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The original 'Big Bad John' was featured in a ballad sung about a giant of a man with a rumoured violent past who gave his life for workmates when a mine tunnel roof collapsed.  My 'Big John' is a merciless tennis player defeated by a most unlikely apponent.(and it can be sung to a similar tune)



In memory of 'Uncle Bill' of Lockington, Victoria. Son of Agnes and James Smith.  My father Jack Fullerton's cousin. Bill, a dairy farmer for most of his life,   passed away in 1998, aged 87. I couldn¹t imagine his heaven not including cows.



Our first grandchild was born in 1988.   The rush of love for this new special little being is an amazing feeling - there seems to be an instant connection. We have three more grandchildren,   now,   end of 2003,   ranging in age from almost twelve months old to nearly sixteen.  They are all precious.



One of the poems I read at the 50th. Anniversary celebration of the Everton Country Women's  Association .



Two poems of the same name.   My sister certainly surprised me by sending me her poem - how lovely to have a poem written especially for me!



Our local Wangaratta Community Radio Station, 3WPR FM 101.3  prides itself on providing programmes for the whole family without including offensive content.  I think this 'Grannie' must have been tuned in to another station!



'Ha! Funny Poems Volume 1.' ,  poems collected by Arcadia Flynn  in book form and also on her Website .



Her life story - as published in the Border Mail newspaper,  Albury,  in an article by Cliff Chamberlain on Saturday,  June 3, Year 2000.

Among Albury's most colourful characters of old was Jockey Jack who died aged eighty in 1959.  According to Des. Martin's  'A Century of Racing',   Jockey Jack was born May McDonald in 1879 in Melbourne.

Her mother died when May was aged only three.  Later, when her father was killed in a Bendigo mine, the orphan May was fostered out to a pretty tough farmer who insisted the youngster milk eighteen cows,  feed the horses and drive the milk churns  nineteen kilometres to town before breakfast.

After being flogged with a horsewhip for some minor misdemeanour the twelve-year-old ran away and for the next four years drifted in and out of various homes before finally joining up with a trotting stable in Melbourne.

It was then May McDonald began to dress as a man so convincingly that the masquerade lasted until a bad fall at Warnambool when her real identity became known.

But not before the kid jockey 'J.J. McDonald' had taken out a double at Hamilton and brought home winners at Albury,  Wagga,  Omeo,   Tallangatta,  Wangaratta,  Corowa and other centres including a Chiltern Cup.

According to Des. Martin ,Jockey Jack joined the A.I.F. as a 'bit of a try on' .

She had her proudest day of her life when,  in uniform, she led an Armistice Day parade down Dean Street (Albury) with two State Governors  behind  her  horse.

Highly respected by all,  Jockey Jack,   who lived and worked as a man,   usually wore a navy blue suit complete with waistcoat and a cloth cap.

She was at various times a jockey,  horse trainer,  shearer,   shed-hand and timber worker.

Des. Martin records that with a good sense of humour Jockey Jack once dated a barmaid and 'made advances' to her - just for fun.

When Jockey Jack's end was near in 1959 she made but one request - that she be buried in pyjamas - men¹s pyjamas.


N.B. This brief history of the life of  'Jockey Jack' by Mr. Cliff Chamberlain,   plus an article in the late Mr. Graham Jones column in the Wangaratta Chronicle inspired my poem.



Dusty Swag Awards  . 'Bush Poems and Yarns' published by Murrindindi Historic Register Inc.




'Jack Riley - Bushman Game' at  'The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival'  with other poems from the Snowy Mountains Collected from competition entries 1995-2002 .             Corryong , Victoria .



My sister,   Norreen,   is only a couple of years younger than I am.   I think it came as a great surprise to everyone (especially our father!) when along came Jean,   seventeen years later.

I wrote this about the time of Jean's first birthday.



My husband's cousin,   Loma,   spent much of her life droving cattle or sheep on 'The Long Paddock' in New South Wales and Victoria with her father from a very early age,  continuing to do so for many years  after she was married  with children.  She was a first rate horsewoman and stock handler. Now seventy plus,   she is still a lover of all animals and the land, and has wonderful stories to tell of those days on the road.



My family nicked anything and everything out of my records and computer to put up on their birthday gift website for me!

This amazing little selection was an entry in a competition conducted by N.A.S.A., United States of America to find names for two Micropods being sent to the planet Mars.

  --- It didn¹t win!



The little tot found Grandma's description of his or her new baby sister very puzzling.   It seemed the infant had somehow appropriated bits and pieces of the whole family!



I read this to the ladies of the Everton Country Women's Association 50th.Birthday celebration .



'Pietro' was the alias of a caller who would regularly request songs to be played on Wangaratta Community Radio 3W.P.R. F.M. 101.3.



His death was a tragic accident.   He made many friends in a short life that was over way too soon.



In 1996 an article in the Border Morning Mail (Albury/Wodonga) caught my eye. Melbourne film maker/writer/ director Steve Westh,   was looking for people to be the subjects of an A.B.C. documentary attempting to discover why so many of the 'older' generation (i.e. The Grey Nomads) elected to 'pull up stumps' and set off around Australia in a car and caravan.  The reasons were as diverse as the travellers,  who came from all walks of life.  

We had joined the Grey Nomad brigade in 1995.   George had long service leave due to him and we spent almost five months in our home on wheels.

Always proudly Australian,  we came home with an even greater love and respect for this beautiful country.   And we had only scraped the surface - there is so much more to see.  

Anyway,  I wrote my 'The Grey Nomads' poem and sent it to Mr. Westh.  He told me it had adorned the walls of his caravan for the greater part of his trip filming the stories.  His December Films production was screened on A.B.C.T.V. on Tuesday the 23rd. September,  1997.



A modern day wanderer waltzes his 'Matilda' onto the wrong side of the law. You could sing the lyrics to the familiar old tune.



Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop -  he shook my hand once and we exchanged a few words as he signed my copy of the late historian Graham Jones' book  'There Was a Time - a  Wangaratta Shire Bicentenial Celebration' when it was launched in Wangaratta, 16/12/1998.

 I had read  the War diaries of Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop some years previously and feel the book should be required reading for everybody.

Sir Edward was born in Wangaratta in 1907 and died,   Melbourne 1993.

He was captured in Indonesia by the Japanese during World War Two and sent to Thailand where the Prisoners of War were put to work building the railway to Burma.   The  conditions and treatment were harsh.  As a doctor and surgeon he did his utmost to alleviate the sufferings of his fellow prisoners,  often having to use great ingenuity to fashion medical insruments from whatever he and his mates could scrounge.

After peace was declared he was much admired for his  efforts to promote a peaceful friendly relationship with the former enemy.

A  wonderful memorial statue for Weary Dunlop is in the Benalla Botanical Gardens.



The Weekly Telegraph , Benalla, Victoria



My mother,  my Uncle Eric,   Auntie Frances (Mum's sister),   my husband George and I, plus our four children travelled one day (late 1979 or in 1980),   on a little journey into the past. We drove out from Bendigo about twenty miles (app. forty kilometres) to the site of the Hardinge family home where my Grandfather and Grandmother (with four sons and three daughters - one being my mother) operated a eucalyptus distillery on leased land granted to my Great-Grandfather in 1907.

A seldom used track through private land brought us to the few remains left of the dwellings and factory,   once a scene of constant toil and activity as the production of eucalyptus oil became quite a large business employing the whole family.   My mother was ( she passed away in 1998) always very proud of the quality of the eucalyptus oil which came from their Whirrakee factory - 'Crystal clear', she'd say,   then scornfully 'not like that brown stuff you get from those tinpot touristy places today!'

I looked at the bits of cracked asphalt that had been the house flooring,imagined the timber consruction,  iron roof and big verandah,   the room with a fireplace some distance from the main house where the boys slept.  Part of the old machinery shed still stood,   the factory gone.  Swallows swooped over the dam which once supplied water for the steam to extract the pungent smelling oil.

This place was my mother's world when she was a child.  Her friends were her few toys (among them a huge doll bought by her sisters with their first pay packet,   named - 'Margaret'!) and the various dogs,  cats,  horses and cows belonging to the family.  She loved to explore the bush and was familiar with the wildlife species and flowers to be found there.

 The children walked four miles to get to school at Neilborough East,   rain or shine. A great shock to the little bush girl when she walked into the crowded  classroom at the Geelong Road school where she did her fifth grade whilst staying with her big sister Nell and husband at Footscray.   She loved learning but her education was cut short when she went home to Whirrakkee to help her mother (my grandmother) with the household chores.

I like to think that perhaps a laughing bushchild spirit does still dance at Whirrakee.



The story of our life told in the way we write.   Occasionally I drift away from bush verse. This poem seemed to strike a chord with quite a few readers,   especially if they had an elderly,  much loved relative slowly losing the sharpness of reality.



The Wangaratta Chronicle .