Australiana [15 January 1936]

[Editor: These items are from the “Australiana” column published in The World’s News (Sydney, NSW), 15 January 1936.]


The hairless horse
Whenever I try to tell the truth about the hairless horse of Queensland the audience walks away without a word — politely, but definitely. Nevertheless, the facts remain. For years along the Balonne River (Q.) there had been weird stories of a hairless horse running wild, until, finally, an organised round-up-one of many resulted in the freak being yarded with a mob of brumbies. It was a beautiful animal, full of intelligence and courage. There was not a single hair on its skin. Standing still, it looked for all the world like a model moulded from black and glossy indiarubber. Don’t know what became of it. — Jogalong.

Secret of the bush
Although the discovery of two skeletons in the bed of a creek near Cania Gold Diggings, in the Gladstone district (Q.) is credited with having solved the disappearance of a murderer and his victim, there is still much doubt whether the bodies are those of George Daniells, a quarter-caste stockman, and Edith Anderson, a daughter of the then lighthouse keeper at Bustard Head.

When Arthur Cogzell, an 18-year-old youth, and Edith Anderson failed to turn up at the girl’s home at Bustard Head, a search was made and the dying youth with two bullet wounds in his body was found on the banks of Turkey Creek, shark-infested tidal water.

Cogzell’s horse and Edith Anderson’s pony were found feeding nearby, while across the creek 30 yards away the horse of George Daniells, a native of Murray’s Creek, was found hitched to a tree, at the butt of which a handkerchief, 5 .32 calibre rifle shells, and a pocket knife were found.

Daniells had often boasted of his intention to take Edith Anderson and clear out to Northern or Western Queensland and three bullet marks found in a gum tree near the scene of the tragedy, told the story of Daniells’s wait for Cogzell and the girl, during which he practised his marksmanship before turning the rifle on Cogzell, the two bullet wounds in the unfortunate youth’s body, accounting for the other two empty shells.

No trace of Daniells and the girl was ever found, and the discovery of the two skeletons in Cania Creek over 100 miles from the scene of the cold-blooded shooting, tends to strengthen the belief then put forward by police investigators that Daniells, who knew every inch of the district, to throw pursuers off the scent, left the horses behind and escaped with the girl on foot. The crime happened in 1912. For nearly three months police searchers and volunteers from surrounding stations combed every inch of the bush over a radius of fifty miles. — Abboc.

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Wistaria and snakes
The wistaria that is such a feature of the old Wentworth home is well advertised in its blooming season; but whilst everybody knows that Captain Brown Hayes brought soil from Ireland to keep snakes away from his Vaucluse mansion, few people are aware that it was the first wistaria that was planted in that soil — said, incidentally, to have proved quite effective. The plant was then known as glycina, its name in Portugal, its native country. In the sixties, an American, Colonel Wistar, brought some plants back to the U.S.A. and named them Wistaria, after himself; under that name they became popular all over the world. Still, in California, where the vine has been grown against the adobe walls of old Spanish houses for 200 years, glycina it remains; and the “glyciny vines” mentioned in some old Sydney writings (one I have particularly in mind refers to a fine growth around a Glebe Point mansion) are merely the modern wistaria. — H.M.

Ship Ahoy == Cooee!
Perhaps the only ship to carry the unique distinction of getting lost in the bush is the Jane Eliza, which used to be very well known along the Murray. It achieved this fame because the skipper, the Murray-famous Hughie King, thought that navigation was also bushcraft. Delivering stores along the river in high flood, he conceived the brilliant idea of taking short cuts across country, so avoiding all the bends in the river course. But getting back into the channel was another story, and King was sailing among the gum-tree tops looking for light. … A hearty hail from a tree-top revealed a stranded swaggie, who in return for a passage to safety worked his bushcraft to show the Jane Eliza the way out of the wood. It was the only time Hughie tried to navigate bullock-tracks. — Orphan.

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Brobdingnagian beech
“Wayback’s” blue-gum “lead-pencil” was, I reckon, felled through an ant colliding with it. Now, outside Milla Milla (N.Q.), a beech tree lies on the roadway. It is hollow right through. A man for a wager set out to crawl through from end to end. There was a drought on when he entered the log. When he reached the other end heavy floods were sweeping the country. The drought lasted three months. Yes, I know where liars go when they die. — Barri Mundi.

Tasmania’s Kurnell
The unveiling of a Paterson Memorial at George Town in Northern Tasmania has just taken place. It was the 131st anniversary of the island’s official annexation to the Empire. Because the French looked covetously at the Southern isle Colonel William Paterson, acting Governor of N.S.W., landed at George Town on December 28, 1804, and hoisted the Union Jack, making the country a recognised British colony. Tasmania had, of course, already been visited by Matthew Flinders, in 1798; and Bowen had, a year before Paterson’s visit, made a first settlement at the Derwent. The George Town Memorial just unveiled is a beautiful and fitting perpetuation of the island’s “official opening,” and this spot is destined to become the Kurnell of Tasmania. — True.

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Binghi’s Bingee
Binghi in northern localities where food is plentiful makes every occasion the pretext of a huge communal feast, and giant gastronomic feats are accomplished at such gatherings. A village of 500 natives, in the course of a tribal feast, will demolish three dugong, each 3cwt. in bulk, half a dozen turtle, 5001b. of flour made into a huge damper, hundreds of turtle eggs, with a wealth of taro and yams. Hordes of trevally freshly speared from the reefs and meat from the clam shells add a spice to this gargantuan diet. One can actually see the abdomens of the children distending to aldermanic proportions as they eat.—Seeker.

Queer receipt
Pressed for settlement of a debt, a South Coast (Q.) farmer surprised his creditor by surrendering payment on the spot and demanding the receipt at the same time. The settlement took place on the farm ,and having no receipt book or paper of any kind between them, the creditor made out the receipt on his own starched collar, fortunately having a duty stamp in his wallet.—Kingsley T.

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Lawson’s driving force
There can be no doubt that the earliest seeds of literary interests were sown in the famous Henry Lawson’s mind by his mother, Louisa Albury. She had gipsy blood and a fighting spirit; and when as Mrs. Lawson (or Larsen) she had partnered her Norwegian husband through failure after failure, she turned from a non-paying boarding-house to — journalism! And more remarkable, succeeded! Her effort at starting the “Republican” in 1887 led to the feminist organ “Dawn,” which she founded in 1888 and ran until 1905, when she burst into metre with “The Lonely Crossing, and other poems.” That work took on, and was republished in 1909. In the meantime, in 1898, while “Dawn” was going strong, she had founded “Young Australia,” and her son Henry, who had helped her with the “Republican” and “Dawn,” had published a book of verse in 1894. All that he developed fully in his lifetime of literary achievement had its rudiments in his uncrushable mother. She died in 1920, only two years before her immortal son. — W.O.

Snakebite by proxy
In Numurkah, Victoria, I once knew a man who nearly died of a second-hand snakebite. While chopping wood his brother was bitten. He dealt with the matter as laid down in the book of rules, and left for the town. Dr. Harbison examined him, and informed him that so promptly had the bite been handled that he was in no danger. Shortly afterwards a brother went out to finish chopping the load of wood. Noting the amputated finger-end he picked it up, and inspected it curiously, meanwhile ignoring the bites of the clustering ants. On the way into town he commenced to feel ill, and divining his trouble, he mounted the hack and galloped. The same doctor informed him that he suffered from symptoms of snakebite, and treated him successfully. Plainly the ant-bites had injected snake-poison from the severed finger-top. — Hayband.

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Link with other days
Eighty-year-old Robert Cracknell is still going strong, one of Tasmania’s hardiest sons. When he celebrated his birthday recently he was remembered as one of the island’s pioneer whalers, who started as a boy of fifteen, and within two years was recognised as the youngest steersman in Australian waters. He was actively occupied in whaling until, after fifty, he took a waterman’s licence, and worked on until he was 73. He is the oldest holder of the Royal Humane Society’s bronze medal, which he won at the age of 70, by dragging a drowning boy from the river. — Tube.

The World’s News (Sydney, NSW), 15 January 1936, pp. 12-13

Editor’s notes:
brumbies = plural of “brumby”: a wild horse, a feral horse; can also have a negative meaning, referring to a horse which is regarded as inferior or worthless

clear out = depart, leave, move; clear off, go away

hack = horse; a horse for general hire; a horse used for general work purposes; a worn-out horse

indiarubber = natural rubber, crude rubber (also spelt as two words: india rubber)

Kurnell = a beachside suburb of Sydney (New South Wales), located to the south of the city; it was the first landing place in Australia of explorer James Cook

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