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Australian Geographic - - Contents - By Kel Richards

Uran­gan Pier

Aussies some­times like to wal­low in mis­ery. “This drought’ll never end.” “Record floods com­ing, I reckon.” “Looks like an­other bad bush­fire sea­son.” The ex­pres­sion ‘said Han­ra­han’ is from a bush bal­lad and iden­ti­fies a doom-mon­ger.

The bal­lad, called Said Han­ra­han, was writ­ten by bush priest Pa­trick Har­ti­gan (1878–1952) un­der the pen-name of John O’Brien. It tells of cock­ies who gather on Sunday to squat on their heels, chew bark and talk about farm­ing. Han­ra­han is the gloom mer­chant: “‘We’ll all be rooned,’ said Han­ra­han,/ ‘be­fore the year is out.’”

He’s con­vinced dis­as­ter will strike from too lit­tle (or too much) rain at just the wrong time, the river be­ing too high or low, or the sum­mer’s heat – or lack of it. What­ever hap­pens, Han­ra­han is cer­tain, will bring drought, flood, bush­fire, bank­ruptcy and the col­lapse of com­mod­ity prices, or all of the above.To the Han­ra­hans of this world, the glass is al­ways half empty…and rapidly drain­ing away.

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