Showing posts from January, 2015

Overlanders #4: 'Government-men' / 'Bush-rangers'


Government-men / Bush-rangers

For the overlanders operating in the early colonial period for Victoria and South Australia, there was little choice concerning labour. It was 'Government-men' from New South Wales or 'Government-men' from Van Diemen's Land. That is, their potential drovers, stockmen, or shepherds, had to be selected from the existing pool of convicts, ticket of leave men, and ex-convicts. A common description of those employed at the time was 'old lags' -- from the official acronym for Licence of Assigned Government Servants -- a term which covered the range from manacled prisoners to those who had completed their sentences, and all the bureaucratic stages in between.

In their favour was the fact that this 'workforce' was cheap to employ and readily available. In the negative was the fact that they were former criminals and had been many years in the penal system with other criminals. In reality, however, the first overlanders…

Overlanders #3: Hawdon, Hepburn and Gardiner


Hawdon, Hepburn and Gardiner

This post is in two parts. The first part, The Men, is the narrative of their journey from the settled districts of New South Wales ("the Sydney side") with "upwards of three hundred cattle", southwards to the new settlement at Port Phillip Bay. Their trip, made in the last three months of 1836, was the first 'overlanding' of livestock to the Port Phillip District. The second part, The Cattle, extends the story to 1846, when the progeny of this first herd were in turn 'overlanded' to South Australia. The point here is that 'overlanders' were not explorers as such, but speculators. The moving of livestock between colonies was, first and foremost, a commercial exercise. Their purpose was not about learning to be competent 'stockmen' and 'drovers' (although they necessarily had to learn this vital skill, and quickly), but to be successful 'dealers' in a distant market.

1. The Men

Long Poem #4: Dead at Deep Creek

I'm Dead at Deep Creek

Lexington, April twenty-sixth eighteen
forty seven. Or rather, at three
o'clock in the morning, after a day's
severe fatigue shifting a hut for 
the purpose of lambing down a flock
at the sugar loaf hill. I retired

to bed about seven o'clock and 
after having slept about Three hours,
sleep refused any further solace.
I arose at two o'clock, made up 
the fire in the sitting room, and 
to amuse myself have recourse to

the expedient of noting some
trifles for the divertisement of
myself and my children hereafter.
It has often struck me that a note
of passing events might not only
in after times become pages of

valuable reference to myself,
but also contain interest and
instruction for my dearest children.
In fact I lament deeply having
allowed so many years to escape
without any such memorandum.

(I shall not write The Currency Lad,
with convict stain, who ran away to
sea, nor shipwreck in the Philippines,
nor dusky maiden in marriage mine.
It is all lies in any eve…

Long Poem #3: 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came'

'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came'

by Robert Browning
(Men and Women, 1855)

1. What the critics say

Browning's poem has been described as a "nightmare", a "dream narrative", an "impenetrable allegory", and, most usefully perhaps, as a "psychological landscape". Browning himself consistently refused to explain the poem: "Childe Roland came upon me as a dream", he said in 1887, more than thirty years after it was published. "I had to write it, then and there, and I finished it the same day I believe. But it was simply that I had to do it. I did not know then what I meant beyond that, and I'm sure I don't know now." <>

One modern attempt at analysis of Childe Roland notes its stark, relentless, linearity that propels the protagonist (and the reader) towards the Dark Tower. "As in the best horror stories...a naturalist setting and a narrative style allow terror a…