Sarah Goodall Deputy Head of Mission Australian Embassy of Athens Greece opening the Athens exhibition of works by Aussie photographer artist Shane Aurousseau. The exhibition of images taken around the sheep breeding region of Condobolin central NSW and based on the poem by AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ the setting for the poem being the overflow on the Lachlan river at Condobolin.AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson also attributed ‘The Man from Snowy River’ and ‘Waltzing Matilda. The exhibition supported by the Australian Embassy of Athens and sponsored by Canadian investment company Syracuse Main Inc. and the fine art paper company Innova art.
The Cocky or the boss on a sheep station, the shearers and hard work or hard Yakker in the shearing shed. The kelpies the working dogs of the Australian sheep stations, backing dogs that only need a quick command in order to know exactly where the drover wants the mob to go. Drovers and Cockies will tell you that a dog is worth two men. Australia still rides home on the sheep’s back producing over one third of the world’s wool and the finest micron level from Merino Sheep. I have had the fortune to spend some time in Condobolin, roughly the centre of New South Wales (NSW). An Uncle was the Cocky at a sheep station called Rosalind close to Condobolin.
Condobolin believed to have evolved from the aboriginal word Cundabullen (Shallow Crossing). explored in 1817 and established by 1844. Close to Condobolin is the ‘Overflow Station’ the setting of the poem ‘Clancy of the Overflow’. by the creator of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and the Man from Snowy River – Banjo Paterson. ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ part of an Australian’s schooling.
Andrew Barton “Banjo’ Paterson (1864-1941). Poet, ballad writer, journalist and horseman.
‘Banjo’ Paterson, known as Barty to his family, was born Andrew Barton Paterson at Narrambla, near Orange on 17 February 1864. His parents, Andrew Bogle and Rose Isabella Paterson were graziers or Cockys on Illalong station in the Yass district. Some say Yass is the finest wool grazing in the world, certainly in Australia for the Merino sheep.
Paterson’s early education took place at home under a governess and then at the bush school in Binalong, the nearest township. From about the age of ten years he attended the Sydney Grammar School. He lived with his grandmother in Gladesville and spent the school holidays at Illalong station with his family.
After completing school the 16-year-old Paterson was articled to a Sydney firm of solicitors, Spain and Salway. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1886 and formed the legal partnership, Street and Paterson. During these years Paterson began publishing verse in the Bulletin and Sydney Mail under the pseudonyms ‘B’ and ‘The Banjo’.
In 1895, at the age of 31 and still in partnership with Street, Andrew Barton Paterson achieved two milestones in Australian writing. He composed his now famous ballad ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and his first book, The Man from Snowy River, and other verses, was published by Angus & Robertson, marking the beginning of an epoch in Australian publishing. This hallmark publication sold out its first edition within a week and went through four editions in six months, making Paterson second only to Kipling in popularity among living poets writing in English. His poetry continues to sell well today and is available in many editions, some of which are illustrated.
*Biography courtesy of the Reserve Bank of Australia
Clancy of the Overflow – Banjo Paterson
I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just ‘on spec’, addressed as follows, ‘Clancy, of The Overflow’.
And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
‘Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
‘Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.’
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving ‘down the Cooper’ where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.
And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.
I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.
And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.
And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.
And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal —
But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of ‘The Overflow’.
Droving Shearing, hard yakka
Images: Photographer Shane Aurousseau
Much of Australia’s development is not dissimilar to that of the United States and its growth from the coastal regions to the west or inland.Not all of Australia’s population hugs the coast rather like hanging onto a tippin mattress. Although the greater proportion of the Australian population is on the coast the Commodity wealth of the country has driven growth inland seeking the rich mining of every mental and mineral from Gold, tin, copper, bauxite, opals, Uranium, silver, iron ore, coal ;
Sheep and cattle farming booms across most states with the country hosting some of the largest sheep stations and cattle ranches in the world. Wine vineyards stretch from Western Australia to Queensland. Grains and cotton at also grown in the commodity rich outback
Australia produces 30% of the worlds wool and the merino is the finest micron level available to the market. Australia is the 7th largest beef producer in the world, producing around 4% of the world’s beef.
All this rush for wealth really commenced in the 1800s. In 1851 the Australian population was only 437,655 the gold rush of 1851 changed all of this with the population growing rapidly and a decade later it was 1,151,957, today of course it is nearly 24 million people. the mining, sheep and to an extent the beef industry was away from the coast and caused the development of outback towns and cities such as Condobolin,Dubbo, Broken Hill, Ballarat, Alice Springs and Lightning Ridge all now major centers for the commodity driven industries.
The development of these towns really dates from the 1800s a period when the United States of America was developing in a similar way. North America’s towns of the wild west were very similar to Australia’s even down to the stagecoach connections of Cobb and Co. What developed in this period of inland growth were what Australians refer to as the ‘Veranda Towns’. Towns with large verandas circumnavigating the period commercial buildings and houses of these regional centres – designed for hot summer evenings.
This architecture gives Australia its unique character influencing its development from the 1800s on. So much of this development is left in- tact across the continent that the country is a ‘Museum for the 1800s and the growth of a nation..
I recently had the privilege of photographing and filming Kelpies working with Merino sheep the invitation came from Peter and Terrie L’Estrange, they are the owners of a station on the outskirts of Condobolin Central NSW called Belswick Merino Stud. I believe they have around 7000 acres running mainly Merino sheep including prize animals that are regularly shown at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney .
The Merino is of course the sheep that gave Australia its place in history as the leading wool producing country in the world. Wool production of Australia accounts for approximately 30% of world production.The Merino originally from central Spain (Castille). Its wool was highly valued even in the Middle Ages.
The fine micron quality of Merino wool gives this commodity its reputation as the highest quality of all wools.
Merino sheep introduced into Australia from Spain in the late 1700s and developed by Captain Macarthur in the early 1800s into the valuable commodity it has now become for Australia. The production of Merino wool adds some Aust $2 billion annually to the Australian GDP. From the 1800s it was generally accepted that Australia rides home on the Merino’s back. The droving and organising of the sheep has always been a hands on exercise however those hands do have assistants – the Kelpies.
Although different breeds of dogs work with sheep it is generally Kelpies that the the Australian stations use. These dogs tend to have great personalities and have an inbred desire to work and to organise.
The Kelpie tends to be a one man dog and is great with children if brought up in an environment with them. A good working dog is prized and can change hands for anything up to $30,000 Australian Dollars and as one station owner pointed out is worth 2 men. Watching the two drovers working with the dogs moving some 100 sheep around was an incredible experience. The handlers shouted orders to the dogs more or less indicating to them where they wanted the sheep to be directed. The dogs quickly respond to signals even to a glance. To see a sheep cut from the group and the speed of the dogs forcing the sheep to rejoin its mates gives an insight into how intelligent these animals are.
The Australian Kelpie is the most popular of working dogs and their agility gives them the ability to move around tightly packed sheep, see the dog in the photograph clearing the sheep by jumping them. They are workaholics easily trained herding is in their nature.
The workaholic nature and energy of this breed can be demonstrated by the image of the Station hand hosing the dogs down following an intensive working session. The dogs actually seek the cooling hosing when work is finished.
Boredom is the Kelpie’s worst enemy they are working dogs.
When travelling in Peter L’Estrange’s 4×4 one of the dogs Lucy sat between us. This particular dog is as pointed out the house dog and rarely leaves Peter’s side however she still needs to work and knows when he is preparing to move the sheep and more or less demands participation. She can be seen travelling on the back of Peter’s quad bike waiting for one of the flock to make a false move.
Photographer: Shane Aurousseau
Australia the last Frontier
I recently finished a photographic tour of inland western and northern New South Wales my home state. its development has been an interest for me for sometime. What I found during this trip was a worrying trend of an’ I’m OK Jack’ culture..
Australia is a country that offers so much especially from it’s richness in commodities much of which it has a ready market for in China. The issues that worried me were ones of development and management. When I first travelled from Australia 40 years ago the country had a population of around 9 to 10 million, today it is 23 million mainly coastal inhabitants. However much of the wealth is not drawn from the coast but the Outback once the great dividing coastal mountain ranges are crossed. The country has the potential to be commodity self sufficient.
Much of Australia’s manufacturing industry has been lost, the final blows coming with the withdrawal of the car industry manufacturing including the Australian iconic Holden brand.
Union and government inability to see eye to eye and manage this incredible country has been a contributing factor. however having said this the attitude of the coastal Australian is one of ‘ let’s have another barbie and go to the beach’ few even realise that their farmers have failing crops due to lack of rain and many have had their land repossessed by greedy banks who don’t give a damn for the development of the country. The immediate quest for short-term profit seems to be the goal of many banks the world over. I have always said that ” banks that do not contribute to the management of society are irrelevant to society”.
A major contributor and hinderance to Australia’s development is infrastructure. Bring this up to most Australians and the retort is but we don’t have the money or people and to add we don’t give a damn, Taxing major corporations properly could change this issue. The only time that the average Australian will give a damn is when food and retail commodity prices hit totally unaffordable levels. Then their will be wailing and gnashing that the prices are too high and still it will take a term for the penny to drop that the farmers and commodity developers should have been taken care of.
Infrastructure there are many developing regional centres, you only have to look at the size of the supermarkets that have grown up in regional centres mainly Woolworths and Coles but now challenged by Aldi. These groups are the real business people and see the advantages and potential for growth. If you look at Spain and the infrastructure that is going into place in a country that has just gone through a major recession you have to ask why not Australia. The average myopic Australian would argue that Spain has a larger Population. The average European will say that Spain has ripped of the Euro Zone for that money – better than being spent on expenses by corrupt Euro politicians. Spain now has one of the finest high speed rail networks in the world after China. Link Sydney, Dubbo, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and you will develop the interior of those states. Link Perth and you will develop Western Australia. Have the guts and the people will come. Getting a bus from the national capital Canberra to the major centre of Dubbo is a substantial exercise. Only one goes on Saturday and it goes through half of New South Wales.
Australia gets only 5 million tourists per year, half of those probably Chinese coming in and out to visit family; Spain gets 65 million, France 85 million and the UK 35 million. Now some would say that this is due to Australia’s isolation. I would however argue that the differential is too great and needs a closer look. Australians seem to be in cop-out mode. Promotion of Australia is mainly in English in the UK and yet the cross section of other nationalities in Australia has now become great indeed.
It is almost a no brainer to develop a rich country like Australia if there is a government without vested personal interests.The Australians are so limited in their thinking that unless they take action to manage this great country they will lose it. Already the Chinese own almost everything employing the Australians. Now I don’t have a problem with the Chinese investment in Australia without it the Australians would have bankrupted the country. The Chinese bring a lot of good things and should be welcomed. However when you own something and sell it you should retain a interest in what you have built especially as it is your main home.
The damage done to the Darling river and many other rivers adding to the mismanagement of water through the country. Once steamers travelled along the Darling river. Australia’s Artisian Bore covers 23% of the country one of the biggest water basins in the world yet it is not tapped properly in times of distress for farmers. The Snowy river scheme which was one of the engineering wonders of the world is not working properly and generating the irrigation that it should. Cubby station in Queensland dams off more water than Sydney Harbour contains. The South Australians are plundering the great Murray river without a management system in place
To get the development right you need a government with the will. , Link the great centres and the people will come; Australia has one of the best living possibilities in the World and could be the leading light in Asia.
Photographer Shane Aurousseau