When I was a kid I was serially molested by a sibling, and occasionally to try and act like she actually give a damn My mom would ship me off to the country to live with my grand parents. My grand father was one of the most honorable men I ever knew, he wasn’t an educated man in the typical sense he left school as a child and started driving bullock teams up and down the track delivering supplies to the people who settled our great land.
A full route with a bullock team leaving the docks with supplies for far cattle properties, and then bringing their mail to the nearest town in return would have him away from home for almost a year sleeping under the cart living off the the land. Grampa went from boy to man on those far distant trancks surrounded by no other living being save bullocks some of them a big as modern cars.
Grandma and Grandpa worked all over the bush, they ran great tracts of land called stations some bigger than European nations. By the time I came along they were already Grey haired and had moved down from the bush to a station called Anama, outside Clare south Australia. Grampa managed the stock for sir Richard and lady Hawker, the landed gentry of the area.
Grandpa was a small quiet man barely 5 ft tall but solid muscle, he once stepped in front of my molester who was 6ft 5 and 300lb and threw him to the floor and he must have been 70 at the time. He wasn’t a well read man, he read the farmers almanac and the bush trade papers but he knew off by heart every word ever written by the bards of the bush A.B.(Banjo) Patterson, and Henry Lawson and CJ Dennis and he knew the bible.
He used to sit in his old age working leather from daylight to dawn and even in the city he still kept a small herd of quarter horses right up into his eightes.He was a master saddle maker and whip maker, and leather carver, a gun belt or rifle sheath or whip or inlaid saddle by My grandpa was a prized possession in the Australian bush.
We would use this quiet time for him to talk to me, he would tell me it wasn’t my fault and he would use the time to teach me the great words of the bush poets and something to this day what takes me to a better place is reciting the words of these great men and remembering the tough little giant of a man who taught me my grandpa”grampy”
Grampy died in April 1986 and my prized possessions were a carved money purse and a belt with a rodeo buckle, he carved a herd of wild brumbies(horses) from nothing more than his memory running through his beloved bush on the belt. The saddest day I ever had was being mugged and my wallet stolen and the hospital cut the belt off. He was gone, there was noone in the shed at the back of the garden to make me new ones. There was no quiet reflection to tell me it wasn’t my fault, or challenge me to recite from memory man from snowy river or Clancy of the overflow.
This week I sit on my sofa in too much pain to push my wheelchair, from spine and rotator cuff injuries from old injuries rearing their ugly heads and my PTSD decided why not the more the merrier.
People equate strength with size, my molester was 6ft 5 inches and over 300lb and he was and still is a disgusting weak monster who preys on others yet grandpa was maybe 5ft, 5ft 1 at a pinch but he was the biggest man I knew. He tamed the bush and my gran, and that was believe me no easy task one eyebrow raised from that women stopped a rushing mob and he raised a dozen kids half not his own and lead a couple of hundred grand and great grand children before he died.
One of my best memories was of just before grampy died, I was waiting at an outdoor restaurant in rundle mall Adelaide for them and as I looked up the mall there was a small silhouette of a woman in a fox shawl and a hat with a face veil like something from the forties, and a man in a pinstripe suit and a fedora leaning on each other and as they saw me the years suddenly melted away and they were Bogie and Bacall they looked so strong and they loved each other so much.
Grandma lived annother decade after her “pop” and when she was gone the Aussie bush lost a pair of the great ones who helped start it all.
I really need them today, but Banjo will have to do. Below is his work hope you love it as much as I do.
THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.
There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.
And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.
But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long a tiring gallop – lad, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.
“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”
So he went – they found the horses by the big mimosa clump –
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”
So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.
Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”
When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.
He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.
He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill,
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.
And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.
And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.
The Bulletin, 26 April 1890