The photo above shows my oldest boy David roughly 14yrs and Jamie 11-12yrs old and a couple of boars that we used for ding sausages. I remember this day like it was yesterday, we were making sausages not out of the two pigs in the photo, in fact I cannot remember these two boars at all. Maybe it was the plonk that goes into the sausage mix because it is standard one for the mix and one for the mixers and we took it in turns, it doesn't take much plonk to make a mans mind start to think silly.
After we'd finished making the sausages and we'd cleaned up. We were sitting there having a few cans and I'm looking at the bones of the pig that we'd cut up and I started to think of a mate of mine and a life long friend his name was Lomus Tyler, but very few would have known him by Lomus, he was known as Lofty.
The next photo will show you why he was nick-named Lofty.
Also in the photo is his brother-inlaw Ross Ingram (alias Porky).
A couple of more cans and I said to Terry True the fella who was with me. "I think we should set Lofty up". He said "how". Then we planned our attack. I said "we will tie some rope to these pig bones and a wooden stake and we'll go over to Lofty's place." He'd not long had a farmers dam sunk along side his house and it was his pride and joy because Lofty and Peg battled through life, like a lot of country people. I think it was seven kids, also they both liked a drink and a smoke.
He'd stocked his dam with marron (fresh-water crayfish)and he was very protective of it. I remember when I went over and first saw this dam. I knew they were broke because I'd asked him if he was going to turn up for a weeks holiday at Christmas or two if he could afford it. He said "the cars on it's last legs and I can't afford to fix it". I asked what the story was with the dam. I said "what did that set you back", he said "nothing I think".
Then he told me an old friend of his who was a farmer and lived only one or two kilometres up the road said he would sink the dam for him, because he owned a bull-dozer. So I said "what was the price". Lofty said "I will pay you when I win Lotto" and the gentleman agreed. He was Italian (Scolari.)
Another time I was sitting at the table with Lofty and Peg said "I've just come back from visiting the daughter for a week". I said "did you go Loft", Peg jumps in and say's "no he did not and do you know why", I said "no Peg" she said "he couldn't take his f!!!ing dam with him".
The photo above shows Lofty and his dam. Would you believe he's got a small rock on the edge of the water and he's looking to see how much it had risen. The following photo shows maybe one or two years later. I know he was a king in his own rights. They say the lord looks after his own. I would prefer the devil looks after its own, otherwise I mighten catch up with him. Also he wouldn't know anybody up there.(joke)
Terry said he had some big marron heads in the freezer that had been cooked, I think they were going to be used for burly when he went fishing. We also gathered all the empty beer cans and we headed for Lofty's which was about 30klms, I think we had some full cans to. I'd have liked to have had a video camera hidden and watched big Lofty when he went to his dam the next morning, especially if the camera had sound. The marron heads were laying around the bank, the stakes were knocked into the ground and the bones were in the water. Also the empty beer cans were scattered.
It didn't take long for the word to spread that Lofty was wanting blood. I made sure that he would come after me, so I rang him one night and I made out I was an Italian and my name was Musolini. I said "some body she pinchem your marrons," he said "yes the mongrels". I said "you don't tell him, I hear him talking in da pub", I said "hisa name Gillard". You know I didn't think Lofty would call me that but he did.
I let it go for a week or two before I went over to catch up with him, he was sitting at the back of the house in the sun. When I hops out the car, he yells out "Musolini you mongrel".
I remember when I was 17 and my father talked me into going in a dart tournament at the Club Hotel and like I've said before the drinking age was 21. Lofty was one of the fellas I played and we became good mates. We worked together on the Construction of the Muja Power-house in 64 and in our lunch break we played darts and on Saturday's we'd meet at the Club Hotel and many other dart players. They were good times.
Lofty liked to have a punt on the horses and would also gamble on the darts. We teamed up and we would go from pub to pub chasing a game for money. He was well known and liked. I think they all liked to challenge him. He would except any bet if he had the money in his pocket and I went along for the ride. Many times over the years, after the pub had closed or we ran out of opponents, we'd head off to a local cafe and Lofty would order steak, eggs with chips and salad and he would pay for it. Many times he would poke 5 or 10 pound in my shirt pocket.
I remember another night we were playing and it was getting on a bit and they changed the game to singles. I've said before it was called 51 which you had to score with three darts for 2 shillings (20 cents). Sometimes there would be 10-15 playing. When you think you could buy a glass of beer for 20 cents or 2 shillings, it was good money. I knew I could handle this game better than anyone there and many times I went home with pockets bulging. Later in life I can see the wife and the kids counting it on the bed, also I would take home Chinese (women, joke I mean food)or a cooked chook.
This night there's a fella and he's not too happy being beaten by a young fella like me. He whispers I'm not going to give you 2 shillings. He had a bit of a reputation for adding up and subtracting on the dart board. They used to say he had a head like a calculator. But that's where it stopped, he wasn't the sharpest knife in the draw. He was a heavy built man and I remember a story they told about a gentleman who could fight, but he punched himself out on this particular bloke and they both walked away. Again he say's I'm not going to give you your 2 shillings, but he said it too loud and Lofty heard him, he walked over and picked him up by the throat under the chin and walks him backwards to the wall. I can still see him trying to get to his fob pocket for the 2 shillings.
The photo below shows Lofty later in life with a couple of marron and I'm not too sure who the young fella is.
We had many good times camped on the beach at our favourite fishing haunts also pig-hunting and fishing for red-fin. We played in the same dart team all our life. We travelled to the city and many country towns in a combined dart team. There's many stories on Lofty and I will tell you a few in time.
A lot of different fellas talked about Lofty's feet, he had a fair grip on the earth. He liked to be barefooted and there was talk he got married in thongs. I always believed that until I put it to Peg one day and she quite abruptly said "he never did". It ruined a good story.
Another time we were out and about, poaching I wont say what for. We'd been there for quite awhile and when I looks around Lofty's got a fair size bushy tree and he's dragging it over the ground. I said "what are you doing". He says "I'm the only one who leaves a track like that". I laughed and said "how did you get that tree down". He didn't say anything, but he was poking his tongue out the side of his mouth and I swear there was bark on his lips.(joke) But it was true about brushing his tracks out.
The photo above shows the West Australian Boxing Team going over to fight for the Australian Titles. Terry Johnson (alias Boof) on the left and fourth from the left is his brother Max.
This photo shows Boof and his Holden Ute which was his pride and joy. You can see all the extras he had on it. Many times I went out hunting with Boof. He was friends with my older brother Bob. I also remember when I was first old enough to go to Police-boys with a couple of mates. It was just a night out for us, we were only 10 or 11. Even at that age I knew Boof. I can see him laying on the floor with his hands under his head and we used to take it in turns with the big medicine ball. We'd lift it above our head and throw it as hard as we could at his stomach. We'd eventually give in.
There was a story, he got a puncture in the back tyre, there were only two of them and there was no jack. Terry lifted the ute while his mate put the spare wheel on.
I remember times when they turned up at our house on the weekends, there might be half a dozen or 8 of them and they'd have a five gallon keg of beer and they'd all sit around it drinking. No doubt they would have all been under-age being the drinking age was 21. Very rarely if ever, there was no trouble. There'd be no swearing full stop or fighting, all because early in the night Boof would say "if anyone steps out of line you will answer to me". He wouldn't tolerate any swearing in front of a woman. But he loved to party and have a good time and get up to what ever there was to get up to. I grew up under Terry and we became good friends. He loved his hunting and fishing.
I remember another time when he came around to our place, I was maybe 15 or 16. It was late in the afternoon. Terry said "do you want to go for a run to Cordering" which was a old timber mill, with a few houses in the bush, surrounded by farming country. My oldest brother Tom and his wife Daph were living there and my second oldest brother Bob. Also some other fellas from Collie and they were all in for a good session of drinking except my brother Tom. He was married and content with life.
I remember when Terry pulled up in his ute. He had a few big bottles of beer on the seat. So I quickly ran over knelt down in the gutter and pulled out two bottles that I'd stashed there under the culvert. We also had the spot-light and a rifle and we were going to shoot a few roos for the pet-meat shop, because we had to travel through a lot of bush country to get too this mill. Also farm country. The kangaroos were thick.
As we were travelling along the different gravel roads, we were passing a big bottle back and forth and at that age two bottles would just about put me in a coma. But big Terry could drink all night and all day. I knew the roads we were taking because I worked in another mill in this area when I was 14. I must have forgot to tell Terry about a bad L shaped bend, maybe I was going into that coma. He yelled and when I opened one eye(joke) I knew we were in for a rough time, we were already in a four-wheel drift, in a straight line, out of the bend and into the bush. You couldn't worry Boof with a stick, he looked at me and started laughing. Fortunately we hadn't marked the car.
I remember when we walked into the mill hut, they were all sitting around the table drinking, mostly big bottles. But they also had another drink which I think they also used to light the fire in the morning. I can see them tipping a little bit of this in their glass also they'd tip a portion of it on the table, then touch it with a match and it would ignite and burn away. While they swallowed their bit in a glass and wash it down with a swig from the big bottle.
Generally this sort of drinking can get out of hand because some there will start talking silly and it can lead to a blue or a fight. But very rarely if Terry's at the table.
One of the fellas drinking had a girlfriend who was as pretty as pretty can get and dark- skinned, her nick-name was Apache, as in Apache Indian and they say she could beat a lot of the men with her fists. I remember my oldest brothers wife Daph saying she was talented with a paint-brush. I know that Daph knew what she was talking about, because she could paint an orchid, like it was a photograph. As I know it the Apache came from the north-west of Western Australia, where she paired up with one of the fellas at the table, who was working up in the north, I think on cattle-stations.
The Apache also had a reputation for riding horses. It was said she rode through town one day and I think everybody stared at her style, she was naked.
Another story I've been told by a few different fellas and I believe they are true. There was a meeting held in a big hall this was also up north, they reckon the Apache walked in again naked and issued a challenge that she could out-ride, out-wrestle and out-? (censored) anyone in the hall, male or female.
I remember when Terry and myself left that night but I'm f!!k if I can remember the time. We shot 6 roos, and a few rabbits. I remember Terry holding the spot when I went to get one of the kangaroos. As I was dragging it back, it was down-hill and I was trying to run. Instead of aiming the spotlight in front of me on the ground, he had it in my eyes, he was doing it deliberate, next minute I'm down a hole, I could hear him laughing. When we get closer to town we duck down a sandy bush track, where we were going to knock the top-quarters off and gut the rabbits. We pulled up and were sitting there. Terry said "it must be getting late". I agreed. I remember we were talking for a little while.
Would you believe I could hear a noise and couldn't work it out. When I opened my eyes, it was the next day and there was a fella going past us on a horse. Big Terry had his head between the car seat and the side of the car, I slapped him on the shoulder, I can see the startled look on his face when he opened his eyes. Then that distinct laugh of his a cackle. Then we had to gut the roos, which were puffed up from being left too long and it's all that much harder when your hung-over.
But they were good times and for a 15 year old to be in the company of a man like Terry, I cherish the many times we had together working also partying. I'll tell some of the times I had with him a bit later.
This is a photo of Boof as a young fella with his brother Max. I've told you before I had a lot to do with Boof, especially from about 15 years onwards.
I had a few bob in my pocket because I'd already been working for a couple of years. I remember in the hot summer nights going out with Boof to the local swimming holes where there were also different groups. Some in their late teens and early 20s. They'd light up a fire and everyone would be standing around with a large bottle of beer, better known as a king brown.
There were three big diving boards on the bank of the pool, also a couple of big swings that hung out of the trees. Then different ones would challenge each other, they'd get on the swing two at a time and see who could make the other one fall when they go over the water. After a couple of bottles we were known to do this in the winter. Then it was either stand around the fire and dry or head home for a change of clothes.
Also in the summer we would race each other across the big pool they call Minninup. There were many parties held out there. The banks were lined with yellow sand in sections. Some were tucked in out of the way behind bushes. They became known as The Bedrooms. But I wouldn't know about that I was only 15, the only habit I had was I lie.
I remember when I was at Primary School and there was no town pool. They'd load us all onto buses and take us out to Minninup Pool and we'd do our swimming classes for certificates. (junior, intermediate and senior). When we got there the teacher would say to me and two aboriginal boys that I grew up with (Jumbo Cockie and Dougy Mears), yous can go over and do what you like on the swings or the diving boards. We never sat an exam but we passed them all. We were all brought up on the river.The photo above shows Minninup from the past, before my time and you can see it was quite a big river. The following photo is our Granddaughter Crystal feeding the ducks at Minninup Pool in 2010.Another incident I remember with Boof. I think it was a Sunday morning. I opened the back door of the house and I'm looking at Boofs pride and joy, his Holden ute. All the front-end is smashed in. When he turned up later in the morning, he told us what had happened. He said I was coming around the corner of the Club Hotel, which is our local watering hole.
He said he heard a siren behind him. He turned up the next street left which takes you out of town, then he turns right into a bush track, that ducks back and into town. He said I must have been travelling too quick, I failed to take the corner. There was a big open storm-water drain and that's where he finished up.
He said when he got out he could see the head-lights coming at him. When it pulled up he could see it was one of his mates car. They walked over to him, I think he was that relieved he didn't do anything when they told him it was one of them doing the siren with their mouth. It shows you how good natured he was, he loved to play games and play up.
Many times he had reason to punch some loud-mouths but he never did. He'd either talk his way out of it or shock them with what he was capable of doing. Like one time they were at a dance hall called Noggerup and it's in the middle of no-where, just a few houses and no shops. People would turn up from different towns.
A friend of mine and who was also a friend of Boofs and around the same age. Was saying he used to go to these dances before he was married with Erica, who is his wife now. She told me that big Boof was the best she ever danced with. He'd have his big arms under hers and she said it felt like she was floating around the hall.
They tell me one time, Boof and a few of his mates, left the hall and went outside to have a couple of bottles. They were standing there and a stranger came out. They say he looked over and seen them drinking the bottles. He had a half a glass of beer in his hand, he swallowed that, walked over to Boof and said "fill this up". They reckon he was a fair lump. There's a good chance his intentions were to cause an argument or fight. Boof said "I think you'd be better off going back inside". He said "if you don't fill my glass, I will take the bottle off you and fill it myself".
Boof didn't say anything, he passed the bottle to one of his mates, then he walked to the big fella, picked him up from under the arms, lifted him above his shoulders and bounced him arse first off the bonnet of a car that was parked along side of them. They reckon he scrambled to his feet and done what Boof said. He went back inside real quick.
Another time they were standing outside having a drink and the band that was playing there, came out for a drink and a smoke also. There's quite a few groups standing around. Would you believe the singer came over to Boof and accused him of abusing him while he was singing. Boof would not do that sort of thing. Then he said "you haven't got that big of mouth now have ya". They reckon quite a few had gathered around, some of them were trying to tell the singer who he was picking.
Boof put his finger up to the fellas mouth and said "I wont punch you here" then touched his belly, and said "I'll punch you here and it will come out of your mouth and I don't think you will sing any more tonight". Then someone in the crowd convinced him who he was picking. He also disappears back into the hall.
The photo above shows me on the right and three fellas that I grew up with. Derek Watts (left) whose granddad was old Danny Gray and I've told stories how Derek and myself used to camp out on his property in the 50's. Next to Derek is Gary Butcher and his brother Brian. We had many good times together. We'd known each other since Primary School and even today we bump into each other now and then and its always good to have a talk.
Derek tragically lost his life fishing roughly in his early 30's.
The next photo shows the two of us in early times. Dereks maybe 17 and I'm maybe 15. We never lost our passion for fishing. As you can see Dereks got a big heavy hand-line. I think it was a 200lb breaking strain.I remember when Derek got his first car a FX Holden 48-50 model. The next photo shows Derek sitting on the mud-gard.
I've lost count of the many trips we went on together.
I remember one long weekend we done a round-trip from Collie to Kalgoolie, then onto Esperance, then to Albany onto Kojinup and back to where we started. Roughly a couple of thousand kilometres, just for something to do. I remember when we were at Albany, we went to see the Whaling Station. It's an odour I'll never forget.
I had a little box-brownie camera and I took a couple of photo's of the Whaling Station as the next few photo's show.The photo above in the left hand corner you can see a man operating a winch which is used to snig the whale out of the water and onto the deck to be cut up. Also if you look at the centre of the photo out in the water you can see a whale, that is tied to the fence-like structure that goes out maybe 50 yards, I think with a pipe on top that was maybe used to pump the slurry and blood out of the pits.
If you look closely at the whale in the water, you can see what I believe is the fin of a big shark. I was talking to a couple of the men who worked there and they told me that the sharks were that bad at times, they had to go out with a high-powered rifle and shoot them. They'd put a big hook in the shark, I think or tie a loop on his tail and use the winch to snig him up onto the deck. They reckon when they cut the shark open, there would be maybe 17 or 18 big lumps of whale blubber that a man would battle to lift.
They told me to watch the whale in the water and many times I seen the fins, then the big whale would rock. So if there were a half a dozen or more sharks, you would think they would be taking a fair bit of the profits.
On the right hand side of the picture you can see another up-right winch. If you follow the beam up, you can see the cable that comes down with a pulley on it and it's attached to the whale. When they lift it and put pressure on it. The men have got a big curved blade attached to a long stick like a broom handle and they cut the whale up effortlessly. Then the winch would pivot around and drop parts of the whale in the round hole you can see on the right hand side.The photo above shows one of the sharks minus his head. There was good value in their jaws. This practice has ceased. The whale is no longer hunted in Australia which is a good thing.
I remember in the early 60's and the walk-in movies were still going. One was called the Theatre Royal which was on the east-side of the railway line that went through the centre of town and the Bow Cinema was on the west-side. It was before TV became popular. You could count on one hand how many people had TV in Collie, so the movies were very popular.
I've seen nights where they had to turn people away. I'm only guessing but some nights I think there would be in the vicinity of 200. At interval or half-time most of the men and a few women would go outside for a smoke. So you might have a hundred of them standing on the footpath and some on the road. There where very few cars travelling at that time of night.
I remember we were cruising around town in Dereks old Holden, 4 or 5 of us and were passing a big bottle around. One of the mates had a rubber gorillas mask. We'd see a few girls walking and he'd jump out and after them. I've seen them not only scream, they'd cry. A couple even dropped their hand-bags, maybe they thought that's what he was after.
This particular night it was close to half-time at the movies. I think there was a horror movie on. The mate said "let me off and I'll hide in a door-way", which he did. He was a big built boy and he looked the part. We were parked in front of the theatre watching from the car. He made a hideous noise and came bouncing out of the shadows and straight for these people. They were scattering everywhere, women screaming also a couple of deep screams which I think came from men.
I can see him bouncing across the road and into the car. It's a wonder we didn't cop a smack in the mouth or a kick in the arse. We were known to go to other towns and do this too. It was pretty harmless when you think about it especially when you see some of the things that take place today. Like old men and old ladies being assaulted by a couple of young fellas. This sort of thing didn't take place in the era that I was brought up in.
The main reason that it didn't take place, was not necessarily the law. It was the groups of young men that controlled it. Because they would have got an absolute hiding and the law would have turned a blind-eye. Even if someone king-hit or kicked somebody, he became a target and would be sorted out. It's a pity that sort of law is not applied today.
I have trouble trying to forget this day. We'd gone out hunting, Bobby Carroll and myself and something took place that we agreed not to talk about. We'd been chasing pigs most of the day, it was getting quite hot and Bobby said "I think we'll head for the pub". So we did. The bar was crowded, there were a lot of tourists. It's a bush pub called Dwellingup and it's not far from the Murray River, which is popular with campers.
The dart boards crowded and they're playing a game where the winner holds the board, until he loses and there's a list of initials on the score board wanting to challenge the winner. It's $2 a game and it's known as 501, finishing with a double. Bobby said "you'd have to have a go at that wouldn't ya". We'd had a few beers, so I went up and put my initials in the line. There's a big young fella and he's got control of the board, beating all challengers.
When it comes to my turn, most of the losers have stopped puting their initials up, they know he's too good for them. He's got a few mates and their women and there was quite a crowd watching. We play and I beat him. I think another couple challenged and I beat them. So it's the young fellas turn to play again and I beat him. There's no more challengers and he say's "it's just me and you". It took me maybe an hour to take his winnings off him. He said "you've got me, this is the last challenge". I beat him again.
Then I said something to him that offends a dart player. I said "I will stand you up a hundred." Which means he can play 401 and I play 501, insult to injury. What generally happens here, he will try too hard and it seems to put them off a bit, especially with the women and his mates watching. I said "we shoot closest to the bull to see who goes first". It's a bit risky because if he beats you for the bull and he starts with a hundred, it's more or less 200 start. But I beat him for the bull and won the game.
A few hours had passed, Bobby and myself were sitting at the bar and there's an old fella sitting along side of me. I hadn't noticed him there before and he's got a little book about the size of a wallet and he's flicking through the pages. He looks at me and Bobby and say's "how ya going", then he said "would yous be interested in puting your names in this book for a raffle, it's $2 a ticket". Then he turns a page and shows us first prize. Which was a big house on the water-front, turns to the next page second prize a luxury boat, turns another page, third prize a big 4-wheel drive, then he said "there's many smaller prizes to be won as well".
He closes the book and shows the title on the cover. It was called "The Old Bastards Club". He told us it originated in America, with some old fellas, hence the name "Old Bastards Club" and it had expanded to what it is today. So Bobby and myself wrote our names and address. He told us when this book was full, he would send it to America and all the names which had their address would receive the same book in the mail and the names we collected in our book goes into a point system and increases our chances of winning one of the prizes.
Bobby and myself started talking about it, then we realized the old fella had gone. Then another gentleman walked over. He said "you've just put your name and address down in the "Old Bastards Club". He said "don't feel too bad about this, he got me too. So I wouldn't feel too bad, I watched him get you". There's no such thing and yous are in that Old Bastards Club". Bobby said "I feel like punching you mate". No he didn't, we had a few drinks with him and laughed about it and it reminded me again what an old bushman said to me !It's no good getting old if you don't get cunning!
The gentleman in the photo above is Bobby Carroll's father and if you look closely at his left wrist you can see that he's been handcuffed to the upright pole. It's his birthday and I know he wouldn't have minded if they had thrown away the key. He liked a beer and if the TAB was in range he'd be quite content. If you look at Jims right shoulder, there's another gentleman looking over it in the background and he owned the handcuffs. He came from the city where he was head of the CIB in Perth. His name was Don Hancock (alias The Silver Fox). They done a Documentary type movie on him in the series Under-Belly.
I wont go into too much detail on that, but you take a man on face value and to me he was good company. Loved a drink with the boys, also he liked to poach a few marron. I remember taking him out pig-hunting one afternoon when I knocked off from the mines about 3o'clock and we had 10 pigs before dark. I think I released them all, maybe I was still tagging them. I remember saying to Don "you'll have to release this pig", he said "bullshit" or words to that effect.
I explained to him that the dogs wouldn't go back to the ute with him. They'd want to stay with me and the pig. So he had to let the pig go while I took the dogs back. We'd snug it over to a log where he could release it and jump up for protection. He tried to work out a couple of other solutions, but there was nothing doing. As I walked away I said "you be careful Don". I know he tightened up even more. There's no worry's with this, they will bolt 99 times out of 100. But he didn't know this. He said a bit later "you put the fear of the devil into me back there".
Another time there was Don, myself, Bobby Carroll, Taffy Jones and a couple of other fellas who we didn't know and we were sitting at a bar in the city having a few drinks. One of the fellas that we didn't know was a Welshman and he loved to sing. Our mate Taffy Jones was a Welshman and I've said before he could sing like a bird. After a couple of hours they're cranking out song after song and Don Hancocks joining in. I'd wander off every so often to the dart board and I could still hear them in the distance singing.Thirteen hour later, we're still there. Generally if a mans got a bad streak in him after thirteen hours of drinking, you will see or hear tell-tale signs. Don was as good as company as you get.
He was telling me a yarn one time. He was in charge of a squad of police that went up north chasing some fellas that were known to be smuggling gold. I think out of the mines. They would take it out into the back-blocks away from civilization. Don said we knew they would have set up, I think they call it a smelter. Where they melt the gold out of the rock. He said every time they got out a certain distance following their tracks, they would run out. This was on a station, there were no roads. They'd follow a fence line sometimes. But they always run out of signs.
This day they decided to get on motor-bikes and follow off to the side of the fence line about a kilometre either side and sure enough they drove onto their tracks. They followed them back to the fence and could see where they'd been brushing their tracks out with a bush. Would you believe three of the posts were sitting in jam tins level with the top of the ground. They used to lift them up and lay the fence down, then drive over top of it and they beat the squad of police for a long time.
Once they realized what they were doing, they flew over the area in a plane, picked out the most likeliest clump of bushes or trees where they could hide their set-up. Then they returned and walked in on foot. Don said he was sneaking in, it was open country. He's maybe 100 yards from them and one of the smugglers walked out from the clump of trees and started picking up lumps of wood for the fire. Don said he must have been wrapped up in what he was doing, he didn't see me.
Deep down I was barracking for the smugglers.
This next story involves some Aboriginals who are deceased.
I got to know James Khan, I'm not too sure if it was the late sixties or early seventies. We worked together in the Shire and we became good friends. He knew I was always hunting. So this day he asked if I could get him a kangaroo for eating. I said "I'd be more than happy to do that". I also said "would you like to come out with me". He said "dat would be good my boy".
James had an unusual voice, even when he spoke to you it sounded like he was happy. I told him I'd pick him up from his place after work. As we were heading out, James asked how good the dogs were. One was Lady, a 3 quarter Stag hound crossed with a short hair kangaroo dog. The other one was called Bobby and we weren't too sure of his breed. I think he had a little bit of roo-dog in him. I used to refer to him as the cattle dog. He could catch any roo in the bush. James knew what he was looking at. He said "the bitch is a fine cut of a dog, but I'm not too sure about the other one". I assured him he could catch anything in the bush.
We were driving along an old formation and looking up into the distance about 5-600 yards we seen a big male kangaroo go across the road. I said to James "he's too big for eating eh", he said "no no I like da big fellas, dey got big strong taste". So I put my foot down. The dogs know when you accelerate, they're bouncing all over the place to see what it is. We get to maybe a couple of hundred yards from it and another big fella comes across. I hit the brakes and the dogs were over the side and gone.
It was open country, good running for dogs. I said "they'll kill one of them". Next minute I can hear barking. I said to James "that's unusual, they'll normally kill when they are both together". So I grabbed the rifle and we ran up to where they were. Lady had one big boomer bayed and about 30-40 yrds away the cattle dog had the other one. I shot both of them. We each carried a hind-quarter back on our shoulders. About a half an hour later we're driving around, James said "stop" when I pulled up, he said "there's a big fella back der, he bend down lookin at me like dis." So I started to reverse back. We watched him come across the road. The dogs were gone. When they came back, I said to James ask Lady "where is it". She was one of the best to take you back to a kill. James also carried that hind-quarter back to the ute.
When we got back to James place, he carried one of the big hind-quarters around to the back verandah, where we hung him up and knocked the skin off so the meat would set in the cold night air and it makes it easier to cut the meat into feed sizes. He said "com'on now we'll have a couple of bottles". I remember sitting at the table. His wife had brought out a couple of photo albums and we sat there for maybe 3-4 hours.
This happened many times over the next few years.
The photo's that follow shows James Khan Snr and his wife Irene. I remember another trip I had out the bush with James. We were chasing kangaroo again. There had been no signs of pigs, which made it all that more exciting when a mob walked out onto the road. James yelled out "look here my boy, pigs". We got a couple but I didn't want them so I released them. James had one about 20lb in his hands. I told him to hop in the ute and leave the door open and as I was taking off I told him to throw the pig out. Which he did at the same time I put my foot down, which prevented the dogs from going over the side for the pig again.As we drove off James said "dats hard work chasing dem pigs, dey fast little fellas eh!" He wasn't built for running pigs down more so to carry them.He was a powerful man and was in good condition.
He was a top shearer in his day and his name is in the record books. He would also put his hand to anything that put a few bob in his pocket and made life a bit easier for his family. Like digging spuds with a pitch-fork and putting them into bags by hand. Also he would get work on the side with different farmers. Stick-picking or rock-picking. His family would join in with him because a lot of this work was contract. He was paid by the acre or how many bags they had filled with potatoes and if you haven't tried this, you don't want to. It's back-breaking and hard yakka.
Another thing with the shearing game, was when they knocked off. They would head straight for the living quarters. When I first saw this I thought they were religious. They'd kneel down along side their bed and drag out a carton of big bottles, known as king-browns. They were never kept in the fridge even up in the north in the hot country. The shearers would say they are Kimberley cool. Personally I would drink muddy water before a Kimberley cool.
It reminds me of another time James and myself were driving around the bush-tracks hunting. It was a hot spring day. We were in wandoo country, which is the last of the bush to dry out after winter. There was a big limb that had fallen onto the bush-track. I said to James "it's risky to get around this limb, being it's wandoo bush". We decided to have a go. We were all but around it and there was a root coming away from the tree. I tried to bounce it over it and failed. When we got out to check it, the ground was spongy under-foot.
A couple of hours later we were still trying to jack it up and fill the ruts with whatever we could get. Rocks, pieces of wood and also I said to James "break some of the dry fronds from the grass-tree", which I normally call a black-boy but I knew better than to say that to James Khan. Like I've said he was a powerful man and I could visualize myself rolling around the mud with him, no doubt on top. We finished up walking down to the creek and washing the muddy clay off us. As we drove off James put his hand on the floor and he said " look look ere my boy" and he's got a big bottle of beer in his hand. I said "James that's been there I don't know how long" he said "no no dats good". I know he enjoyed drinking it.
The next few stories are of Aboriginal friends of mine. Some are deceased. One in particular is considered bad luck to talk of him and they strongly believe this. I was good friends of this mans grandson and great grandson. Dougy and Davey Mears. Doug is in Permanent Care and is bedridden from a severe stroke, he is unable to talk. But you can tell when he's happy, he smiles and makes a noise when he likes what you are talking about. I was after a photo of Dougy so I went around to his son Davey's place. I told him I was going to put down a story of myself and his great grandad and some other Noongars growing up the way we did and I would like a photo of Dougy. Dave said "I've got a photo of dad and his half brother Davey Ugle (deceased)". Who I have already told stories on. Dougy's on the right and Dave's on the left.As I was about to leave, young Davey said "Jock I've got another old photo here of my great grandad". I said "can I have a look at it". When he passed it to me, I couldn't believe what I was looking at. I said Dave "where did you get the photo". He didn't answer me he looked at the ground. I let it go for awhile then put it to him again. The same thing, he looked to the ground, then slowly brought his eyes up to mine. I said "Davey you don't want to talk about this". He said "no Jock". So I let it go at that. He let me take the photo's home to put down on the computer, then I returned them. But it left me wondering what was the reason for him not wanting to talk about it.
The next photo shows his great grandad. Who was known as Jackie Mears. I don't know how wide-spread this was but the Collie Noongars will not talk his name. Jackie Mears is on the left. Curiosity got the better of me, plus I wanted to tell a few stories on Jackie and I did not want to offend his family or Noongars in general.
I was driving along a road and I saw another Aboriginal, James Khan (alias Jum). So I waved him down and when I walked up along side of his car. He said "how ya going Jock". Then I told him I was chasing a bit of information on an Aboriginal gentleman who had passed away. I could see the change in Jums face. I said "his name is Jackie Mears". He put his hand up as though I'd threatened him. He said "I can't talk his name". I said "come on Jum I want to tell a couple of stories on him". He said "no no I'm off" and he drove away. A week or two later he was talking to my oldest son Dave. He said "tell your father I'm sorry for driving off".
I had a similar incident a bit later another Noongar friend of mine, Bruce Hart had been trying to get me a photo of James Cockie (better known as Jumbo), who I'd grown up with as a young fella and we remained friends all our life but is now deceased. I went around to Bruces place to see if he'd got the photo, but he wasn't home. His wife said "he's still trying to get the photo". Then I said to her" I'm trying to get some information on an old Aboriginal who's deceased". Again I could see that look in her face and when I mentioned Jackie Mears she made a mournful sound and put two of her fingers on her throat and said "don't talk him" and I could see she was as sincere as could be. I told her I was wanting to write a couple of stories about him. She said "you can talk him, but not me".
When I went home I was telling the wife. I said again I don't want to offend anyone. So I said I'm going up to the hospital where my good friend Dougy Mears, the grandson of Jackie is in permanent care. I have visited Dougy many times and I'd talk to him about our school days and growing up in the bush like we did. When I'd say something to him, he'd make a noise and his face would light up, letting me know he was remembering everything I was telling him.
Like one time, we'd dug ourselves an underground cubby and on the weekend I'd tell me mum that I was going to sleep at my mates place and we'd all sleep in that underground cubby. Jumbo, Dougy his half brother Davey and a couple of other fellas at times. I said to Doug "we'd always have filter-tip numeries unna" and the noises he'd make, told me he was laughing.
This day I said "Dougy there's something I want to ask you and I'm not too sure how you're going to react." I said "I want to talk about your grandad". One of Dougy's arms is completely paralyzed and the other one is partially. So I put my index finger in his good hand. I said "Doug if you don't want me to talk of your grandad, let my finger go, but if it's alright for me to talk of him, squeeze my finger". Which he did and wouldn't let go. I told him how I'd found where his grandad used to live on the Harris River and maybe where Dougy was born. It was on the opposite side of the river to where they built a timber mill called Douglas Jones's. Which is where the photo below of Jackie Mears was taken. I will tell more stories on Jackie a bit further down the track.
I took the photo above in 2007. You can see a horseshoe and a childs bike, which I picked up off the ground and put them on the stump. In the background you can see whats left of an old tin chimney and a few bricks, which would have been part of the fireplace. The rest of the house would have been made of timber and maybe fire or time itself has taken it away. I remember wondering who might have lived there. I'd not long had my first digital camera also the computer and I was keen to get down some of the history of the first settlers and the different ones that pioneered the jarrah forest.
I started asking questions from the old bushmen that I knew. One was Frank Balingall, who was brought up on a farm back in the 40's. It was only 7 or 8 klms from where the photo was taken. He told me one of the first jobs as a young fella was at Douglas Jones Timber Mill and he worked with Jackie Mears. Then he told me Jackie lived on the opposite side of the river to the mill. I asked Frank to describe to me exactly where the mill was. When he finished telling me, I told him that the remnants of Jackies house was still visible. He said "I don't think so Jock, it's all farm country now and blue-gums." I told him there was a big section of forest that was untouched. So I asked him to come out for a drive with me and I would show him. He said "I'd like to do that". As we were coming down through the bush and getting close to the river. Frank said "by the lay of the country, we're heading straight for Jackie Mears house" The photo above shows Frank standing where Jackies house once stood and in the background you can see the line of trees which are on the edge of the river. I said to Frank "there is a double line of posts that go across the river." He said "that was Jackies little walk bridge, which give him access to the mill". The next photo shows you the posts. Also in the photo above you can see the decking laying on the ground that once laid on top of the posts. As we were walking around checking things out Frank said a funny thing happened many years ago with Jackie Mears. He'd been out the bush on his horse and when he returned, he had 2 little wild pigs in a hessian bag. He was showing the different people that were there and one of the pigs got away. They chased it but couldn't catch it. Jackie reared the other little one until it was pretty much fully grown.
Frank laughed and said it got him into trouble. Apparently it used to free rein at times. A pigs cunning when it comes to tucker, it got to know when the mill blew it's whistle to knock off. It would head across the river, up into the mill and eat all the blocks of skid-grease. Which was roughly the size of a pound of butter. The mill workers used to grease up the rails so it would make it easier to slide the sleepers or whatever timber they were cutting. So the pig had to go. Jackie was also licensed to catch wild horses (brumbies) and sell to the army, they were used in war.
I know Jackie also hunted water-rats because my father also used to hunt them. He was telling me one day with a big smile on his face that Jackie used to look for his water-rats. Dad could tell by all the horse tracks along the river bank. Most of the bushmen that hunted water-rats would set along the waters edge. Dad said that makes it easy for someone to find them. He told me he used to get a piece of meat and drag it on the ground from the waters edge to roughly 20-30 feet in the bush. He'd place a rabbit trap on top of the ground, it didn't have to be covered, he'd get a stick about 12-15" long, poke it in the ground along side of the trap. Then put a lump of meat on the end of the stick. When the water-rat finds it, he will stand up on his back legs trying to get the meat and eventually get caught.
It reminds me of that saying (it's no good getting old if you don't get cunning) Dad also told me he'd lost score of how many times he walked his push-bike over Jackie Mears little bridge on his way out to my Mums brothers farm to go hunting. Sometimes with the roo dogs following him. He'd have a 303 across his back and a hessian bag for the skins. Roughly 80 years ago. He said Jackie Mears was a real gentleman and seemed to get along with everybody, especially the workers and the bushmen.