Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
Tales From The Sand Hills an Australian Outback Adventure.
‘Tales from the Sand Hills’ is set in the Australian outback during the 50’s and 60’s. The times were pretty hard in post-war, post-depression Australia and to survive out there in the Australian outback you had to be a bit tough. And that country out there was particularly tough.
It was a constant battle for food and water. The heat in the summer was a real killer with temperatures up around 40-45%c. or 110-115%f. for weeks on end. When the north wind blew it would kill most living plants in its path except the mulga trees spinifex and a few other hardy desert grasses and bushes and of course the old blue bush or salt bush.
It would whip up dust storms that could kill anything in its path. When my mother got up in the morning she swept the dust off the table before she could put breakfast on it. When we played cards at night we did it with cloths tied round our mouths and noses. They were a frightening thing to see those dust storms rolling in in great clouds. You could get lost in a hundred feet.
During the droughts, animals, stock, vegetation and even humans occasionally would die. Up in the cattle country the men on those stations would be kept busy pulling cattle from bogs around dams and shooting cattle to put them out of their misery. The animals that did best out there were the ones that had been there all along. The natives.
In one of my stories I tell of one time my family and I almost perished. Situations like that sometimes just get thrown your way and you have to deal with it the best you can. We survived of course and were a little wiser for it. You had to learn by your mistakes if you got the chance.
Through the radio and papers we were kept up to date with fashions, news, and music and fun. It was a great time to be alive, those were exciting times indeed. All of the people I write about in these stories were very important because you had to rely on each other. If you were broken down on the side of the road for example, no one drove straight passed you. You always stopped and got them going or to where they wanted to go. It was survival.
My family and friends are the main characters in my book of short stories. I have written as close as I could possibly get to the truth and I have written it as a tell all. I have glossed nothing over nor have I exaggerated the pain and hardship. I would just like to say here that I would not go back and change a thing, I am who I am. All the love I have in my heart and the attitudes I carry are thanks to my family and friends both human and animal.
Now on the other side, the lighter side of life in the outback were the wonderful and colourful procession of characters. What can I say about them, read the book if you get the chance I guess. My father was an old world war two digger; he was away at war for six years. He was a commando and he won some medals of valour. Dad had some mates who were also world war two diggers. I idolised them and I think that shows in the book.
I guess my story has a little different take on the outback, not everyone up there owns a station. There are a lot of folk out there who do all sorts of jobs. My father was a rabbiter come boundary rider come railway worker and ringer, anything he had to do to make a buck. He did a stint as a kangaroo shooter but he didn’t like doing that.
The other thing that came over in the book and even surprised me is how the bush takes care of its own. If you slip up she can punish you though and she can make you pay the ultimate price. There is nothing boring about life in the Australian outback.
An Exerpt fom the story‘A WALK IN THE DESERT
Well here I was on my way to get water one job I didn’t mind doing. I was twelve and I loved driving. Later in life I became a Trucky but that’s got very little to do with this story. We had to cart our water up there, take forty four gallon drums to the bore and fill them with water and cart it home see.
Now this water we used for everything and we used it very carefully. We also drank this water and every time we shifted camp we had to drink different water from a different bore. This lead to a good old dose of the runs every time we shifted to a new bore that was every bit as severe as a case of gastro.
I had just two drums to fill and so I swung the pipe that went from the windmill to the tank over to the drums and hooked up the hose. The drums were full in no time and so I hopped back in the Toyota to head home. Quite pleased I might add and relieved to have beaten the very large herd of very wild cattle on their way in to drink.
Even as far away as they were I could just make out some very large beasts out in front. Wild, scrubber bulls. Enough to send a chill down your spine just thinking about em. Now these critters get mighty ornery when they are hot and thirsty and they don’t take kindly to anyone getting in their way. Well I planned on getting right out of their way. Soon!
And it was hot today must have been forty in the shade at least. Not that there was much of that around. Just the odd scraggy little mulga tree I noticed as I looked over to where the herd was raising quite a dust cloud as they came.
‘Must be coming fast’ I mused as I swung my leg up into the four wheel drive. Cattle tend to stampede when they get the smell of water in their nostrils and on a day like today I didn’t blame them. As the summer progressed and still no rains to bring up the summer grasses, they had to travel farther and farther from their only water supply to get feed.’ Poor beggars’ I mused again as I reached down to turn the key to start the motor up. Yep, wouldn’t want to get in their way, sure makes you appreciate the old four wheel drive mate I thought as I turned the key. And you know that old Toyota decided she wasn’t going anywhere and neither was I. And that huge dust cloud scattered across the horizon, well that was between me and home.
‘Wonderful’ I murmured as I put my head on my arm to wipe the sweat from my eyes, ‘just bloody wonderful.' I glanced down at the seat on my left and put my hand down to touch the comforting smooth butt of my trusty twenty two. A Brno it was with telescopic sights, lovely piece of work. You couldn’t miss.
It was around ten miles home so I thought I’d best get walking. I knew what was wrong with the bloody Toyota but I didn’t have the tools to fix it. Ok so I was twelve alright? And I am female and we seldom bother ourselves with such things.
Any hoot I grabbed up the rifle to get a better look through the sights at what was coming fast toward me and immediately wished that I hadn’t.