The Barmedman Hotel, quenching your thirst in the Australian Bush…
And strewth, how good is that verandah on the pub? You could blame your “wobbly boot” on its crooked shape! 😉
Photo: Baz – The Landy
Photo: Baz – The Landy
Steamboats plied their trade along the river as far north as Bourke, carrying supplies to the towns that dotted the Darling, transporting wool bales back to the cities on the return trip. Of course, drought, of which there were many, could see the boats stranded for long periods of time.
This land attracted many writers, inspired by the wide open spaces of the Australian Outback, and included Henry Lawson, whom I wrote about recently, and Banjo Paterson.
They are two of my favourite Australian writers.
Simply, their writings are timeless, despite both passing long-ago, you can sit by a billabong or a river and hear the echo of the men, and women, they wrote about, the friendly banter, the sorrow, the laughs, the tears, the highs and the lows.
Both men travelled extensively in some of my favourite parts of the Australian Outback.
One such place is the Barcoo River, nearby to the town of Jundah and the Welford National Park in far western-Queensland. A small town of not too many people, where the pub, owned and operated by Monica, is the go to place to hear news, a social epicentre for the area.
Lawson and Paterson, parched from travelling the dusty land, would have quenched their thirst at establishments just like the Jundah Pub!
Banjo Paterson was especially inspired by the Barcoo and surrounding area.
We travelled to this area to visit the site of Maggee’s Shanty and Richard Magoffin’s Grave which were not too far from Jundah and the Welford National Park. Those familiar with the writing’s of Banjo Paterson will recognise this is the place immortalised in his poem A Bush Christening.
The grave of Richard Magoffin, who perished in 1885, is nearby.
Magoffin came to Australia from County Down in Ireland in 1853, digging for gold in Victoria and fighting at Eureka. Later he settled with a brother at Chiltern, Victoria, before moving to Bourke, where they sank dams and ran a carting business before tough times sent them further north, to Queensland.
There was very little to see of Maggee’s Shanty, although a plaque indicated its site, but Magoffin’s Grave was very well kept.
And under darkened skies, with the threat of rain present, we huddled together at the site of Maggee’s Shanty, and read…
The Bush Christening – By AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson
On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross’d ‘cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.
Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened,
And his wife used to cry, “If the darlin’ should die
Saint Peter would not recognise him.”
But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.
Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
With his ear to the keyhole was listenin’,
And he muttered in fright while his features turned white,
“What the divil and all is this christenin’?”
He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
And it seemed to his small understanding,
If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
It must mean something very like branding.
So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
While the tears in his eyelids they glistened-
“‘Tis outrageous,” says he, “to brand youngsters like me,
I’ll be dashed if I’ll stop to be christened!”
Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
And his father with language uncivil,
Never heeding the “praste” cried aloud in his haste,
“Come out and be christened, you divil!”
But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
And his parents in vain might reprove him,
Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
“I’ve a notion,” says he, “that’ll move him.”
“Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
Poke him aisy-don’t hurt him or maim him,
‘Tis not long that he’ll stand, I’ve the water at hand,
As he rushes out this end I’ll name him.
“Here he comes, and for shame! ye’ve forgotten the name-
Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?”
Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout-
“Take your chance, anyhow, wid ‘Maginnis’!”
As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
That was labelled “Maginnis’s Whisky!”
And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
And the one thing he hates more than sin is
To be asked by the folk who have heard of the joke,
How he came to be christened “Maginnis”!
The Bulletin, 16 December 1893.
As a footnote, the heavens opened up as we walked back to the vehicle bringing much needed rain to the area, but turning the roads into a slippery brown sludge.
The Landy, with Tvan in tow, arrived in Quilpie a few hours later covered in mud!
Such is life, but what a great day with my two favourite people…
Alright, grab a beer or a wine if you like, but hurry back, and don’t go wasting your time googling how many States America has, it isn’t that important.
So picking back up, having an unbiased view, of course, there is one State that shines above all, Queensland, the Sunshine State.
Yep, we’ve got the barrier reef full of colourful fish…
You remember Nemo don’t you?
Of course you do, a couple of fish that talk, a few turtles swimming down the East Australia Current, and who could forget Dory, and that great quote of hers?
“Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?”
Rainforests that roll from the mountains to the reef…
You’re looking for pictures aren’t you?
Well, I’m teasing you, you’ll have to come on over and snap a few for yourself.
Here, I’ll toss you a bone…
Anyway, we’ve got the warmest people that you could ever meet and whose each and every sentence ends with, hey.
I’m still talking about Queensland, just to be sure…
And hey, don’t get me wrong, the rest of Australia is pretty darn good mind you, just not as good.
Crikey, you know what I’m trying to say…the place is bloody perfect!
Weather to die for!
I mean, 364-days of sunshine a year…doesn’t get much better than that, hey!
Okay okay, yes you’ve called me on this one so maybe not quite 364-days.
But let’s face it, if you’re a pommie, you know, English, those blokes that flogged us at Rugby about a week or so ago banished us from England on convict ships all those years ago, anything more than 5-days of sunshine a year would be a bonus.
If only they knew at the time, strewth, we’d be overrun with those Lion supporters running around in red shirts looking for a “warm beer”.
Yes, Queensland, we’re they’ll call you mate, and mean it…and where the beer is ice-cold.
Now, it might come as little surprise that both Janet and I were both born in Queensland, and to be more precise I grew up in the North. North Queensland that is, and Janet has roots deeply set in the same region.
And TomO, well he is an honorary member…
Crikey, how did that happen…I mean, he’s a Cockroach.
Oh yeah, sorry, meant to say, Queenslanders’ are often referred to as “Cane toads” and New South Welshmen as “Cockroaches”.
So by now you’re probably wondering, what is the point of all this, hey?
Has Baz lost his marbles?
Bumped his head?
Is he a sandwich short of a picnic?
Um, Janet and TomO are nodding yes to all three!
So I’ll just try and make my point…hey.
Strewth, there is none really!
So how about this, pop on over to this great place, you know, our sunburnt country and I’ll buy you a beer at one of our favourite watering holes.
Yeah, up at the Einasleigh Hotel up in the Gulf Savannah, hey.
How’s that for a pub…!
Give us a bell so we can get the beers on ice and just ask for Baz, hey!
Photos: Baz, The Landy