Wind­mill men take a spin in tilt at jobs

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

Mr A. J. Camp­bell, the well known nat­u­ral­ist of Vic­to­ria, writes: “We are to hold the an­nual ses­sion of the Aus­tralian Or­nithol­o­gists Union in Bris­bane dur­ing Oc­to­ber and then visit Whit­sun­day Pas­sage for field work. I shall, I hope, af­ter that event, be able to go fur­ther north. I shall bring my lantern ` Wat­tle Blos­som’ slides and we can have an evening at Townsville on our na­tional flower. Powlathanga Lake, near Char­ters Tow­ers, an al­most per­ma­nent wa­ter, is now dry. The Char­ters Tow­ers sports, who gen­er­ally find good sport at this lake, will re­gret the ab­sence of the ducks. About a fort­night ago, a half caste girl named May Black­man, who has been em­ployed in the house­hold of In­spec­tor Quinn for a num­ber of years past, left the house dur­ing the night and though in­quiries have been made, no trace of her has been found. It is thought prob­a­ble that some­one is har­bour­ing the girl and if so they are ren­der­ing them­selves li­able to a con­sid­er­able penalty un­der the Abo­rig­ines Pro­tec­tion Act. sheep and cat­tle. With these qual­i­fi­ca­tions we left Townsville in high hopes of se­cur­ing em­ploy­ment.

In three months in that city I had only one day’s work, so I de­cided it was time to make a move.

I may as well men­tion here that we in­tended trav­el­ling on push­bikes.

We mapped out a route that would take us through a great num­ber of sta­tions, that de­pend on wind­mills, pump­ing from arte­sian bores and wa­ter­holes to wa­ter their stock.

Tak­ing all things into con­sid­er­a­tion we as­sured our­selves we would find suf­fi­cient work, such as over­haul­ing and re­pair­ing wind­mills, cars and trucks, to keep us in food and the bikes in good re­pair, be­sides hav­ing money in pocket when we ar­rived back.

A sad dis­il­lu­sion awaited us.

[ In the next 10 weeks the men rode 1735 miles ( 2790km) through western Queens­land, each car­ry­ing a 100 pounds ( 45kg) swag.

Their sole job was one day mus­ter­ing sheep for an Ara­mac se­lec­tor, for 10 shillings each and a leg of mut­ton. Their sav­ings ran dry on April 2, in Charleville. Then they sur­vived on char­ity and “po­lice ra­tions” – a six shillings a week or­der for meat, bread and gro­ceries.

Jerry sold a sol­der­ing iron for four shillings to get his de­crepit boots fixed. A swag­man shouted them a meal in Ta­room and a gra­zier at Avon Downs gave them beef, flour and a tin of jam for fix­ing a bro­ken- down Ford. Near­ing home, a driver gave them two shillings for push­ing his car out of a bog near Bowen]

On Tues­day, May 16, at Giru, we packed our bikes for the last time, and pre­pared to get over the 30 miles to Townsville.

Pools of wa­ter lay all along the road and the bikes were al­ready plas­tered with mud.

We were splashed with mud and wa­ter from head to foot

Two dirt­ier raga­muffins I guess it would be hard to find.

Five hours rid­ing brought us to Ste­wart’s Creek and when we hit the as­phalt road I heaved a sigh of re­lief.

That night I was able lo get into de­cent and clean clothes and feel pre­sentable once more.

Many peo­ple helped us on our way and had a kind word for us. Although we landed back broke, as far as money was con­cerned, we were cer­tainly the richer by ex­pe­ri­ence. Townsville Daily Bul­letin, July 18, 1932


An uniden­ti­fied man at the Gar­butt Pad­dock swag­men's camp, Townsville, 1932.

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