The Bush Christening (On the Outer Barcoo)

Sunday, Oct 06, 2013 at 23:42

Baz - The Landy

Story & Photos: Baz – The Landy

Rivers, creeks, and billabongs have a way of drawing you in, somewhat like a divining rod in search of water.

Australia has a wonderful maze of inland river systems, which, at times dry up leaving waterholes, or billabongs, as we know them…

They feature heavily in stories and poems, songs and prose, of the Australian Outback.

Recently we camped beside a billabong, nearby to the Darling River, one of Australia’s largest, which slowly meanders its way towards a confluence with the mighty Murray River at Wentworth.

Steamboats plied their trade along the river as far north as Bourke, carrying supplies to the towns that dotted the Darling, transporting wool bales back to the cities on the return trip. Of course, drought, of which there were many, could see the boats stranded for long periods of time.

This land attracted many writers, inspired by the wide open spaces of the Australian Outback, and included Henry Lawson, whom I wrote about recently, and Banjo Paterson.



They are two of my favourite Australian writers.

Simply, their writings are timeless, despite both passing long-ago, you can sit by a billabong or a river and hear the echo of the men, and women, they wrote about, the friendly banter, the sorrow, the laughs, the tears, the highs and the lows.

Both men travelled extensively in some of my favourite parts of the Australian Outback.

One such place is the Barcoo River, nearby to the town of Jundah and the Welford National Park in far western-Queensland. A small town of not too many people, where the pub, owned and operated by Monica, is the go to place to hear news, a social epicentre for the area.



Lawson and Paterson, parched from travelling the dusty land, would have quenched their thirst at establishments just like the Jundah Pub!

Banjo Paterson was especially inspired by the Barcoo and surrounding area.

We travelled to this area to visit the site of Maggee’s Shanty and Richard Magoffin’s Grave which were not too far from Jundah and the Welford National Park. Those familiar with the writing’s of Banjo Paterson will recognise this is the place immortalised in his poem A Bush Christening.



The grave of Richard Magoffin, who perished in 1885, is nearby.

Magoffin came to Australia from County Down in Ireland in 1853, digging for gold in Victoria and fighting at Eureka. Later he settled with a brother at Chiltern, Victoria, before moving to Bourke, where they sank dams and ran a carting business before tough times sent them further north, to Queensland.

There was very little to see of Maggee’s Shanty, although a plaque indicated its site, but Magoffin’s Grave was very well kept.

And under darkened skies, with the threat of rain present, we huddled together at the site of Maggee’s Shanty, and read…

"The Bush Christening – By AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson"

As a footnote… “The Landy” came about as a consequence of owning three Land Rover Defenders, but as you can see this has now changed and yes, I've recovered fully! And whilst I'm reluctant to refer to the new vehicle as “The Landy” that’s for sure; the owners’ of either brand would never forgive me!

But “The Landy” reference has stuck, so “The Landy” it is…

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
“Those who don’t think
it can be done shouldn’t
bother the person doing it…”
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