Thursday, August 22, 2013

A real change of direction

My dear Publisher ... I say dear as I have spoken to her husband, John, who cannot put his credit cards back in his pocket until the plastic cools down, that kind of dear ... but I  digress, which is rare for me, but it is done, the digression, that is; so I will get back on track ...  My dear Publisher, who I was friends with before she read this, asked me to write a story for teenagers.

Ha! I said, Ha! Said I, me ... teenagers ... write ... story ... etc ... Well mates and matesses, I cannot even get the same grunt tone that exists in the modern teenager's vocabluary, I use vocalbury very loosely!

However, being very intimidated by the 'one who must be obeyed' I put myself to the task of doin' as I wuz told, without hearing the "Or else".

So, in a cupla'  months, you should be able to get Bogan's Heroes, which is most suitable to kids, and the old fuddy duddies that cant stand a bit of kissin' and stuff.

I enjoyed the exercise, it gave me a differnet approach on life.  It is not placed in the Outback ... Hang on, it is in a sort of sense, as a matter of fact the sense is that it is that far Outback that it has returned to be in front, ifn'ya' know wot I mean.

So, keep your peepers glued to the pages. No. No. Not your nose, that is harmful, Look at me! Sniff.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Top dog

Yep, it's official. Old Pete Rake is top dog. See the screenshot below? That shows 'The Outback Story - The Loves and Adventures of 'Tiger' Williams' sitting pretty at #1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Drama > Australian & Oceanian on Amazon.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Red Steer

Of all the devastating and frightening occurrences of the Outback, the worst would be the fire. Even on the plains, the “Red Steer” rampages across the land with no favour. It can jump fire breaks, water courses, main roads and any other barrier put in its way.

In full fury, the grass fires create their own wind. It rises in swirls of fierce heat that sends embers floating on to areas that were thought protected.

Fire, one of the greatest discoveries by man, can and will turn on him in a frenzy of destruction causing death, to stock and humans alike, to fences, homes, or any combustible matter that is in its path. Fire has no conscience.

In the coastal Tee Tree areas I have seen the blue haze of gas build up ahead of a fire, and then the tops of these trees just explode some hundred meters ahead of the flame.

Floods and drought are at natures whim but fires can, and sometimes are, in the hands of some arsonist, who after the death count is taken into consideration, in the more urban areas of cities, should be charged with murder with a lethal weapon, one single flick of a cigarette out the window of a moving vehicle. One flick of a cigarette lighter or match. And that is the usual emotional thoughts of those that have been the victim of a rampaging fire.

The grass fire of the plains country is, most times, easier to control if it is caught in time, or if properties had carried out fire prevention methods before the fire season arrived. The fire season is usually after good rains, strong grass growth and a hot dry summer has filled the earth with tussocks of grass and leafed up the few trees and scrubs. It is these times that one looks to the sky for the thunder storm, lightening being one arsonist that cannot be caught.

Glass is another fire lighter, the careless bottle or container left around yards, and along side roads, acts as a hot house underneath where it lays, when the time is right it will cause ignition and the “Red Steer” runs again.

Fire breaks are an expense but it was, in my time, only an expense calculated against what the expense was in losses. If it was felt that losing one or two paddocks to fire was not a big problem, then little or no fire prevention or protection took place.

One property where I worked, they had experienced a fire that ran for two weeks, and covered an eighty-mile front at one stage, this was out from Aramac in Queensland. The next year prevention or protection was applied vigorously.

The fire break, in the plains country, if given the full treatment, consists of two tracks around the fence line in a paddock. The tracks had the scarifier plough dragged over them maybe twice. The tracks would then be dragged with metal wagon tyres, tied together and weighted down with logs, or forty-four gallon drums with Gidgee stones in them.

The cleared tracks, which would be about eight feet apart have an strip of grass between them, which is burnt off if fire is threatening. There is no point in burning good grass when unnecessary.
This allows a twenty-four foot fire break from which to back burn from, in the face of an oncoming fire; however with the unpredictable wind created by the fire, even these fire breaks can be jumped by the grass fires.

Man has little control over floods, rain, or drought. He cannot even predict the heat of summer to come, but fires, being a tool of man is often used foolishly.

Sheep will run around in a circle if they are frightened, and fires frightens all beasts. If these poor dumb animals cannot escape, they will run into the fire and perish.

There are stories of men and women being off fighting fires on a neighbours property only the hear that their own home has been burnt to the ground.

Of all the harshness of the Outback, the “Red Steer” is the worst. In times gone by it was used as a threat by some disgruntled traveller or station worker, who would rattle a box of matches in the face of the one he was threatening. No word had to be said, the threat was well indicated.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Up close and personal with Pete

The Outback Story - The Loves and Adventures of 'Tiger' Williams has been hovering in the top 10 eBooks on Amazon in the Books > Literature & Fiction > Drama > Australian & Oceanian list, sliding up and down between spot 3 and 8 for the last month. Author Peter Rake has obviously done something right for his first novel to be doing so well. Perhaps this interview by Sylv Jenkins will shed some light on why Peter wrote the novel and how he went about it.

A really Nice Bloke

Because of the floods, just after the bush fires, and the shearers strike, and me' old truck breaking down, I was holed up in a little town on the outskirts of the Barcoo River.

The fires were put out by the floods and the floods had gone down ,the sandflies had all gone somewhere else and a bloke fixed me' truck, but I rather liked the place, so I stayed for a bit.

There wern't much to do during the day, and less during the night, but ifn ya' want a quiet holiday, this place is the place to place yer sef.

One thing that did keep the local population a bit on their toes, was the mass of killings. They called them serial killings, which I think this was because every time a serial come on the radio, there would be more killings.

In a small place like this, there weren't much selection in who was doing the doings. I was a suspect, but I  didn't think they had enough evidence. I would'a owned up just to break the monotony, but they wouldn't let me. The local Butcher, an expert in dealing with dead flesh, was a dead cert, until the police finally arrived in the place from down in the city somewhere. The word wuz that they couldn't find the place for some time, as the place had not been placed on any map any place.

Well they searched high and low, which is hard to do on the flat black soil plains, but they did search. Eventually they put Old Bill Williams in custody which stuck to his feet until he could hose it orf'.

No one could believe that Old Bill could ever possibly hurt anyone. I won't go so far as to say he wouldn't hurt a fly, 'casue we wuz all guilty of Blowie Homicide in some form or other.

We wuz all sitting on the verandah of the Pub, come Post office, come general sore, come Chinese laundry, come Black Smith, come Baker, come Pool Room Dance hall and Recreation centre and of course the prime suspect the Butcher, who used to sell heaps of his snags until the killings started.

The cops come up and interrupted our general conversations, without so much as one iota of concern for the intellectual discussions wot where taking place, in the place.

"Do any of youse  sheilas and blokes know Bill Williams or his AKA name Old Bill Williams?"

"Jist as well you cleared that up, or none of us would have known who you waz talkin' about."

"Well do ya?"

Mary McGillacudy, the owner of the haberdashery store, wot I forgot to mention, spoke up.

"Old Bill Williams could not have anything to do with these dastardly deeds, and anyway, the deaduns' were only tourists so what's all the fuss about...But not Old Bill, he was a kind hearted bloke, he worked hard, helped people, was always ready to tell a story and help an old lady across the street even tho' there ain't nothing on the 'tuther side of the street, in this place, So I reckon ya' got the wrong bloke, and, as most of the single women in this here place know, was a good bed warmer in the colder moment of winter, but don't say nuffin' about that or every one will want to get some...warmth, that is."

"Anyone else got an opinion?"

"Yeah! Me" I sez. "Ifn' we dont' get rid of this government we will all be broke before too long."

"About the killings..." and the copper mumbled summit that I missed hearing.

"Look," sed the publican, who wuz owed a fair bit of cash at the pub by Old Bill Williams the bloke in question, who wuz being questioned, "Ya' got the wrong bloke, I can tell ya' Old bill was as gentle as a lamb in a good stew...I must admit  that his visitors used to scream and carry on a bit, but apart from that, nuthin', he never disturbed no one."

Friday, August 2, 2013


I have spoken about the trials and tribulations of the Outback. My version of the unbroken horizon in the story Outback Awakening, and  in my blog article Silence is Golden. So I will continue on my impressions of the other encounters in the Outback, encounters that I have faced, along with everyone else in the area at the time.

If I had to define the worst, I would have a hard time selecting the “Red Steer” from the “Brown Death”, admittedly, neither sound very nice, and believe me they ain't.

I will deal with the floods: I was on a property bordering Cooper's Creek, which is one of the biggest water courses in the west.

It had not rained in the local area, which was a bit of a blessing in the fact that the ground was not saturated with rain, making the black soil a sodden, un-trafficable bog hole; however the rising waters stirred up the dreaded sand l flies. Creatures that seem to be able to lay dormant for a long time, to rise as the flood waters rose. They were not your 'biting midge, or the “no-see-em” of the coast, no Sir! These critters were like bush bees with football jumpers on, grey like the mossies with tiger type stripes on their abdomen.

Just through the sheer anxiety of the itch, and the pain of rubbing sore eyes against the bark of the Gidgee trees would kill a horse. The horses would go out on the dry clay pans and walk around and around in circles, head to swishing tail, trying to get some respite from these most miserable of afflictions. Hunger and pain would was not an easy life for a working horse, adn many suffered death, or ill thrift.

We would get fourty-four gallon drums and open up one end, make a fire and put cow manure on top of the flame to bury it to a strong, smouldering smoke. It is not too bad, really, I have smelt pipe tobacco with a greater stench, and the horses would come and stand with their heads in the smoke and stay there until it died down.

We had one little horse on a droving trip one time, that couldn't stand the sand flies any longer. During the night it came to the camp fire and rolled in the ashes, which disturbed the coals beneath,. We had to put the poor beast down because of the massive burns, and the horse's obvious pain .

So, you will stand there watching the brown water rise, and as it rose it would come to the cracks in the clay and trickle down these cracks for up to ten minutes before it rose and went on to the next crack. The cracking was like flag stone, and the cracks were deep.

In the wider channels, the sheep would try to go in to feed, but would find themselves with their leg down a crack and no way to push themselves out. They would die there, or if they didn't they would be too hard to get out once the clay backed hard like cement around the limb or limbs that were down the crack.

If rain was in your area, you were grounded as far as driving, riding or walking anywhere. Mud build up would soon stop a vehicle as the grass and mud made an adobe mixture that dragged the vehicle to a stop as the mixture clogged up to the mudguards. Horses would tire quickly with the same mud and grass build up on their hooves, and the poor bloody human that has to walk was overtaken with exhaustion after an hour struggling along. It made no difference if you took your boots off, the mud was that sticky it would cling to your skin like that stuff that sticks to a blanket.

Floods without rain is really testing, it causes a lot of anguish without much gain for the graziers stock or property. But that's the Outback Hey!!!!!