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BobJ Reminiscing...

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Cooking...A day in the life of a camp cook in 1964 in the West Kimberley, about 46 km out of Broome.

The cook went on a bender and I was roped to cook for 17 blokes until a new cook could be found. Boss says "can you cook?" I say, "no, but I can boil a kettle."

4.15 AM get up, light the hurricane lamp, head over to the 'cookhouse', a tin shed with a wood stove and 3 'fridges. light the fire in the stove, and prepare 6 dozen eggs, 50 bacon rashers, 1 dozen tomatoes and 2 loaves of bread. Put the 2 gallon kettle on the stove and prepare brekkie. Then put out 4 loaves of bread, yesterdays cold roast beef, 2 rolls of luncheon meat, 2 trays of cake, various jams etc for the blokes to make their "cribs" for the day.

5.15 AM, bang on the grader blade for the blokes to 'come and get it'.

After they have gone, wash up, put away the gear and begin making another 2 trays of cakes for the morrow and a couple of big bowls of jelly and a bowl of custard for teatime.

8 AM boss comes in to do his bookwork and has a couple of mugs of tea. Put another kettle on to simmer for any travellers who might be passing through.

10 AM take the axe and cut up more firewood for the rest of the day.

11 AM welcome the station manager from Roebuck Downs with a couple of cakes and a mug of tea 'cos he just brought in a half side of beef for the camp and asks if the grader operator can "do" the station track. All sorted out.:yes:

 

12 noon, butcher the meat...nay, hack the thing to manageable sizes and put 2 big pieces out for tea and cut lunch for the next day's cribs.

1 PM peel a squillion spuds, prepare carrots, and pumpkin that came from the camp garden just below the shower shed.

3 PM take out the cake trays start slow roasting the beef and vegies for tea at 6 PM

3.20 PM the camp truck comes back from firewood foraging, so got to give the truckie a hand., then cut the wood for the morrow.

4 PM get a shower and prepare the tables for teatime.

6 PM bang the grader blade for tea... Get the usual kind words..."Who called the cook a bast**d" and "who called the bast**d a cook?"

7 PM wash up and ask the boss about the grader work for the station manager...

 

Did that for 3 bl**dy weeks. And this innocent lad of 23 years of age had just been in Australia for 13 months.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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A bit more to that...The 'new' cook arrived, he came straight out from Broome jail! Not the menacing type, but the sly type, he was. His first week was quite impressive, with fish recipes, spag bol etc but the food bill for the blokes started going up and up. My 3 weeks cost the blokes £7/1/8 a week. the 'new' cook's fares cost uo to £12 a week. Found out after a while that he was selling the camp meat in Broome.Needless to say, he was sent off on his merry way and a thoroughly good cook joined us. He got the costs down again and made the blokes happy again.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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Cooking...A day in the life of a camp cook in 1964 in the West Kimberley, about 46 km out of Broome.

The cook went on a bender and I was roped to cook for 17 blokes until a new cook could be found. Boss says "can you cook?" I say, "no, but I can boil a kettle."

4.15 AM get up, light the hurricane lamp, head over to the 'cookhouse', a tin shed with a wood stove and 3 'fridges. light the fire in the stove, and prepare 6 dozen eggs, 50 bacon rashers, 1 dozen tomatoes and 2 loaves of bread. Put the 2 gallon kettle on the stove and prepare brekkie. Then put out 4 loaves of bread, yesterdays cold roast beef, 2 rolls of luncheon meat, 2 trays of cake, various jams etc for the blokes to make their "cribs" for the day.

5.15 AM, bang on the grader blade for the blokes to 'come and get it'.

After they have gone, wash up, put away the gear and begin making another 2 trays of cakes for the morrow and a couple of big bowls of jelly and a bowl of custard for teatime.

8 AM boss comes in to do his bookwork and has a couple of mugs of tea. Put another kettle on to simmer for any travellers who might be passing through.

10 AM take the axe and cut up more firewood for the rest of the day.

11 AM welcome the station manager from Roebuck Downs with a couple of cakes and a mug of tea 'cos he just brought in a half side of beef for the camp and asks if the grader operator can "do" the station track. All sorted out.:yes:

 

12 noon, butcher the meat...nay, hack the thing to manageable sizes and put 2 big pieces out for tea and cut lunch for the next day's cribs.

1 PM peel a squillion spuds, prepare carrots, and pumpkin that came from the camp garden just below the shower shed.

3 PM take out the cake trays start slow roasting the beef and vegies for tea at 6 PM

3.20 PM the camp truck comes back from firewood foraging, so got to give the truckie a hand., then cut the wood for the morrow.

4 PM get a shower and prepare the tables for teatime.

6 PM bang the grader blade for tea... Get the usual kind words..."Who called the cook a bast**d" and "who called the bast**d a cook?"

7 PM wash up and ask the boss about the grader work for the station manager...

 

Did that for 3 bl**dy weeks. And this innocent lad of 23 years of age had just been in Australia for 13 months.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Great post Bob as usual, the youth of today really don't know how easy they have it do they! I bet you had no aircon whilst you cooked over the stove :wink:


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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Great post Bob as usual, the youth of today really don't know how easy they have it do they! I bet you had no aircon whilst you cooked over the stove :wink:

 

Lotsa loud guffaws, Katie. The mess hut/camp kitchen was a fourby frame, wire mesh mossy net and a corrugated tin roof. Where the wood stove and fridges were, was a wooden wall, perhaps 20 ft long. The foreman insisted that the outside of the wooden wall have corrugated tin. Oh, and a concrete floor.

There were 22 concrete pads for the tents, a concrete slab some 100 ft away with a tin shed that housed the 1 cyl generator (Lights on at 5.15 AM and lights out 10 PM. The 'fridges were all kero and were better than some modern ones.) and a corrugated tin shed for the showers. The very good garden, watered by the grey shower water had spuds, beans, peas, carrots, cabbages, tomatoes, watermelons, rock melons, pumpkins and a couple of chilli bushes.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

 

PS. Wonder how the kids of today would handle that???:err:

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Hi Bob, jus finished a really good book by Len Beadlle about the making of the gunbarrell highway and others, did it the hard way .

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Hi Bob, jus finished a really good book by Len Beadlle about the making of the gunbarrell highway and others, did it the hard way .

 

 

A good bloke, Len Beadell. Heard a few of his exploits while I was in the Kimberlies, but never met the man.

Yes, those are the blokes who did it the hard way. None of this "puncing around" in those days...:no:

 

Cheers, Bobj.

 

PS. Now you can see why I get 'pinged offski' by those who, as Johndoe so eloquently remarked, "wallow in self pity".

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Guest mustangauci

i was involved in track laying in the north west of australia,photo of joe ferron tie amatic,would like to contact whitecrow

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Just read the entire thread in one sitting.

 

Remarkable BobJ, absolutely fascinating. Is there more?

 

'A Tenners Tale' would be an apt name for a book Bob.

 

Respect.

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Just read the entire thread in one sitting.

 

Remarkable BobJ, absolutely fascinating. Is there more?

 

'A Tenners Tale' would be an apt name for a book Bob.

 

Respect.

 

Many thanks for the kind words, mate. Sadly, the memory box is getting a bit cluttered at the moment...:wink:

When I remember some more of the good things, I'll jot them down.:yes:

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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Many thanks for the kind words, mate. Sadly, the memory box is getting a bit cluttered at the moment...:wink:

When I remember some more of the good things, I'll jot them down.:yes:

 

Cheers, Bobj.

 

I thought all that omega 3 from the Barra was supposed to be good for the brain?

 

Keep em coming Bob....good uns and bad uns.

 

Cheers

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I thought all that omega 3 from the Barra was supposed to be good for the brain?

 

Keep em coming Bob....good uns and bad uns.

 

Cheers

 

Just remembered a story from 1978...

 

Pommy mate of mine at "White City", the Main Roads mobile caravan camp, parked some 30 km north of Hall's Creek, WA. went with another pommy mate on a gold prospect ...Jack, the other pommy, was notorious for telling lies and said that the two of them were going to so-and-so for a few hours.

Next day, no one turned up, so we contacted the police. A search was set up and no one was found. The next day, two very dishevelled and thirsty pommies wondered into the Hall's Creek cop shop. Seems that these two prize pommy twits went in the opposite direction. They had camped in the bottom of a small gully and as evening approached, decided to put the headlights on to give them light to see while they dry sieved for gold...They got so carried away with the 'prospecting' that the battery went flat!!

They spent the rest of the night camped in the gully and next morn, (when we were searching 50 km north of them), they tried to push start the 4wd. in the bottom of the gully??? Anyway, they had to walk out and spent the next night looking at the lights of Hall's Creek from a distance of 10 km. When they got to the cop shop, the police sargeant gave them a good talking to. As it was towards the end of winter, they were fortunate that they did not perish, as the nights were quite cool and the days only to 25 C. Had that happened in summer, no doubt they would have perished...And all because Jack didn't want anyone to know where they went IF they had won any gold...

Last laugh... The police sargeant took them back to retrieve the 4wd and, on learning the whereabouts of the 4wd told them that the particular creek they were in was one of the few where nuggets were found and that the old timers had cleaned out the creek...in 1887.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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A couple of characters I knew in the Kimberlies ca 1968 and 1975:

1st bloke was a timekeeper from Nicholson Station (border of WA and NT.) and got the sack for 'meddling' with the young Aboriginal girls. Well he got a job with the Main Roads at one of the camps down towards Hall's Creek at a place close to the present day turn off to the Argyle Diamond Mine. As he had a good name with the local pub, he wrote out a cheque to buy some beer and sent it with the town supply truckie. Beer then was $10 per carton and he wanted 2 cartons, so, he made out the cheque, but was a bit inebriated and instead of writing $20.00 he forgot the all important dot...200 cartons were sent to the camp.

I heard that he sold 150 for $15/carton.

 

Second bloke was a grader operator who liked the Aboriginal girls. One day Jo, who was working at the Kununurra hospital had to help sew his scrotum together. Seems he dabbled with the sister of his 'current love' and the 'current love' got a teensy bit upset, so took to him with a carving knife.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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Guest hirail45

Worked on the paraburdoo and the robe, operating track machines. mode of transport was the back of trucks. did some 6 months to finish the robe job, had some fun and some scary episodes. Left 7 mile to go to the greenvale job.

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Whichway1 started a thread re apps and listening to the radio...It reminded me of my 'tent life' in the early 1960s in the West Kimberley. We all had a radio of sorts, no AM/FM in those days, just plain old short wave etc. At night we could get anywhere in the world...well just about, IF we had a big home made aerial; a contraption of copper wire nailed on a cross of wood and 'spiralled' around about 8 to 10 times and stuck outside the tent. One of the favourite programmes was the Indonesian 'Family Favourites', well, that's what we thought it was. I remember the countless times we would, on weekends, greet each other with phrases gleaned from that show. The most common were, 'glombang glombang' and 'suderra suderra'. No idea what they meant, but as we passed each other to and from the mess block, we would call out one of the phrases and nod wisely...:laugh:

Radio Moscow would come in very clear from 6 PM, so too was Radio Luxembourg, but only saturday nights.

Of course, Radio Australia blared away every evening but we could only pick up the many Indonesian programmes during the day.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

 

PS. No tv in the Kimberlies, no computers, no cell phones etc etc. in those days. Spent most of our weekends just washing the clothes and sheets etc and lazing around and listening to the radios, or reading.

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I have just read this whole thread at once - great stories Bob J - thanks! I hope you keep them coming

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Well all the stuff I was 'going-to-do' this morning just got forgotten......as I just couldn't stop reading.....

Absolutely fabulous Bob.....am about to add 'six bags of jelly-babies' to my shopping list 'cos I wanna be on your list of autographed copies of your book ! :notworthy:

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Having a chin-wag with some neighbours this morning; they are avid snorkelers/spear fishos and were regaling us with tales of their encounters with giant manta rays off Gloucester Island, near Bowen, Qld. It got me thinking to some of the things I came across in my early days in this unique land.

I well remember the tiny quokkers on Rottnest Island, off Fremantle, WA and how they would hide under the wooden units during the day. They were the first of the many macropods I was to see in so many varied landforms, from deserts to cities and hills to plains. Even saw some rather rare rock wallabies.

My first sortie to the north of WA was with 2 brothers. We went from Perth to Broome and on to the Darwin, down to Port Augusta and over the then unpaved nullabor back to Perth. That was april to July 1964. From Perth, the bitumen ended at Carnarvon and commenced again at the Katherine. The Darwin down to the Alice was bitumen then it was a dirt road from there to Port Augusta and on to Penong, After that, the nullabor was all dirt on to Balladonia. From there back to Perth was bitumen.

We camped each night on the side of the road, a spread out tarp and our swags, with a large mossie net over us.

We camped at Monkey Mia, but it had no name in those days, the area was just known as Shark Bay and the only hamlet was Denham, which consisted of a small seasonal prawn processing building, about 8 houses and a long jetty.

At Carnarvon, we tried for work but there were no jobs and so we headed to Onslow...The most cyclone prone town in WA, probably Australia. It was built and rebuilt quite a few times since its beginnings in 1883.

Karratha, in those days (1964) was only a cattle and sheep property, Dampier was just a tiny hamlet of a few fishing shacks and there were no iron ore trains. The Pilbara was one huge empty red rock semi desert. We called in at Karratha stn for fuel and were told of a beautiful natural pool called Python Pool. It was truly a beautiful spot in that intensely red country.

Port Hedland was a 2 pub sleepy village of about 150 houses, but a new iron ore mine had just been discovered and proven at Mount Goldsworthy, some 100 miles north east and a few houses were being built for the new rail and port workers.

We spent 3 days at 80 Mile Beach, between Port Hedland and Broome, fishing and shell collecting. Some marvellous shells were along the red sand tide marks.

Broome and work for 5 weeks, building the new meatworks. Our camp was on the town beach, overlooking the old jetty. When the State ships called in and the tide went out, we could walk around the ships, and see the propellors as the ships sat on the sand. We managed, on one occasion, to walk out to the remains of the flying boats that were shot down by the Japanese during the war. It was said that one of the planes had a valuable cargo of diamonds. Many years later, I learned the truth of that story.

The planes were a group of Short Sunderland flying boats that flew from the Dutch Indies and was followed by a flight of Japanese fighter planes and all the flying boats made it to Broome and were in the harbour area, about 1 mile out when the Japs opened fire on the defenceless planes, setting them alight at their moorings. And yes, Broome was bombed in 1942. The diamond cargo flying boat was on another flight and was shot down near the Beagle Bay Mission. I have heard a few stories of diamonds being found, but after about 20 years, these stories became myth.

 

More later, from Broome to the Northern Territory, hey?

 

Cheers, Bobj.

What a great read. Thanks. I caught a fish on 80 milre beach and colected shells wich I still have in a picture frame on mywall. Great memories.


Be careful.....I might bite:shocked:

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Come on Bob we are waiting for the next installment :wink:


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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Come on Bob we are waiting for the next installment :wink:

 

Err...ummm...The old grey matter needs a smack to remember those times again.

 

Got one; Simon was a young bloke at the laboratory where I worked in Kununurra. He was told to go to Hall's Creek and get some soil samples from a new stockpile...And he had to take me, 'cos I knew the area and he didn't. Off we go, a 4 hour drive and about 3 hours into the drive, we pulled up where a carton of potato chippies had fallen off a wagon. We picked them up and a few ks further were 2 more cartons, lollies strewn along the road. We picked those up and the young lad was munching on lollies and chippies like he owned the factory. Another couple of clicks and another carton or two, which we picked up. Almost at Hall's Creek and we came upon the wagon. The driver was trying to get the rest of his wares into the back of his van. As we pulled up, Simon dashed out of the forby and promptly did a technicolour yawn on the road...Apparently, bouncing along for a great distance while gorging on chippies and lollies somehow turned his tum.

We gave the bloke what was good enough to sell and proceeded on our way.

 

Turned out that the young lad had over imbibed the night before...

 

Anothery...Fishing...Was looking for a waterhole on the Dunham River (East Kimberley) in order to waterbind the northern abutments for the new bridge and came across the tiniest pool, about the size of a car...You know how it is...I always had a rod and reel in the forby, just in case...Well, the ginger beers turned a blind eye to it.:laugh: Flicked a cast and whammo! a barra about a foot long latched on. As it was the start to the wet, this fish had been in the pool for about 8 months and was the blackest barra I ever caught. Released it quickly and marvelled that it managed to stay alive in that tiny pool. About 3 km further downstream I found water but it was used by Dunham River Stn for the cattle. We eventually had to drill a well.

 

A year earlier and there was water to spare at the old crossing, some 500 metres downstream

 

Some 2 years later, the station got permission from the WA Govt. to build a dam on a small creek about 2 km north of the bridge site for a pilot agricultural scheme.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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Anothery, seeing the water drilling reminded me...

We were waterbinding about 80 km north of Hall's Creek, East Kimberley and I had to look for waterholes again. No luck so we drilled 2 x 6" bores at the side of the road in strategic places, dig 2 ,turkey nests' and line them to hold the water from the bores.

After a couple of months of this, we found about 20 magpie geese strutting their stuff on the banks of each turkey nest. Where they came from, where they went, no one knew but they decided it was good enough for a camp. The Main Roads donated the bores, minus the pumps, to the local cattle station, Springvale, home of Tom Quilty, one of the most significant pastoralists in the Kimberlies. (I wrote earlier about him). It was about 8 km from the northern bore that I found a silver 1917 shilling out in the backblocks; no doubt from the pocket of some forgotten station hand many years earlier as it was blackened by the sun.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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Guest Ptp113

What about South Australia eg Coober Pedy or Woomera even?

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What about South Australia eg Coober Pedy or Woomera even?

 

Only passed through Woomera, as we were, well, the 2 brothers I was with, were very homesick! But I seem to remember that there were quite a few signs along the road warning people not to stray off the road and I remember some sort of checkpoint at, or just before the town. Stayed in Cooper Pedy 1 night and never again! It was freezing cold. Did look at a few old mullock heaps and found stacks of potch but no colour at all and found a very nice piece of gypsum, which I still have.

Out in the gibber desert, one of the brothers got caught short and being slightly prudish, took the trusty spade and dunny roll a couple of kms from us...No trees to hide behind.

Amazing place, that gibber desert. It is as though a couple of million tonnes of pebbles had been washed and polished then hand placed over a vast area. Bugga!! Can't remember exactly where that was, north, or south of Coober Pedy.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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Guest Ptp113
Only passed through Woomera, as we were, well, the 2 brothers I was with, were very homesick! But I seem to remember that there were quite a few signs along the road warning people not to stray off the road and I remember some sort of checkpoint at, or just before the town. Stayed in Cooper Pedy 1 night and never again! It was freezing cold. Did look at a few old mullock heaps and found stacks of potch but no colour at all and found a very nice piece of gypsum, which I still have.

Out in the gibber desert, one of the brothers got caught short and being slightly prudish, took the trusty spade and dunny roll a couple of kms from us...No trees to hide behind.

Amazing place, that gibber desert. It is as though a couple of million tonnes of pebbles had been washed and polished then hand placed over a vast area. Bugga!! Can't remember exactly where that was, north, or south of Coober Pedy.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

 

Called the donga at Woomera. Oldest land on the planet and it shows.

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My first job in Australia, October 1963 in Smellbum. Being a qualified woolclasser, I got work in the big Dalgety woolshed in Altona and one day I mentioned poisonous snakes to an old wag. "Sure, there are lots of tiger snakes in that paddock, bet you can't walk over to the fence and back." Being a newchum, I took up the challenge; the paddock was overgrown with grass to knee height and I walked to the fence and back, much to his annoyance. Didn't tell him I knew to stamp my feet all the way.:wink:

 

Many years later in Glen Innes, NSW, I was to use that ploy when fishing for trout along the Beardy Waters Ck. One day I came across 11 tiger snakes in the space of 3 hours.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

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