[A back block lockup; a baker’s liquid fine] [12 October 1904]

[Editor: Two reminiscences from “Werrimee”, a contributor to the “By the way” column of The Australian Town and Country Journal, 12 October 1904.]

“Werrimee:” Ernest Favenc’s yarn concerning back block lockups, recalls a somewhat similar incident that occurred on a Queensland racecourse, not very far from Adavale.

There was only one trooper on the course, and, when he arrested two obstreperous persons, having no place in which to confine them for the time being, he chained them to a fair-sized log behind the booth, with the intention of taking them into town when the races were over, or releasing them, if they were then sufficiently law-abiding to be at large.

It was a blistering hot, day, and the thirst of the prisoners soon grew to be unbearable, being aggravated by the gurgle of liquor through the brush wall that separated them from the bar. No one heeded their shouts and solicitations; their friends were too interested in the sports.

At last, during the progress of a race, they hoisted the lockup on their shoulders, one at each end, and, staggering round to the front, banged it down on the bar. “God’s sake, give’s a beer,” cried one. “Bucketful,” added the other. They drank their beers, saw the race out, had more beer, then shouldered their lockup again, and hurried back with it before the trooper returned.

In a Richmond River town, 20 years ago, the officer in charge used to be taken home, by a back way, about three nights a week by the baker. The latter came from the same part of the old country as he did, and had been “somebody” in his time. One night “he” got paralytic, and the trooper locked him up so that he would be sober enough in the morning to get his bread out. He released him at daylight with the remark, “Ye’re fined two drinks, Jack. But ye can have one of them yeself.” He then went with him to see that he paid the fine to the publican! The trooper had the other drink.

The Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW), 12 October 1904, p. 28

Editor’s notes:
obstreperous = being aggressively noisy and boisterous, or unruly and difficult to control

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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