with a predominance of bagging led the horse - in the case were two small children perched up on blankets & bags - while other sundry children walked on each side the carriage while father brought up the rear - all were barefooted & the whole family wardrobe
would not have served to keep out much wind from any single member - Cooking utensils & a miner's prospecting dish hung in festoons on the sides of the case - & so they travelled from place to place camping under fences at night alongside enormous fires & thus would they live from year to year rather than that the man should obtain steady work on the proceeds of which to keep wife & family in some sort of comfort - Another travelling home that impressed it's individuality very vividly upon our minds was that of a family of six - man & wife & four children - a small handcart tilt covered held the Lares Penates & afforded sleeping accommodation for the small children while a 'fly' made from sacks stretched of the shafts set in forks formed a tent for the parents - The man presented himself at our door & demanded 'tucker' -& was informed that with us the scriptural rule was observed - that if a man will not work neither shall he eat - upon which he shewed signs of restiveness - till we told him we were

[Page 33]

prepared to give him work digging potatoes & pay him the current rate for same with addition of a penny per bag for the sake of the children - He must consult 'the missus' & disappeared to return an hour afterwards saying he accepted the offer & asking for an instalment in advance of tucker. This we gave & the man went to work & took his eldest boy to 'pick up' - He worked for four or five days always calling for something or another each time he came to or went from work, till it became necessary to put a check upon the advances - the work completed he came for a settlement & claimed of course full pay for the number of bags dug - on our suggesting that he had received sundry instalments in shape of goods on a/c he set down his "billycan" & shewed fight & let a perfect torrent of abuse till we were obliged in self defence to retire & send out his money by the hired man with instructions to "chuck him over the fence if he shewed any more nonsense." For about six months afterwards we passed that establishment somewhere alongside the road though we never saw the man work afterwards - but the woman & children were practiced & persistent beggars & thus do some of the poor in Australia live -