Sunday, March 16, 2008

Outback, The Back o Beyond and the Bush

Poor Nick is now cross-eyed with confusion over what might be the Australian outback, beyond the black stump or the bush . . so by way of explanation (completely subjective, unresearched and highly opinionated) here's a cooks tour of what's out the back! Now pay attention, there will be an exam!

Going Bush
Stop giggling you silly young things. It's perfectly clean. Basically you can 'go bush' in any enclave of national park, or wild preserve beyond the immediate boundaries of a town. Now this is a difficult concept because Sydney for instance, is a sprawling urban metropolis of the American model. Small CBD . . big suburban breakout. Yet within the burbs are lovely little spots where one can 'go bush'. For me, it's probably through Windsor and Richmond along the Kurrajoing Road or Catai National Park . . actually a quick visit to Glenorie is close enough! Count the fingers on that lot for starters! For others it Might be Kuringai National Park which encompasses a huge tract of land from Sydney's northern suburbs to the central coast. It' s flora and fauna preserve well worth exploring . . or even the Bue Mountains, now there are some serious bushwalks if you're inclined or you can just marvel at the Megalong valley from a range of lovely lookouts before you plonk in a pub for a Devonshire Tea! . . all as my pal Anony mentioned within little more than an hour or so from the CBD. Oh she has wonderful shots of the bush just a spit from the centre of town. So to go bush, you really don't need to go that far . . for the real bush experience, you need to go beyond the black stump.

Govetts Leap Waterfall in Blackheath .
just over an hour from my place in the Blue Mountains

The Black Stump

This phrase basically describes a place which early in the piece was simply indescribable.
Endless plains of inland Australia under a massive sky (yes the sky is bigger here). Is there a black stump? In my travels I've found there are several but the 'acknowledged' one is actually in Blackall in central Queensland over 1000 kilometres west of Brisbane - no that really is in the 'never never'.

Surveyors on Astro station near Blackall, in 1887 used a blackened tree stump as the base for their measuring equipment. The equipment was so large the tree stump was the most secure base around. Before long people considered anything west of Blackall to be - beyond the black stump although I believe using stumps as survey markers was widespread so there could be hundreds of the buggas.

The real McCoy at Blackall near Winton in Queensland

The Far North
Now this is where many tourists like to play . . they think it's quite a long way from Sydney . . .they're right. The far north refers to far north Queensland. The lower portion of which provides access to the Whitsunday Islands and the resorts within that archipelago but the real far north means you have to have a plane or a four wheel drive. This stretch of our trans Australian highway is not paved. It encompasses the lush and ancient Daintree Rainforest, where the mountains meet the sea, pristine forest and arid inland stations and mining communities. This is no exaggeration . . the Far North . . .is as far north as you can get in Australia, right up there on the pointy bit, in gulf country. Don't camp on the beach, there are big saltys and they're always hungry. Don't swim on unprotected beaches without your panty-hose on between November and March, there are Box Jellyfish and they're always deadly.

Cape Tribulation - Far North Queensland

The Outback, The Back of Burke, The Back of Beyond
Well to reach the outback, you have to go beyond the bush . . .To reach the Back of Bourke, you need to go beyond that western inland country town in NSW. The back of beyond . . well that's further than your eye can see . . . The outback is a little further than the bush but not as far as the never never. Unless of course you go to the far outback in which case you are the back of beyond. Generally, the outback is extreme rural . . .at least a day's drive inland. Anywhere the Dingo or Rabbit Proof Fence surrounds, anywhere that Emu and Red Kangaroo dwell. Anywhere you can't swim because there are crocodiles. Anywhere that Opal petrol is sold . . . anywhere you can't get a Chardonnay unless it comes from a cardboard cask . . The outback is arguably the 'real' country . . red dust, hard men and even harder women. Aboriginal communities and massive farms, mining communities and open cut mines . . .where camels are feral and termites build condominiums. This is where children go to school via the School of the Air and your groceries are delivered once a week by plane or road train and you don't even bother to round up your cattle except for the annual muster involving trackers, helicopters and motocross bikes . . .

This could be anywhere . . .within a day's drive of pretty much any capital city!

The Never Never
Phrase coined by Mrs Aeneas Gunn "Jeannie" when she wrote her book about a station manager's wife in the far outback, "We of the Never Never". At first I thought it was an English translation of some Aboriginal word or explanation but no . . the Never Never is in fact the area around Elsey Station in far north Western Australia on the Northern Territory Border where Jeannie Gunn described the landscape as "A land that bewitches her people with strange spells and mysteries until they call sweet bitter and bitter sweet. We who have lived in it and loved it know that our hearts can never rest away from it." I've never been to the NT or Katherine but from what I've seen, the scenery is unique and very bewitching! I daren't go for fear I may never never leave the never never.

So there it is. I still call Australia Home, I am an Australian and I understand the meaning of Waltzing Matilda . . not bad for a one-time pommie!

Not quite what you thought?


Anonymous said...

HAHAHAA excellent cooks tour! Agree with your directions and now can see them in words! Learnt a couple of things also. Never, never been to the Never Never neither :)

ian said...

And I thought with a piece in yesterday's FT that you were becoming very domesticated

Thriftcriminal said...

Thanks for that. I'm still keen to get down there for a spot of walking, even more so after that. My current ambition though is to walk the Wicklow way, followed by the South Leinster way, followed by the East Munster way. Three weeks walking I reckon, takes me from roughly where I live now to roughly where I grew up. I have to wait for the smalls to get bigger though, PTCC is not keen on being a bog widow for tat long with a 3 and a 6 year old to drive her spare.

Grannymar said...

Nice trip thanks. I thought those rocks looked like loaves of bread!!

Nick said...

Thanks for that, Baino. I'm now fully conversant with your verbal geography! I now know my black stump from my never never and I know all about Opal petrol and the School of the Air (that reminds me of the Flying Doctor!). Oh, and I'll remember not to swim on unprotected Northern beaches without my panty-hose....

Baino said...

Anony: Glad we're on the same page! I made a lot of it up! I'll probably never go to the never never .. too darn HOT!

Um Ian the link takes me to an article on Pfizer? Can you email it to me?

Thrifty: no problem bring em over and I'll babysit while you and the Bog Widow explore the Blue Mountains .. three weeks with Tots in tow - can's say I blame her! Fwoaarr!

Or dinosaur eggs GrannyMar!

Sweet! Nick you've got it,you've really got it!

Quickroute said...

Great pics! - I miss the place! :-(

Baino said...

Achh Quicky: Home is where the heart is! A third of mine is over in your neck of the woods trekking the Inca Trail! Mind you, I've never been to Port Douglas, Katherine or Blackall!