Tuesday, September 4, 2018

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.

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