Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bullocks, not Bollocks

Sometimes it takes a while before a 'brilliant idea' for a post becomes a reality. But, as the cliché goes, 'better late than never'. And another cliché tells us that 'a picture tells a thousand words'. It's true. I want you to know there's now a 'moving picture' version of the word picture I struggled to convey back in 2012 in my book Southwark Luck, although I tried my best in the 'Sawyer' chapter.  It involved bullocks.


Last summer, on ABC TV, a wonderful modern-day depiction allowed me to step back in time to Charlie Martin's strenuous life as a timber-getter, bullock-wagon driver and bush sawyer in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s of New South Wales. It's hard to conceive of a man raised in the heart of London at Southwark, conscious of fashion, with the bright lights of the Royal Circus round the corner, becoming such an isolated worker during his long years of exile in Australia.

He worked with a few mates (usually his brothers-in-law) in the forests of the lower Blue Mountains, in the area extending behind Wilberforce towards Kurrajong. Via claims made in the Court of Requests (pp 80-82 of Southwark Luck), there are hints that he was contracted at one point to help clear the track up the steep escarpment to Kurrajong Heights, prior to the construction of the Bell's Line of Road. 

My time travel came courtesy of a repeat showing of that wonderful ABC program, Landline. The scenes showed, more than my words could manage, the whole process of Charlie's bullocky (muscle-bound) occupation and the skill involved in training and managing a team of bullocks. Watch it here. It's well worth it. Definitely not bollocks.

Note: If you're a descendant of the Charles Martin who arrived in Sydney Cove on the General Stuart on 31 December 1818, and you don't yet have a copy of my award-winning book Southwark Luck: the story of Charles Homer Martin, Ann Forrester and their children, then you should have a copy. Of course you should! Get it here.

As a descendant of Charlie's you're also the descendant of a First Fleeter, Ann's father Robert Forrester of Scarborough fame, and you'll need his story too, available here. Postage costs are cheaper overall if you order both at the same time.

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