BULLGOOSE: At sunset between the ridges, the bachelors call on their longneck didges

The valley of Deep Creek, Dubadar, “place of women” in Wahlabul, was, for a time, a place of bachelors.

Walter T. Falltop, “The Yank”, owned a power of land at the head of the creek. No-one knows where he came from, just the USA. He was generally even-tempered, but when crossed by man, beast or machinery he would declare to the heavens, “Don’t want no turd from you, big bird, you Yankee great son of a bitch!”, then mildly resume his activity.

Not for Walter the burbling stream. He’d only drink from stagnant pools. “By gee that’s good waterrrr!” Perhaps not surprisingly, he died of food poisoning.

Charlie Munton, who fled the three-legged, bob-tailed cats of the Isle of Man for this “Place of Women” (Manxes for minxes?), was no snappy conversationalist. His contribution, no matter what the subject, usually amounted to, “Mmmm, ahhhh…mmm, ahhh… mmm, ahhh!” punctuated by puffs on his pipe. Perhaps he’d been raised by a Manx minx of a mother who never let him get a word in edgewise. It’s fascinating to ponder, and lots of fun to mess around with the whole Manx thing.

Charlie earned notoriety because of his Manxian (What? What?) fencing methods. A low-set specimen, he’d set the height of posts by the top button on his flannel shirt. One day he snapped up a bargain at the Baryulgil Store. The flannel was two sizes larger than his usual fit, but the price was too low to ignore.

Sadly, Charlie failed to recalibrate. His top button was now four inches lower, and this resulted in a pygmy fence line.

Bachelors fall into one of two camps, laundry-wise, washing either every day or once a month, if ever. Charlie was a second-camper, so the pygmy fence progressed across the landscape for another three weeks before the old flannel came on line again.

The bachelors came up with their own bush telegraph. Using the old light the kero-soaked string then dunk it in cold water method, they cracked the bases off some longnecked bottles and honked them like didges, in turn, at sunset to signal that all was well. If you heard a Louis Armstrong number being butchered, you’d know your mate had hit the rum early.

There were two Polish loggers (yep, bachelors): Walter the Pole and Karl (you guessed it) the Pole. Walter was, for some reason, a dab hand at surgery. Just as well, because he seemed to regularly limp down to Charlie Walton’s place with half his calf, thigh, forearm or ear hanging off after the slip of an axe to inquire politely, “Charleeeeee, oh Charleeeee. Might you haf please some of your nice cotton to lend, as I haff bin inserting all of mine through ziss wound with some more yet to go (flourishes dripping wound).

But perhaps the special-est bachelor in the valley was Jerry Thorn. He wasn’t so much aggressive as impatient. If a billy wouldn’t boil in a timely fashion he’d shoot it.

“So, you’ll not be boilin’ then? Cop this!” (Bang!)

Or, if a damper was a bit slow to rise, he’d shoot it.

“So, you’d see me half-starved from the waitin’ would you? Well cop this while we’re waitin’!” (Bang! Bang!) “Ammo! Friggin’ ammo!” (Bang!)

It was only a .22, but a .22 is usually enough to seriously injure a billy or damper, that’s for sure, and neighbours generally declined any dinner invitations.

Charlie Walton lent him two quid one time to help him settle an extensive account at the store (for ammo). After two months and no repayment Charlie rode up to front Jerry.

“Morning, Jerry.”

“If anyone ever asked me for money, I’d shoot them!”

“Words to live by, Jerry.” (Spurs horse and departs at pace)

Johnny Ham rode up the creek one day and waved to Jerry, who was sitting on his front step. He got no response.

That evening Johnny rode back down the creek and past the hut. The hut was now facing the other way, away from the track. Jerry had walled up the front door, cut an opening on the opposite wall and shifted the steps.

“What’s going on, mate?”

“ I couldn’t stand one more day of all the friggin’ traffic!”

“Fair enough.”

“And I’ll tell you another thing. I never take giblets for granted!”

A lesson to us all.


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