Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Dirk in comments on the last but one post, made a very good suggestion: That motorbikes be used to run a long otherwise impassable fenceline instead of 2 ringers on horseback.

Hmmm, good point Dirk. However, station policy (formed by the manager) was to maximise the operating life of everything mechanical via an astute policy of ringers not being allowed to touch anything with an engine. (There were boremen, a cowboy and a grader driver for that)

The one exception to this "no-engines-for-ringers" rule was the ubiquitous red body-truck of the outback, the Toyota D-6000. Deemed by many to be "ringer-proof" this workhorse always lived up to the faith shown in it by the Manager.

(pic expands nicely when left clicked)

Anyway, a discussion about bikes would have been academic, as the station did not possess any. Nor did it possess any staff capable (or willing) of battling on a motorbike accross a mitchell grass plain where the tussocks were the size of milk crates.

The merits of this were not discussed at the time. The boss gave the orders, we carried them out!

(Note: In Ozzi outback terminology the word for "gardener" & "houseyard helper" has always been "cowboy" - origins of the name are from the responsibility of looking after the station's milking cow. The term "cowboy" when applied to one who rides a horse & handles cattle is most insulting, although in an unrelated development of recent years it seems to have usurped "rough-rider" as the word to describe a rodeo competitor. Personal opinion:- "Rough-Rider" is a much better word)

Among the station's two stock camps there were only 3 men who had seen a motorbike used on a station. Two of these were the respective headstockmen, and also me. Coincidentally the 3 of us were also the only non-aboriginal ringers on the station.

Many of the younger ringers were related to the older ones, and were learning the trade in the same stock camp and under the tutelage of their uncles, fathers, cousins or older brothers.

Made of very stern stuff, most of these fellows were away from family for months at time working quite hard, for an amount little different to (or sometimes less than) what the "blackfeller sit-down money" which is available to them if they stayed in town (& "sat down").


coolbreeze said...

I always thought that cowboy was someone who did ride a horse and handle cattle. aha~ "rough-rider" is a much better word to call them... :o)

Dirk said...

Bikes become unrideable a bit more often than horses, too.