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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:29 pm

'The Drover' - Page 58:

Rose grinned and looked at Harry. She was beautiful, her hair flatten by the rain tucked under the akubra hat, her smile delicious and warm, ‘why did you say about moving the last one first, it doesn’t make sense.’ She said.
‘If we’d moved the last one, first, then we wouldn’t have needed to move it again – would we.’
‘You’re stupid.’
The mob moved to higher ground and walked along the stock route. Harry mounted his horse and whistled the dogs to keep the mob heading south. The rain stopped, the sun broke through the clouds. They were one day from finishing the drive.
Before he delivered the sheep he needed to count them to ensure the correct number was there for delivery. Harry’s way of counting sheep was unique. He rode to the front of the mob with Rose.
‘Ted and Henry - Rose and I will count the sheep along the next fence. You two push them up with the dogs.’ He commanded.
The stock route was positioned parallel to the main highway from Cunnamulla to Bourke. A stock fence divided the highway on the outskirts of Bourke. This was an opportune place to count the sheep. He instructed Rose to stand opposite him.
He took a box of matches from his pocket and emptied the contents.
‘Put these matches in one hand and when I call out a number; place one of the matches into your pocket.’ She took the matches in her left hand.
‘Send them up.’ Harry called to the others. The sheep moved toward Harry and Rose who stood opposite one another to form a funnel to let the sheep move between them.
When a number of sheep rushed through the gap, Harry called out, ‘one’ and continued to count to himself, each time he called the number ‘one’ Rose placed a match into her top shirt pocket.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:37 pm

'The Drover' - Page 57:

After eating a hearty meal they sat around the camp fire to yarn. It started to rain, heavier and heavier the drops hit the tarpaulin swiftly running off the edges forming a river on the ground.
‘What about we go to bed, I can’t hear anything you’re saying.’ Harry said. Everybody retired to their swags in the back of the truck.
What was it about sleeping in a warm swag in the back of a truck under a tarpaulin listening to the pitter patter of rain? Harry thought. Is it a feeling of safety being out of the rain, or is it a feeling of contentment and warmth? Before he could count sheep his eyes closed and his dreams surfaced of Rose. If there was a heaven it was close by.
By morning the rain persisted. Lucky Henry parked the truck on high ground because where the sheep were housed was a flood. Water gushed through their legs across the black soil. Their wool was short having recently been shorn and it was the job of Harry, Ted and Rose to move the sheep to higher ground.
‘Open the brake Ted and let em out, there’ll be a few weak ones but we’ll need to carry them to higher ground’. The rain lashed their faces and wind blew hard. Many of the sheep escaped from their night camp leaving twenty to slug their way through the rain and black soil. Ten sheep bogged to their hocks.
Harry was on foot and beside him Rose slushed her way through the black soil and the torrid rain. They worked together grabbing hold of each wether, one by one, man handled it to force it onto higher ground to join its mates.
‘One gone and nine left.’ Harry shouted through the wind and rain toward Rose when the first one struck higher ground.
Whilst Harry manhandled the head of the wether, Rose held onto the rear end and pushed each sheep with her shoulder, one by one crawled their way to higher ground until the last one was about to join the mob, ‘we should have moved this one first.’ Harry said with a smile on his face.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:39 pm

'The Drover' - Page 56:

They were two days from the final leg of their trip when storm cloud darkened the sky. ‘We’re in for a good one – look at those clouds building in the east, that’s where the bad storms come from.’ Harry told the others.
‘Whata want to do Boss?’ Henry asked.
‘We’ll put these babies to bed early and make the camp safe and have an early night.’ Harry told the others.
The sheep were herded into the brake and everyone returned to the camp, thunder roared overhead, splinters of lightning flashed across the sky.
Henry moved the truck to higher ground just in case the storm clouds broke. On the black soil there is an old saying, you stick to it in the dry and it’ll stick to you in the wet. He’d bogged the truck before and knew he didn’t want to dig it out of a bog hole again.
After setting up camp on higher solid ground Henry prepared dinner. A huge tarpaulin swung over the truck fastened by steel picket pegs driven into the ground – on the horizon deep black clouds blackened the sky. Wind blew hard - Henry placed a sheet of galvanised iron sheeting around the fire and camp ovens to stop the fire from blowing out.
‘It’s going to be a doozie of a storm, Boss.’ Henry said in alarm.
‘That’s drovin for ya – it takes all types of weather.’ Harry commented.
They were safe – it wouldn’t matter how much terror the storm showed; they were safe.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:45 pm

'The Drover' - Page 55:

When daylight broke the next morning two men limped around the camp with their heads hung low trying to remove the alcohol taste from their mouths.
‘Breakfast is ready.’ Henry called, ‘greasy chops and eggs – come and get em. You look like you had a good time last night.’
‘Henry, I don’t know how Ted put so many rum chases away – you wouldn’t believe how many, I thought he had hollow legs.’ Harry commented.
‘Get into this tucker and you’ll feel better.’
Rose and Ted joined the camp, ‘your horse is saddled and ready Harry.’ Rose said.
‘Ah..thanks, Rose,’ was all he could say? His thoughts were different; he didn’t wash his face and still felt her soft lips against his cheek. A slight smile broke across his face.
After breakfast it was back on the road for droving to continue. Mid-morning they stopped for a break and Harry wanted to hear more of Ted’s story about the war.
‘Where were we, ah..that’s right – we arrived at Changi Prison, food was good and plenty of water. A couple of soldiers tried to escape but were re-captured and told to walk back to camp. They were lucky.’
‘Did you ever think about escape?’ Harry asked.
‘Not on your Nellie – Japanese were everywhere on the island, I wanted to stay alive. I cobbered up with a couple of mates and we cooked and cared for one another, they were good blokes – we stuck together.’
‘How did they feed you?’ Harry asked.
‘At the start they gave us plenty of food, particularly rice and we scrounged food where we could get it. One of my mates found pawpaws and another made rissoles from crusts of bread and bully beef.’
Ted continued his story; he felt comfortable sharing it with Harry. He trusted him. It was when he told him about burying dead Chinese shot by the Japanese and the bodies were 24 hours old, memories returned to haunt him. He continued his story of how he survived on rations of rice and water and lived out in the open until the camp was organised for the prisoners to be housed in the jail; ate rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, he wondered how he did survive. Was it any wonder his nightmares of this incarceration continued to this day. Harry couldn’t believe how Ted survived through his ordeal of imprisonment.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:10 pm

'The Drover' - Page 54:

On his twenty-first birthday his release from the white people surprised him; he returned to Cunnamulla and to Hollywood. There he found his gin and under tribal law they became husband and wife. He built their home from a half 1000 gallon galvanised water tank and within a couple of years he felt he owned the world with his wife and children.
They heard loud male voices singing –, ‘they’re back from the pub, Harry’s singing his favourite song ‘Saddle Boy.’ Henry expressed.
‘Sounds like they had a good time, I’m pleased Harry is getting along with Pa because he needs someone he can talk to.’ Rose remarked.
Harry and Ted rode into camp almost falling from their mounts and the words, ‘saddle boy ride for home’ sang through the silence of the night. They were both intoxicated to the level of inebriation. Both fell from their horses and landed on the ground, ‘I’ll do it – go to bed both of you.’ Rose interrupted.
Harry smiled up at Rose with a cheeky grin on his face, ‘you’ll make a horse tailer yet,’ he mumbled. Rose put her arms around his broad shoulders to take his weight. Harry felt he was in heaven and being rescued by an angel, ‘you are beautiful – you know.’ He whispered close to her ear.
‘Off to bed, and thanks for looking after Pa, he’s a changed man since he’s been talking to you.’ She placed a goodnight kiss on the side of his cheek. Harry felt light headed and made his way toward the camp. Ted retired to his swag while Harry took his boots off and fell into his swag, ‘we had a bloody good night Ted – you beat me with those rum chases.’ Ted didn’t hear Harry because he was sound asleep and snoring.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:15 pm

'The Drover' - Page 53:

‘Where did you get the wine?’ Harry asked inquisitively.
‘Japanese didn’t move into our District Headquarters; we raided the place and took all the liquor. The men were in a good mood; we drank the wine and liquor at headquarters that night before we marched next morning.’
‘I think I would’ve done the same.’ Harry said.
‘In the beginning we didn’t know what to expect only when we marched to Changi Prison. We were treated with respect, especially the Australian troops, most of the men made it. There were many dead along the way. A truckload of dead past us and I understood why we surrendered.’
Ted looked exhausted sharing his story with Harry who felt a blow by blow experience visualised in his mind the atrocities caused by war. Ted shared small parts of his experience with Harry; a little at a time and each time Harry was engrossed by the story; he almost forgot about droving.
Rose took over the droving at times which allowed Harry and her father to talk. She saw a difference in her father and was surprised he confided in Harry, more than he confided in her, to share his experiences of the war. He’d never shared those experiences with her or anyone else.
They crossed the Queensland-New South Wales border at Barringun and this was cause for celebration. Rose stayed in camp with Henry while Harry and Ted rode to the pub.
Rose didn’t mind remaining in the camp with Henry for over the time they’d been on the drove each shared their life experiences. Rose was surprised to hear Henry was an aboriginal commonly referred to as the ‘stolen generation’.
He was born on the northern aboriginal camp Hollywood where he lived with his parents and many aunts and uncles.
When he was a baby, government people came to the camp and took him away. He was raised by white people until he was twenty-one years old. He knew all about the white man’s way of life and happy with his upbringing; however, he was aboriginal and needed to be with his own people.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:56 pm

'The Drover' - Page 52:

‘We were losing men and the people of Singapore were being killed – it was a massacre – we had to do something; surrender was the only option.’ Ted admitted sadly.
Harry couldn’t think of anymore to ask Ted, his mind filled with horror when he visioned death, war and thought how lucky he was to be a drover, ‘we better get back to the job at hand – are you okay?’ Harry asked.
‘Yeah, I’ll be okay – I’ve never told anyone about this before and it sort of shakes me up a bit with the memory of it. I don’t know how we survived but not all of us got through.’
Both men looked at each other in wonderment, Harry thinking how in hell anyone survived and his job as a drover was an easy one compared to fighting in a war.
Ted became solemn, thinking about his mates he buried and left behind. It was a time in his life he wished to block out but talking to Harry released ghosts from the past. It was good to face those ghosts head on and talk to someone about what happened to bring them out into the open.
‘Okay you two back on the job.’ Rose sang out in a bid to tell Harry and her Pa there was work to do and another couple of miles to go for the day. It was day two and another twenty-eight days before they reached their destination.

Droving sheep is looking at the arse-end of a sheep most of the day; there wasn’t much else to do but dream of what may be, possibly enjoying a swim in the afternoon or late evening in the river. Rose thought of these things and fishing, she loved fishing since her first time when she caught a yellow belly. It was the first fish she had caught in her life.
Henry had the camp established by late afternoon when the mob arrived to be locked away for the night.

One day melted into the next and each day Ted shared his story with Harry, ‘after we surrendered we marched 20 miles to Changi Prison, men cried with disappointment. I drank half a bottle of wine and went to sleep. In the early part the Japanese were decent blokes, we had plenty of food and wine.’
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:56 pm

'The Drover' - Page 51:

‘What happened after you got back to the bunker?’ Harry asked.
‘The line was re-connected and communication fixed. The fight went on but we were forced to withdraw to Singapore Island. Many lives were lost - a new unit called ‘G Troop’ was formed’.
‘Weren’t you scared?’
‘Bloody oath, we were all terrified and thought we were going to die.’
‘Don’t worry I’d be the same – you’re a bloody hero, Ted. Did you know?’
‘No, I’m not a hero; those people who fought and were killed are the heroes, those ones who fought and fell back to Singapore Harbour. We fought like this for about a fortnight and on the 14th February we surrendered.’
‘That must have been a tough thing to do.’
‘I thought we could have fought on but the top brass told us to put our guns down on the ground and raise our arms. It was strange, in the distance we heard noises – it sounded like army tanks and over the horizon we saw hundreds of Japanese riding bicycles without tyres – the sound from the steel rim of the bicycles on the road sounded as if army tanks were coming.’
‘You must have been shattered.’
‘We’d been fighting for over a fortnight and losing the battle, then the water supply was cut off to one million Singapore civilians. They were being massacred by the intense bombardment of bombs – death was everywhere.’
Harry couldn’t believe anything of this magnitude could exist among human beings. In his minds eye he saw people dead, others fleeing from the enemy and proud to know men like Ted who fought brave to fight the enemy - had to surrender.
‘I can’t imagine how you put your rifles down and surrendered.’ Harry questioned.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:17 pm

'The Drover' - Page 50:

‘Alright you two I’m not being paid enough to do the job of three.’ Rose called to Harry and her father.
‘We’ll catch up later; I want to know the rest.’ Harry told Ted and returned to the tail of the mob.
Droving is a lonely life; at times dangerous particularly when water is scarce. This trip was a joy because Harry enjoyed listening to Ted’s story and the sheep grazed along the stock route. Because they only travelled six miles a day Harry worked out he had plenty of time for rest.

Chapter 7

It was almost noon when Harry cooed out to the other two to have a break near the river. There was a slight cool breeze blowing and the sheep looked relaxed. He was happy with wether sheep because to control them was easier compared to ewes and lambs. Wethers were better sheep to drive.
Under the shade of a gum tree near the river bank Harry dismounted from his horse; unsaddled and placed dinner camp hobbles around its front legs and let it graze. The other two did the same and joined Harry by the fire he’d built to boil their quart pots and have lunch. Henry made sandwiches for their lunches with mutton and damper sprinkled with golden syrup over the meat.
Rose moved away from the camp to rest under a nearby gum tree to give her father and Harry time to chat. She didn’t want to be in their conversation or to know what they were talking about, especially if it was about the war.
She had no desire to mention the war with her father because; in the past he almost chopped her head off with abuse and told her it was none of her business. She was alarmed at the thought he would never allow her to wear rubber thongs because they had made in Japan stamped on them. She never understood why he hated Japanese however; it was his problem, not hers.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:01 pm

'The Drover' - Page 49:

‘Sorry Harry, its north of Australia, past New Guinea and the bottom of China.’
‘I know where China is – alright I’ve got a bit of a picture of where it is, go on.’
‘We were there about 12 months before the fighting started. Our job was to stop the Japanese from moving south. When the fighting started we were attacked by Japanese aircraft.’
‘What’d you do – what was your job – did you shoot back at them?’ Harry wanted to know.
‘I was a signalman, my job to make certain the wires were always connected for communication. One time I was in a bomb shelter and communication went dead. The wires along the line must have been hit by a bomb and broke.’
‘What’d you do?’
‘I asked the Lieutenant for his revolver and he gave it to me. I strapped it on and left the bunker. It was raining and the line was hard to see. I felt my way along the length of wire and found a break and in the dark joined the wire together. Shells blasted the area and one time I thought I was a goner when I lay flat on my tummy. After the bombing stopped I started back to the bunker. The rain poured down in torrents, I was wet through to the skin. On the way back I saw a cave and thought it was a good thing at the time to go into the cave until the rain stopped.’ Harry was in awe of the story told by Ted, he visioned the soaked uniform and Ted moving into the cave.
‘I’m listening.’ Harry said locking eyes on Ted to encourage him to tell him more, he’s a brave fellow if ever he knew one, Harry thought.
‘It was dark and the flash light I carried was dull. Inside the cave the glow from the touch showed a pair of eyes. I didn’t know if it was a Japanese soldier or a mountain lion – we’d seen a few mountain lions since we arrived. Anyway I hightailed it out of there and returned to the bunker.’
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:00 pm

'The Drover' - Page 48:

‘We’d better have a rest also Pa,’ Rose shared with her father and both lay down with their heads on their saddles to rest. Under the shade of the gum tree, a slight breeze, Rose’s eyes closed.
Rose awoke with a smile – she now understood why Harry loved droving; it was his life, his destiny. She would do anything to make this trip a success. She was beginning to take a shine to him but this wasn’t the time or place to commence a romance. It was back to work.
She stood and walked to recapture the horses. With all three in hand she bought them to the shade of the tree when the others slowly awoke from their deep sleep.
‘Thanks Rose,’ Harry muttered rubbing his face to wipe away the sleep, ‘you’ll make a horse tailer yet.’
All three saddled their mounts and slowly reformed their previous positions – Harry at the tail; Rose on one wing and her father on the other. They moved the sheep off.
Harry moved toward Ted’s wing and soon both men came abreast. He swung his right leg over the pommel of the saddle, drew tobacco from his shirt pocket and rolled a cigarette, cupped his hand around the cigarette and lit it with a match. Slowly drawing on the cigarette he said, ‘Ted, we have time, do you want to tell me more of your story?’
‘Yeah, alright – where were we?’ Ted asked.
‘You arrived in Malaya – I think. What happened next?’
‘We were at Mersing when Japan entered the war and began their invasion of Malaya. They already reached Johore by January 42 and on the 21st we started the fight with Japan. We had 25 pounder field guns and this was when we were attacked by the Japanese aircraft.’
‘Woe up a bit, I have no idea what you’re talking about – where are these places? They’re all foreign to me.’ Harry spluttered.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:41 pm

'The Drover' - Page 47:

Daylight broke across the horizon; birds sang their early morning songs.
‘What are these?’ Rose asked before she mouthed a Johnny cake.
‘They’re Johnny cakes, a bit of flour, water, cream-of-tartar, soda and drippen.’ Henry told her.
‘Why are they called Johnny cakes? Did a fellow named Johnny invent them?’ She asked.
‘I dun know – Harry taught me how to cook them, do you know Harry?’ Henry asked.
‘No, my father taught me and he never told me who invented them,’ Harry answered, ‘they’re pretty good, the fish are good too’ he finished with a piece in his mouth, ‘did you let the dogs go for a run Rose?’ He mumbled with a mouth filled with food.
‘Yes Boss, they emptied out and are ready for the day – the sheep are down along the river drinking.’ She explained.
‘Alright then we’d better hit the road, Henry we’ll meet you at the 12 mile.’ Harry commanded.
All three finished breakfast, mounted their horses, whistled the dogs and commenced to ride around the sheep.
Sheep are strange creatures, there is always a leader, much like humans, and others follow the leader, just like humans.

It was mid morning and time to rest the sheep to graze, ‘we’ll put the billy on for a cuppa, what’d ya reckon?’ Harry cooed to the other two who were across the other side of the mob. Both waved and headed to where Harry stopped under the shade of a gum tree near the river.
By the time they dismounted Harry had a fire going and his quart-pot boiled. The others joined him. Henry prepared damper and jam for morning smoko and all three shared.
Leaning against his saddle Harry said, ‘I’m having a kip, the sheep will be okay.’ He laid his head against the saddle and pushed his hat over his face, snoring erupted from his nostrils.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:48 pm

'The Drover' - Page 46:

‘Ted, do you mind if we continue your story tomorrow – I’ve got to go for a skinny dip before I go to bed.’ Harry asked.
‘Yeah, that’ll be okay – I’m exhausted anyway and should turn in, see you in the morning bright and early.’ Ted answered.
Ted wanted to share the rest of his story with Harry but each time he thought about those days the nightmares returned to haunt his every moment, especially the atrocities handed out by his captors.
Before retiring to bed Harry went to the river stripped and entered the water. He washed himself with soap and brushed his teeth with his toothbrush. After drying on a towel he retired to his swag and in no time fell into a deep sleep, his thoughts only of Rose and images of Ted held as a prisoner-of-war.

The smell of freshly cooked fish spread through the camp as the sun broke through the early morning dawn.
Harry awoke with a startle and thought he’d slept in. He always awoke before dawn, a habit he had since starting droving. His nostrils filled with the fresh morning air and the smell of cooked fish.
‘I’ve let the sheep go and your horse is saddled and tethered,’ Rose told Harry when he joined them.
‘Thanks Rose, how is everyone this morning?’ Harry said with a smile in his voice.
‘Wonderful,’ Ted replied, ‘I’ve never felt as good in a long time.’
‘Brekkies ready – come and get it’, Henry called and the others formed a circle around the camp fire. Each secured a plate filled with fish and ate to their heart’s content, finished off with a pannikin of hot black tea and freshly cooked Johnny cakes.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:28 pm

'The Drover' - Page 45:

‘I think so – Mum couldn’t cook like this.’ She continued.
Henry dished up bread and butter custard and all was satisfied after a slice of damper and billy tea.
‘I’ll wash up,’ Rose said.
‘You’ve never washed up in your life.’ her father stated.
‘After this meal I’m happy to help out.’ Rose continued.
‘I’ll help.’ Henry called.
Harry and Ted moved away from the camp to have a smoke. A full moon made it as bright as daytime. After they settled and lite up a smoke Harry said, ‘I don’t want you to talk about the war if you don’t want too but I’m interested how you survived. It must have been tough.’
‘I suppose I should start at the beginning.’ Ted said.
‘Whatever you want to say will do.’ Harry wanted Ted to tell his story in his own time; he couldn’t imagine being held a prisoner-of-war for three years or more and come out of the ordeal sane.
‘At the time I joined up I thought it was too late because of my age but they took me – they must have scrapped the bottom of the barrel. We trained at Redbank in Brisbane for a few weeks and then got shipped off to Malaya. It was February 41; it took about two and a half weeks on the boat.’
‘Pa and Harry, I’m off to bed, see you both in the morning.’ Rose called out.
‘Don’t forget you’re the horse tailer – do you know what to do?’ Harry answered.
‘Get the horses in, I suppose – anything else.’ Rose replied in an inquisitive voice.
‘Let the dogs go for a run,’ Harry commanded.
‘Alright, goodnight - see you both in the morning.’
‘Goodnight.’ Both said in unison.
Harry thought more of Ted’s story and wanted to hear the rest of his tale but it was getting late and he had to have a bathe before he went to bed. Since Rose had gone to bed he could now have a dip in the river without embarrassment of being seen.
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Re: Pat Ritter. Books

Post by patritter » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:29 pm

'The Drover' - Page 44:

‘I did not – Henry, you’re teasing me – it was great Pa, I’ve never fished like that before – I can’t wait until tomorrow night – can we Henry, do it again?’ Rose asked in excitement.
‘I don’t see why not.’ Henry rejoiced in telling her, ‘what about some grub – I’m hungry.’
Henry uncovered the lids from the camp ovens and displayed the food he’d cooked. In one oven was a leg of mutton, part of the killer he dressed in the afternoon after setting up camp. In another, potatoes; onions; and carrots boiled to the right temperature and in a third, a damper. A large billy filled with water was bought to the boil.
Henry threw a handful of bushels tea leaves into the water. He tapped the side of the billy with a stick to let the tea leaves settle to the bottom. Before he poured tea into pannikins he swung it over his right shoulder twice in a clockwise direction than swung it in the opposite direction the same.
On the side of the truck was built a camp kitchen with a drop down lid used as a table; the food was placed for carving and selection onto plates. Each person took their turn at filling their plate with sufficient food before finding a seat on a nearby log.
‘Where’s the kangaroo; goanna; porcupine, rabbit, and snake you said you were cooking?’ Rose asked with a mouthful of morsel.
‘I thought we’d have mutton tonight and have something different tomorrow night.’ Henry replied.
Rose was hungry and finished her plate before the others, ‘that was the best food I’ve ever eaten, Henry – you are a great cook.’ She told him.
‘You got enough room for pudden – I’ve cooked your mother’s bread and butter custard.’ Henry said.
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