Monday, September 10, 2018

My last trip to Tasmania

My last trip to Tasmania

Driving a new E.J. Holden station wagon, I booked my car on to the large vehicle transport ferry Princess of Tasmania, from Melbourne to Devonport on the north coast of Tasmania, my life was on a roll, with a new Holden, my first trip to Tasmania, considered to be a gun shearer, and a shed to go to with United Grazers shearing contractors, arriving in Launceston i met with a couple of other shearers who directed me to the Victoria Hotel, they said that was the hotel where all the shearers drank and usually met on the weekend's, Bill Greig the biggest and most respected contractor in Tasmania used it as his office, I met up with Bill and he offered me a job but I told him I already had a shearing run lined up with United Grazers, Bill was like a Father figure to all the Shearers, he had a key to the hotel.
The following day I was to begin shearing with United Grazers, my time with them was short, some of the shearer’s were trouble makers real union cranks, they didn’t want to start shearing for some petty reason, I hung around for a few days, then the next week was still the same, so I decided to pull out, I telephoned Bill Greig and asked him for a job, after reasoning with him why I left United Grazers, he gave me a job out of Swansea on the East coast, I fell in love with Swansea and returned many times.
I remember one Sunday morning, a few other shearers and myself were having a early morning drink in one of the bedrooms at the Victoria Hotel, Launceston where we stayed on weekends, Bill poked his head in the door and made a fatherly comment, he would look at you like a father looking at a Son who has just got into mischief, but we all thought of him as a great bloke one of the best I have met.

The people in Tasmania at that time i thought were like a different race, or country a new breed different to Mainland Australians, some of the stories you here, One I remember, we were all sitting around a large table having our evening meal, in the farmers home where we were shearing, he was a tall lean looking character, dressed like a poor man and his speech was drooled, the house was nothing fancy a large room with a long wooden bench table, stories and jokes were being told by the shearers every time we sat down for a meal, then the Owner of the farm had his turn, he told us about someone who went to Hobart, he leaves off the H and pronounces it as Obart, from Swansea you drive down the east coast road to Hobart, you arrive at the Derwent River, Hobart can be seen on the other side, as the story goes this bloke arrived at the Derwent River where there is a small town, he stayed for the weekend, then he goes home and tells his friends he went to Hobart and Could see the light of Melbourne, actually he could see the lights of Hobart not Melbourne.
Since then they have built a Bridge over the Derwent River, the pillars are so tall out of the water like stilts, a ship could pass under it, when I first went to Hobart in 1963 they had a temporary floating bridge, one of my later trips I predicted a Ship would run into the Bridge and bring it down, my prediction came true years later.

My last trip to Tasmania

I had a brain wave to start a business manufacturing Shearers Trousers, and to do this we needed specialized side seam machines, they would have to be purchased in Melbourne,
I left Perth with my wife at that time, and baby Son Lance, I was driving a EA Ford Sdn.with a V8 motor, my plan was to find shearing in Victoria, buy a caravan then head down to Tasmania, with a few contacts I found a job shearing around Mansfield with a contractor named Harris, his Son John was supposedly a champion Shearer who won several competitions, well I mentioned to Harris I was looking for a Caravan and he said I have one you can buy, he was actually using it for his office and I don’t know why he would want to sell it, the only reason I could think of, he would make a good profit on the sale, on inspecting the Caravan, it was just what I wanted even better than I expected, with an Annex, TV Aerial, gas bottles, it was in very good condition, I immediately said yes I would buy it from him, and I gave him a Deposit, when the time came to pay the balance and pick it up, he had taken off the annex and TV aerial, the tight bastard, but i thought it was still a good deal, a couple of weeks later i drove to Melbourne on my way to Tasmania, we stayed at a caravan park near Melbourne. the lights on the Caravan did not synchronize with the Car so i had to change the wires on the coupling, and it was a cold wet night, this had to be done in the rain and was not an easy task. We were going to Tasmania the next day, on the transport ferry Princess of Tasmania so i had to fix the lights before i drove through Melbourne.
I sold the Caravan before leaving Tasmania for a profit, then i saw a boat on a farm and brought it back to Perth, i used the return ferry crossing for the boat and not the caravan, they didn't pick it up on the ticket, it was a windy day when we were embarking, and the breeze was blowing and the ticket was flapping, he overlooked the fact i was returning with a boat.

Buying a Boat in Tasmania and towing it back to Perth

Shearing at a shed on the East Coast between Swansea and Bischeno, and driving through the farm where I was Shearing on my way to town, i noticed a boat on a trailer siting in the paddock, looking like it had been  there for some time, asking around I found the owner with some difficulty and offered him 150 pounds with a little haggling we decided on 200 every one happy I went back a fiew days later on my way to Launceston and picked it up, I was driving a EA Ford V8 sdn, very soon after hitching the trailer with the boat attached and was to learn it would be impossible to tow it any distance at a reasonable speed, as the trailer didn’t have any springs, it was jumping all over the road, so proceeding at about 10mph, I reached a small town called Cranbrook where I found some one who could fit a set of springs, leaving the trailer and arranging to pick it up at a later date, I proceeded onto Launceston where I spent most of my spare time, I was married at the time and my wife wasn’t impressed, after the shearing was finished in Tasmania I was gong back to Perth as I came to Tasmania this time with a purpose to buy sewing machines in Melbourne, that is another part of my life I will explain in another chapter, well the trip from Tasmania with the trailer was unusual I guess, as I had to cross the Bass Strait on the Princess of Tasmania vehicle ferry with return ticket from Melbourne to Tasmania and return to Melbourne, the ticket was for a car and Caravan that I took to Tasmania, i sold the caravan, so preceding to embark with the boat, I was a bit apprehensive thinking I would have to pay for the Boat trailer, it was a cold wet and windy day so when the bloke inspected the ticket I held the corner of the ticket which was blowing in the wind and he didn’t see it was for a caravan. I used the boat to carry some of the extra luggage we had accumulated on the way, besides a heap of smoky quarts I had collected from a tin mine while shearing near Gladstone.
The lights weren’t working properly on the boat trailer, so sneaking my way through Melbourne we found a Caravan Park we rented a caravan and the following day we would go looking for sewing machines, we found the machines we were looking for and it was quite a experience to go through the company’s display and see all the different Sewing Machine,s, I don’t remember exactly what we did the proceeding days but I know we went to Millicent where my Brother was living, stayed there for over a week and I think our welcome was wearing a little thin, his wife Margaret would send her Daughter in quite often to ask us when we were leaving, so it was time to move on, back to Perth.

The drive overland crossing the Nullabore

The boat and trailer towed well considering, I never had a spare wheel for the trailer as they were an odd size, larger than the ford I was driving, and guess what, yes, I had a flat tire on the trailer, lucky me the spare wheel on the ford fitted perfectly except for the boat wheel being a larger size the trailer was leaning to one side, every where we pulled up for petrol we were getting funny looks and smiles but nobody was game to make any comments, I was probably the first person to tow a boat over the Nullabore, especially without a spare wheel, it wasn’t till we arrived in Norseman that I was able to find a second hand tire and wheel that fitted the ford and trailer.
We came across a care broken down on the Nullabore, a lady and two children were waiting for her Husband to return, he had been gone for two days looking for parts to fix there car, they were without water so we gave them our spare water, they looked so destitute, and it was bloody hot.
Then we broke down, and a couple gave us a tow for about eighty miles to a garage,they wouldn't take any money, it turned out to be something simple i could have fixed, i dident tell them, because i would have looked stupid, we saw the funny side later, we talked about it how this would be a good way to travel free.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Yinathara Station


From Yinetharra Station, Walking to Mt James

The day began as most days do on the weekend, with the cook bashing a pan to let everyone know breakfast was ready, Cooks were never seen to be mixing with the Shearers very often, they were individualls, i think the reason being they worked longer hours than the Shearers, seven days a week, they get up up about 4:30 to prepare the days food, and still working into the evening washing dishes and preparing food for the next day, they would get agro if you critisize there cooking, some cooks were good others were tollerated. i did just that one morning, every morning Sago Sago, (well known as frogs eggs), i said to him what's this stuff, he chased me out of the kitchen with a knife, then told the boss i said whats this shit. it must have been in his mind,

As most mornings on the weekends, looking for something to do,some times lying on my bed reading a book, usually i spent most of mine fosicking around the country looking for rocks, Yinethara Station was good for this, i was told every mineral in Australia was on Yinethara.

About mid morning a shearer called Tim was talking with me about the Mountain that could be seen in the distance, Mt James, he decided to walk to it without preparing any thing, or telling any one, without much thought i said i'd go with him, Tim was about six foot tall, me five foot five, so you can imagin me trying to keeo up with him.

The Mountain was Blue in the distance and looked to be not too far, so we head off in that direction, we walked and walked not knowing how far it was, going there wasent too bad, as the day got to mid afternoon we decided it was too far, it still looked blue in the distance, so we headed back to camp, without water, i was getting very thirsty, my legs were heavy from walking as i was not useto walking such a long distance and trying to keep up with tall Tim, on the way back he lost me as i couldent walk at his pace. The day was quite hot now, i was getting dehidrated, finally i came onto a pool of water, it looked stagnent and not clean, but it was a life saver, animal tracks were all around, insects were buzing over the top, without hesitation i got down on my knees and drank and drank, ahh that was good, not thinking what it might do to my gut, I continued on, what i thought was the general direction, not having any land marks to guide me, i felt a little lost, luckily for me i arrived back at the Station shearers quarters, exhausted and stuffed. that was a big lesson for me, and probably helpt me in many ways on my future journey.

Cairnes North Queensland

Cairns North Queensland Three men with a dream

 I made some good friends while working in Cairns, the ones that I remember most who are embedded into my mind, Maureen Dwyer, Jack and Dore I never knew there surname, Morris Watts and Wendy, Bill Shardlow and Fay, they will be mentioned as I write. There are others but I don’t remember their names, I also met my wife in Cairns on a ferry to Green Island. We have since parted thankfully, but in Deprivation to our Son Lance. Il tell you why in another chapter.
My time in Cairns was from May 1965 to January 1966 the eight months was an exciting time in my life, arrived in Cairns ... with two bloke’s I met in Sydney, Bill Shardlow and Sidney, a New Zealander. We drove from Sydney in my FC Holden Station Wagon Sdn., my pride and joy, I will tell you about my experiences in Sydney in another chapter, the trip to Cairns was a experience on its own, crossing rivers on Floating Punts, The burning of the cane before harvest, cane was cut by hand those days, the men would come from a hard day’s work covered in black suit, as we got closer to Cairns every local Queenslander we met were saying they are burning tonight, that meant burning the sugar cane, the fires were spectacular. The first night we arrived in Cairns stuffed and tired from the long trip, in the early hours of the morning, somehow we slept in the car three men and our luggage , I don’t know how, not knowing where we were, but somewhere on the strip that runs along the beach, woken by two Cop’s in a traffic patrol car checking us out, people were going to work, and the city was waking up, the climate was great very tropical and a experience I have not had before, I drove around the town to get familiar with the layout as you do when arriving in any town or City, you have never been in before. Bill is a great bloke, like a father figure, an educated man, i always think of him as someone who could talk to the Queen, an intellectual, or the poorest man on the street without any education what so ever.
 We found a Caravan Park some were out of town, the caravan was old and musty but cheap, Bill was the negotiator, and this was the case in other situations, he was also the oldest, he found us all a job with Frank Fransen, the biggest painting contractor in the northern hemisphere. We started work with him painting the raw timber to be shipped to Weipa on the Northern tip of Queensland, as there was a Bauxite Mine starting up there. It was hot and boring, but a job I was thank-full for, it led us to better work as time passed. Bill and I continued on Painting and he was sent to Weipa to paint the Men’s living quarters. Bills girlfriend Fay came up from Sydney, the three of us acquired an old wooden Home on Stilts, it was a great place to live, so fay and me stayed there and waited for Bill to return, we never got up to any hanky panky, although it entered my mind. But my motto is you never play up with your mate’s girl, when Bill returned we continued on painting with Frank Fransen. Painting was not my trade so frank negotiated with the Painters and Decorator’s Union to get me a Union ticket, and a small badge i treasured for years.
 A few experiences I had whilst painting, using a Spray Gun and not knowing how to use it properly, on the roof of a Warehouse, the spray gun blocked I was trying to fix it and suddenly it worked and sprayed paint all over my face, one of the workers in the ware house came to my rescue, it was Morris Watts, we became very good friends from then on, his nick name Mo we hung out in the bars, hotels, swimming pool, he was such a great bloke to be around, he had a girlfriend Wendy, she was a special lady, and suited to him. Mo lived at the local caravan park with Wendy, and on his Birthday he had a party and invited all the kids from the park, that’s the kind of man he was he gave them party hats and goodies, I had a misfortunate falling out with Mo due to a misunderstanding, we were at a Hotel having a few drinks , then I told Mo I was going home, walking along the street I met a couple of other mates and they persuaded me to have a drink with them, this I did , and then Mo turned up at this hotel, he must have thought I was lying to him or whatever, from then on he avoided me, it was a stupid mistake. We met up years later about 1970, he had moved to Perth with another Lady, they were friends from Sydney where he lived before going to Cairns, i was, walking down the street in Victoria park, western Australia and there was Morris, well what a surprise , he was the last person I expected to meet, and it all ended just as suddenly, as I went to his flat, he wasn’t home so i left a message under the door , I called his lady Wendy, as Wendy was the one he was with in Cairns. Wow Sue was livered, she didn’t want to know me, and I was not welcome, Mo understood, but Sue never forgave me, stupid bitch, so this ended my friendship with Mo. a stupid mistake on my part. I believe he should have stayed with Wendy as I believe they were more suited, Wendy was a great Lady, she would not have taken it seriously, who was the better person. Love can be blind. I met this Lovely Lady Maureen Dwyer, it was on one of my days to Ellis Beach north of Cairns, there was a beauty competition being held on the beach and I was fortunate enough to be there swimming on this special occasion, Maureen won first prize, she was a honey, this Lady has never left my life thoughts to this day, a few days later at the Cairns Swimming Pool, where I’d go every day after work and on weekends. Maureen was there in the pool, so I moved closer to her and said hello Maureen, she was surprised I knew her name , she looked just as lovely as the first time I saw her, chaperoned by someone  who just lay on the grass, he didn’t go in the water, this was ok by me, with many meetings at the pool, eventually we started holding hands under the water while we talked, we had so much in common, the meetings lasted with-out her Family knowing for sometime, as she was over protected from her father, he was the Manager of the Airport, me being a commoner with a beard well the two didn’t mix, also I’m not of his religion but that didn’t worry Maureen, we would visit the local radio station friends of her, she took me to the Yacht Club where she a member and sailed a ”Heron, they snubbed me like I was a leper, I didn’t feel welcome, but she hung out with me, I would go to her catholic Church but I was uncomfortable, as I had never been to a church in my life. I loved that girl and I believe her family were becoming aware of our frequent meetings, we never had sex but this was always on my mind, Eventually the Father sent her back to Hobart Tasmania to marry a male she must have been going with before they moved to Cairns. I asked her to run away with me but she declined as her father would have disowned her, this worried her very much, in my eyes he was a real Prick as I believe he destroyed two people’s lives, I never stopped loving her, and I believe she felt the same about me. I met up with her again in 1968, I had married and went to Tasmania shearing my Wife came with me, we lived in a caravan, going to Hobart I found Maureen by calling many Dwyer’s, an Aunty of hers told me to go to this block of Units, this I did and knocked on every door, eventually some Male answered the door, I said is Maureen Dwyer here he said no there is no Maureen Dwyer here, because she was married to him and had his name, then a sweet voice called out Ian!! It was Maureen she recognized my voice, I felt I still loved her, she said they are going to a party and invited me, but he called her aside and squashed that, Maureen has never left my thoughts, maybe just as well I didn’t go to that party, I believe she would have left him, and I was in Tasmania with my Wife and a small baby, that was the last time I saw Maureen. If you read this Maureen don’t feel sad just remember the good times you have had in your life, yes I feel sad but life must go on.

 My Life was in Danger - I lived to tell this story

 When the wet season started, I was laid off as most of the casual workers were, I hung around Cairns looking for other work but it wasn’t to be. Staying in a Guest House room with a Share kitchen, wasn’t my most likable situation to be in, I met this Jerk there I didn’t know at the time my life was to take a dangerous road and was about to change dramatically. I knew him as Harry Burt, later I found out his real name to be Henry Jonn Burt, it started with me looking in the local paper for a job, and one was advertised near Bowen on the “Roylan Cruises” for a deckhand, sometimes I’d go to the hotel and have a beer with this jerk HB I told him about this job I was going to apply for, he said to me he knew these people “Roylan Cruises” and would put a word in for me, so I waited for a few days and nothing eventuated, he said he would contact them again so he told me, then he came to me with a story they wanted a deposit 20 pounds and I had the job, and they would let me know when to go there, a few more days passed, and me getting anceous I asked him to get in touch with them again when i should go to Bowen, he comes back to me and says the deposit was not enough and they wanted more money, me being gullable and trusting people those days i gave him some more money, I found out later this was a big Con on his part, read on, then he comes to me and says he also had a job with them as a Skipper a couple of years before. Eventially he tells me we both have a job and to go there, so we head off in my car, on the trip it was hot no air condition, there were small pools of water on the side of the road as we drove, I was a fast driver and as we sped past them I’d say the next one. This went on all the way as I don’t like turning back, eventually we arrived at Townsville, he said he knew the town and as it was late, suggested we camp in the Station wagon, he guided me to the Warf it was empty of ships or people dark and creepy, I Parked the Car at the back of the sheds with his directions. He said he would ok to sleep on the front seat, as I had a mattress in the back, I was laying there and almost asleep, he was shuffling around in the front and woke me, something told me to put my head towards the back of the car with my feet facing the front. Lucky for me I did this, the reason I will explain later, the next day we drove around Townsville had breakfast and headed on our way to Bowen. Arriving at Bowan we went to the Hotel and had a beer, I was Stuffed as I drove all the way and it was stinking hot. Tired I decided to go to the room to have a sleep we shared a room two single beds, his suggestion, I thought nothing of this, when I worked in the Shearing industry this is how we lived, in shared rooms so it was normal for me to share a room, when I dosed off I was lying on top of my bed in my underpants, he was having a shave, that was the last thing I remember, the next thing my head was exploding, it felt like it was exploding from within, what was actually happening he was bashing me with a large Coke bottle, they said he came downstairs and bought it after I had gone to my room, this all came out in the court case, I can remember vaguely wrestling with him, but I didn’t know it was him at the time, I must have gone in and out of continues, I can remember him saying my neck might be broken and I must lay very still, then I had another explosion in my head, I started to call out, he was talking to me, he said some one tried to kill me, I half believed him, and said I thought it was you, and I remember saying he could not kill me, and he agreed with me as he must have tried, he said someone had bashed me up, and the Doctor was outside, I was so confused and I remember saying to him I thought it was you as I regained my senses a little, he said no it was someone who came into the room, he said he would go and get the Doctor he was outside and I must lye very still, I did this and waited for the Doctor, half believing him as I was very confused. The Doctor never came it seemed like hours, then I started to call out, the Publicans Daughter Royle Luca came into the room, and she was horrified, apparently I was lying on a pillow covered in blood, she yelled out my goodness, and went for a Doctor , Terry Ferguson the local detective came, I remember vaguely them helping me into an Ambulance, they kept me in Hospital and it was two weeks before I could just see out of one eye. My head I could not recognize it, black and blue, swollen like a pumpkin. He the prick Harry Burt was picked up, driving my car South the Police arrived at a bridge just ten minutes before he arrived, north of Mackay and he almost talked his way out of it as the police didn’t have all the information, but they took him in for further questioning, and the truth came out. On recovering a little and having to check out of Hospital, Terry Ferguson arranged for me to stay at this Returned Servicemen Resort, big blocks of units with social facilities, it was funded by someone who left his station to this cause and all the profits were used to run this RSR
Harry Burt was left to sweat it out in a Cell, mosquitoes eating him alive,  waiting for me to recover and have a Court case.
Royle's invited me to sleep with her one night,with two Siamees Cat crawling all over us, but it was worth it, she had loan me her car and it happened when i returned it, she was a Darling, i think she felt sorry for me as i wasn't a pretty site.
To be continue..........

This made me laugh

Working on a neighbour farm

At the age of fourteen, living at Perilup on my Stepfathers (Pop) Land settlement Farm, Perilup is not a town, just an area, originaly a telephone exchange and a center on a farm two miles down the road where surrounding farmers collected mail and made phone calls, we began living at Perilup in tents waiting for homes and farms to be alocated to the returned War Service Men, the future farmers would work on the farms building fences and general farm duties.
  My Mother Pop and us kids had moved onto a farm allotted to us, and about a year later our neibour moved onto a private farm he bought about a mile down the road from us, this farmer Im about to tell you about drove from the Eastern states with a Caravan he built himself, he was a young farmer I believe he was new to the land, he offered me a job as a tractor driver because he saw me driving a tractor from our Farm, plowing firebreaks around his farm when a Fire was out of control in the area, I was also plowing fire breaks around other neibours farms.


I started working for him plowing all day until the sun went down, me just fourteen years old, this particular evening I had unhitched the plow from the tractor and driving it across the padock to go back to his homestead, where the tractor was parked all night in a shed and filled with diesel ready for the next day, this particular day driving the tractor across the paddock after I had been plowing all day, a big mally root got caught under the tractor well one jacked it up, and one of the large back wheels was air born, I had no hope of getting it off the mally root, (mally roots are big bulkey roots left in the ground after the mally trees are knocked down by draging a large log over the ground,) it was getting  on dusk and I should have had the tractor back at the Homestead well before now, about 7pm the Boss farmer came looking for me in his truck, he had already eaten Showered and dressed in fancy cloths and Japanese Slippers, never seen by me before on a farm, well it was funny enough just seeing him dressed like that, but the real humour started when he was walking around the tractor not knowing what to do  the ground was soft in places from the rain, then all of a sudden his foot sunk up to his knee in the soft ground, and he lost one of his pretty japanese slippers, to me it looked so funny I laughed and could'nt stop laughing, my belly hurt with laughter, he was furious, and could not see the funny side as I did, he didnt talk to me on the driving back to the homestead.

Another day I was driving the same tractor and one of those mally roots dragged across the large tyre and broke the teet pertruding from the wheel and the water started spreying out, as the big tyres are always filled with water to give them weight and tracksion, I quickly unhitched the tracktor from the plow and headed to the homesteat before it went flat, this Farmer was upset with and made me change the large tyre by myself, it was yous to changing tyres as I was taught by my Step Father but it was a little difficult by my self, I did not keep working for that farmer for long after that as I was offered a job on a shearing team.
 Copyright (c)

Train almost run over me


A Train almost run over me
China English Corner

Going North and Sleeping on Rail Line.

I was invited to join a shearing Contractor Harry Finlay's he had two teams to shear the large number of sheep on many Stations in the Murchason and Gascoin, I woud have to live on the station in the shearers quarters and be away for several Months to work up north of Western Australia.
The trip north on the back of a five ton truck usually to the Murchison left from the Ozone Hotel, it doesn't exist today, All the Men (shearers) and shed hands would turn up with their swags and kit bags blankets and what ever gear we would need for several months up north, it was early days for me so I wasn't experienced as to what gear to take, most of the shearers had been north many times and were organized, from this time on I learn't a lot about working with hardened men who were able to rough it and living under basic conditions, when the Shearing Contractor Harry Finlay arrived at the Ozone Hotel, the shearers and shed hands were waiting, there wives usually drope'd them off, Harry's truck was not all that big, there were a couple of bench seats fixed across the center, and the gear would be packed around them, we would be sitting on the truck for about twelve hours, it was a cold trip on the truck with the wind blowing around our ears and legs, we drove all day except for a few stops, the men calling call out pisso as there bladders were full, they would be drinking beer most of the way, when the large bottles were empty they would throw them off the truck and try to hit a tree or post.
Before the sun went down Harry stopt the truck at a likely camping spot, he had cold roast lamb and bread for all of us, a fire was lit to boiled the tea billy, At this camping spot I nearly finished my life, all the other shearers took off and rolled out there swags and found a place to sleep, as this was my first trip north and away from home, I wasn't prepared, all I had was a couple of blankets, because the ground was red dirt and dusty I couldn't find any were to sleep, one of the shearers talking about the Rail Line running close to the road where we were camping, and some one called out sleep on the train line its not being used and no trains run on it, so I did just that, I was lying on the line for about half hour, then something gave me a bad feeling so I decided to put my blankets next to the line just a fiew feet off, I woke up in the middle of the night, startled to see a very bright light coming towards me, as I was in a daze half asleep, I sat up and the train sped past me, that was the most traumatic experience I have had in my life as for a split second I thought I was still on the Train line.

Going up north for the first time was the most exciting experiences I had endured at this time of my life, I was in a shearing team down South, with a Shearing Contracter, named Eric Donaldson nick name Curlie because he didn’t have much hair, when Eric finished shearing in the South West of W.A. south of Perth, Harry Findlay would take Eric’s Shearer’s and go North to the Murchison and Gascoyne, he had two teams No.1 being his selected best shearers (Gun Shearers) and team No.2 not as fast, or maybe one team drank more Beer and wine than the other, I was fortunate to get selected to his No.1 team, Some of the shearer’s, as I can remember them, Eric Dickerson, Cecil Dickerson, Abey Wilton, Albie Philips Jnr, Eddy Woods, Roy Fisher, and Jim Griffin, I learn't to shear in a short period of time, first working as a junior Shed hands (rousabouts) as they would call us, me just fifteen years I would finished shearing  the last sheep after the bells was rung, Shearers would shear four two hour run’s (shearing for two hours), I would always watch the Shearer I considered the best, cleanest and fastest with the best style as I was keen to learn, and take his advice, other rousie's who were learn to shear would also finish shearing the last sheep after the bell, some times a couple of Rousies would finish shearing a sheep together and race each other, Harry Finlay caught us doing this, and banned us from Shearing for some time, Harry’s motto was to learn to shear slowly and speed came naturally, Harry would know this better than most as he was a Gun Shearer in his day, one of the best shearers in W.A., maybe from all Australia, I heard he was one of a team of eight shearer’s called the Mad Eight some time around 1930, they shore large numbers of sheep in one day to give them this title, Harry was about 65 at the time I was lucky enough to be on his team, one shed I remember we were short on shearers, and he shore on one of the stands for one hour every run, a run is two hours, I saw him shear 30 sheep for the hour and I had never seen him shear before, not a bad effort for a retired shearer aged 65. Some of the Stations on our shearing run Bidgemire, Wedarra, Yinnatharra, Mooloo Downs, Ningham, and Three Rivers Station.
Three Rivers Station was a good experience, this was the first time I came in touch with treal Aboriginals, Black Fella's as they called them at the time, I was talking to them as if they were from a lost tribe, then one of the shearer’s said to me they are able to talk to you like every one else, this was my first trip to Three Rivers Station, I was on the back of the truck going north from Meekathara we took the wrong road they only realized this after driving about 50 miles, on the wrong road, the reason was they had a heavy rainy season, the grass was as tall as the tray of the truck, this trip for me was a great experience.

Crossing the Nulabor


The very first time I crossed the Nullahbor was with my Step Father Jim we called him Pop my Mother and five kids, I was 9 years old, Pop bought a second hand 1939 Vauxhal in Adelaide, it had running boards on the side and Pop fixed this rail, (concertina gate) onto the running boards, and we couldn’t open the doors and had to climb out the windows, as cases were stacked between them and the doors, there was also a roof rack packed with cases and gear, we were two weeks on the road, imagine five kids and luggage crammed into a small car.I don't remember the whole trip, apart from a few memory's about particular events. Eucla was one of them, it was when Eucla was down on the breakaway closer to the coast, now it has been relocated up on top of the breakaways, Eucla was the original telephone base from the early explorers, the sand dunes were like silk, pop took us to the waters edge through the dunes, i lost site of him and thought i was lost, we slept in a big Hall, and the sand was right up to the wall of this hall, i remember hearing someone say it would be covered with sand in a very short time, it was also suppose to be haunted.also another memorable place was the Nullahbor Homestead, we could see this home and sheds in the distance, as we must have needed fuel being such a long way from any town , gas stations were not heard of on the Nullahbor, fuel came in 44 gallon drums, we drove into the homestead and they made us very welcome invited us inside ,we all sat around the large table and ate a hearty meal, i believe times have changed, what you will see on gates today is a sign Keep Out, private property. since this crossing i have driven overland nine times.

My first experience of driving overland was the most difficult and tense, I had a mate with me, Barry Taylor we both lived in Medina WA we met at the front of a local shop after it had closed for the day,  Barry was the sort of young bloke who could make friends with the young kids and those about our age in Medina, he was a bit of a leader full of confidence, I had a FJ Holden at this time, I decided to go east and somehow Barry decided to go with me and share expenses, we planned to work our way around the Eastern States, firststopping off in Adelaide and later going on to Melbourne, then on to Sydney, before we left he asked me if another mate of his Sidney Kaporn could come with us, so it looked like being a exciting trip, and it was a real experience. after leaving Norseman a sign post said this is the last reliable water supply for 600 miles, The road from Norseman to Port Augusta was unsealed and it was a hell road full of potholes, bull-dust and corrugation’s, Wombats and kangaroos were dead on the side of the road and  hundreds of rabbits crossing our path. The trip was very tens for me as it was my car, and I felt when Barry or Syd were driving they didn’t avoid the potholes and couldn’t drive as well or take the same care as I did. My Brother Laurie was in Adelaide when we arrived, he found us a place to stay two rooms in an old boarding house, Barry tossed a coin, heads or tails to choose in what room we would sleep, and i scored a single room, this was the finish of our adventure, i believe it was meant to be this way, a good reason, Sid and Barry decided to go on to Melbourne the next day, this wasn’t our plan as we were going to work in Adelaide first then decide where we would go at a later date, I lost touch with Barry but caught up with him at a later date, he was living with his Uncle, I was shearing around Geelong so I  looked him up one week end, he said Syd didn’t stay very long and went back to Perth, soon after arriving in Melbourne, Later I was pleased I had split with Barry as I realized it was better to travel alone, you don’t have to answer to other people or plan your life around there needs, I also decided to go back Shearing,                   

Every time I drove across the Nullahbore was a unique experience, nine times in all, this particular trip in my F.J. Holden my pride and joy. The Nullahbor had several gates, and they had to be opened and closed so as to stop the livestock from going through, one of the gates I stopped to open, and at the same time another vehicle stopped on the other side I was driving East and he was driving West, the other driver wasn’t getting out to open the gate so I decided it was going to be me, on opening the gate the other driver with ACT plates drove through, as he did he said to me, I’m from Canberra, I thought to my self and you can get stuffed mate you cheeky prick.
Another one of these trip’s my Brother Laurie and his wife were with me, I was driving my E.J. Holden station wagon, and we broke a u-bolt on the back spring, a truck pulled up to see if he could lend us a hand, and he offered us a toe to Norseman we were about 100 miles East, the holden was an automatic so I had to take the tail shaft off, and we only had a short length of rope about 8 foot long, the road was unsealed and red dirt, you can imagine being toed so close to the back of the truck at about 40 miles an hour, the red bull-dust being  thrown up onto my car it was so thick, I couldn’t see more than a few feet, and I could just see the back of the truck, My eyes were fixed on the back of the truck, it was so tense and I had to brake instantly when his stop lights came on, as he braked in front of me, the road was full of potholes, my arms were tired and I couldn’t move my body I was stuffed, my brother and me decided he should give me a break and take over but we were still being toed, some  how we changed seats and Laurie took over the driving,

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Lobster Fishing at Beachport with Tony Campbell

Going back to Millicent South Australia, my base when i wasn't  shearing,  this  particular time I returning from Cairns  North Queensland on my way to Perth Western Australiai, an earlier  posting i wrote about my leaving Cairns and returning to Perth. 
Millicent is where my Brother Laurie lived, he was a Plasterer and Tiler, we were good mates  as Brother’s should be. I would some-times help him as a Labourer when there was no shearing i enjoyed working with him, he was my hero, as a young man he was a boxer and held the tital as Welter weight Champion of W.A. 
Laurie said Tony Campbell was looking for a deckhand on his Cray Boat the "Henty",  and would I like to talk with him about the job, this I did and Tony accepted me as his Deck-hand. Before the season started the Cray Pots had to be made, there were already some left over from the previous season that had to be repaired,  ropes had to be cut to length and spliced, floats had to be spliced onto the Ropes, this I found interesting, we also had to do some work on the Boat i did this without payment, that was ok by me as I was learning something new.
Tony was a Tough man, I always said since working with him he was born 200 years too late, his  wife Pamela was the most gorgeous  Lady you could meet,  I could have run away with her under difference circumstances, but Tony would have killed me.
Pamela was never very far away,  Some- times Tony would be away for a few days and Pamela and myself would be working together ,splicing ropes, and preparing for the season, I don’t remember exactly as she was more interesting than splicing ropes, Pamela was  a honey and I was often tempted to race her off to the bedroom, but my better judgment told me behave, i even grew a beard and looked scruffy so she wouldent get too interested, i had a feeling there were vibes between us, Tony was very tough on her, her Son was never too far away, Tony Campbell was a champion Boxer in his younger days, Golden Gloves Champion,  and the toughest man I have ever known. i dident intend being his next victim.
Tony’s Cray fishing Licence was registered for about sixty Cray Pots , they were made from steel rods, very heavy, unlike the Western Australian Pots made from Cane.
The Cray season finally began 1965, Tony’s  Cray Boat the “Henty “ was only 30 foot long, a wooden  pot belly Boat, one of the smallest in Beachport  on the South coast of South Australia. Tony arranged for me to register with "Safcol"  this is where the Lobsters would be processed, and I received a percentage of the catch.
Had someone told me what to expect  I would never have believed them,  I was able to share a shack (house) with another Deck Hand from another Boat, a crappy room with a crappy  mattress  no modern cons. The first day out on the boat was a stressful experience as I had never worked on a Cray Boat or had any experience on any Boat, and especially with a Man like Tony. The bait was in a cold store room, i had to prepare it the night before, cut it up in small chunks depending on the type of bait, early in the morning i had to put it in a trolly and pushed this out to the jetty, loaded it onto a Dingy, and rowed out to the Boat on the  mooring. The mornings being cold and the wind whistling around your ears made it a miserable job. 
This year was the worst season they have had for  fifteen years where bad weather was concerned.  I would wake up at 4am and could hear the roar of the surf and dread haveing to go out to sea in a small Boat, there was not many days we didn't go out to pull and bait the pots, the southern ocean is treacherous, we could never predict what the day would bring, most days the ocean was choppy , other days it would have big rolls our boat would disappear in the trough, then there were  days where the ocean would be like a sheet of glass. and you could see the shark fins swimming around the boat, these calm days were not very often, one day a rope got around the propeller, it had melted onto the prop with the friction heat, i volunteered to go over and cut it off, unbeknown to me at the time there were so many sharks.
One morning the wind had been blowing all night and the Ocean was building up a surge, the waves were breaking at the enterance to the Beachport bay an excellent Shelter from the Ocean, all the boats had turned back as the waves were too big, we headed out to the breakers, Tony was in the cabin stearing the boat with the motor just idaling slowly we moved closer to the breakers for about ten minuts, Ii didnt believe he would attempt to go out , but he was counting the time between the waves breaking,  suddenly he reved the motor and headed towards the breakers, we plowed through the surf and just made it through as a wave broke behind us, we were out past the breakers and heading out to sea, to pull our pots, the only boat out that day from Beachport.  Tony would some times pull other pots belonging to other cray fishermen, because we had a small slow boat we were nealy aleays the fiest to leave, and the last to return, this day we could not get back into the bay as the breakers had built up too big, we stayed out all night with little food and no blankets, except for this heavy cotton matting  from the Apsel Paper Mill, Tony had dropt the Ancker and we were bedded down for a rough night sleeping in the bildge, in the middle of the night we were woken up with the noise of a ships propellers, Tony went outside and then yelled to me to get up on deck, the Ship was bearing down on us, the Mast light was dead center between the  port and starboard lights, this told us one thing it was going to run us over, Tony started  the Motor as i pulled up the ancker, not an easy task under the conditions, we had about five minuts to spare. The ship was what they called a Iron Ship and passed us with only meters to spare, then Tony motored the boat closer to shore, this was also dangerous because in the dark we dident know if there were reefs, we could only guess where we were, how we survived that night was a miracal.
Another time we were out and heading home Tony saw all this drift wood the Ships had thrown overboard, he started pulling them onto the Boat as i steered with the motor just ticking over, then the rail broke and he fell in, with his wet weather gear and wearing rubber  boots, i reved the engine and came round to pick him up, reaching out to grabed his hand, luckily there was still some rail on the rear of the boat, and he was able to grab the bottom of the rail, getting him on board was not an easy task, good he was strong and tough.
Tony was always on my back and agressive towards me especially if i missed the float, i would have to lean over the boat rail and hook the float or rope floating in the ocean while Tony steered the boat, if i missed it he would have to go round and have another go,  it wasnt always easy because of the bad weather, the winch would not  work normally and the rope would slipp, i would have to hold the rope and keep the tension on while it was winching up the pots, the rope would slip if the pot got cought on a reef or the current was too strong the tention on the rope was at breaking point, it would slip through the winch  and wizz back into the ocean, the coiled rope on deck was a danger if my foot got  caught in it i would have been taken overboard with the pot,   that year three people drowned on the South Coast, ad one man died by being draged overboard.
 One day i told Tony to get off my fucking back, and he did, i believe he respected me for  saveing his life,  he wasn't liked by most of the other fishermen, some said i should have left him there to drown, it got back to me he could drown himself so long as he didnt drown me, He quite often got into a fight with the Hartley Brothers, they were also cray fishing,  he would take them both on, being the tough Man he was most men would avoid him.
The Boat broke down near the end of the season , Tony had to go to Adelaide to get a part for the Motor, i suggested i go with him, i did this so he would came back to Beachport to finish the season, in  Adelaide he took me to a licenced restaurant he drank about four bottles of some kind of wine, i didn't drink much, Tony was yodelling and had his elastic sided Riding boots  on the table, this  reataurant had a floor above and a balcony overlooking the bottom floore, Tony said to me see that balcony, i through a man over that balcony. Two police came into the restaurant the  owner must have called them, as he knew Tony from the previous  time, Tony saw them and sauntered up to the counter and  was talking with them, i could see he was going to flatten thies two policemen. so i walked up to the cops and said he was with me,  i said to Tony lets go Tony, and the Cops  said  get him home or we will arrest him. i grabed Tonys arm and said lets go Tony, he followed me out like i could not believe , knowing Tony, this would never happen had it been onother  person, i believe it was because i saved his life.  good i saved his life or some one would have had to save mine that night ha ha .but i also admired the Man and respected him as he was a real man, not like some men i have met though my life.
I remember an instance before i new Tony very well before i started working with him, we were in a Hotel in Millicent, Tony was at the bar he had been drinking, i saw him eyeing off these four men sitting at a table haveing lunch together, they were Bank Managers, i could see Tony glaring at them, then he started abusing them repeatedly, none of these Bank managers were game to move or say anything knowing Tony, he applied for a loan and they  knocked him back. Tony was  educated and a very smart, he owned a Realestate business when i first knew about  him, he was concidered to be untouchable. another story he was in melbourne and got bashed by six Coppers, he flew back to Millicent, the doctor said he should have gone to intensive care in melbourne, any other Man would have died.
We met up again in Western Australia, after i had started my Business New Westline Mail Order Co. he phoned me from up North, as he was on a Station and wanted a Metal detector to prospect for gold, as i sold them through my business "Westline", later  we met in a Hotel in Perth, he was still wearing his elastic side boots and a ten gallon hat, he was just as tough as when i new him in Millicent, i was told Pamela won Lotto, she bought him A Station up North of Western Australia, i believe she Divorced him and is now living in Adelaide. Tony is now deceased