As a lover of anything country, I’m really excited to have Shirley Moore here today, talking about the forgotten job of droving. Welcome Shirley!
Thank you Fleur for having me on your guest blog and giving me the opportunity to talk about why I wrote the book.
This is the first time I’ve written a blog! However I’ve been experiencing a great many firsts lately.
The beginning of writing MY DROVING DAYS started out on the banks of the Darling River between Bourke and Louth, NSW. Peter and I spent many happy hours sitting beside a campfire at night, sipping on a whisky or two and my tape recorder, recording, until Peter would say “That’s enough. Who wants to hear about all this? It was just my job.”
I knew the way Peter told me about his life in the outback from 1952-1956 I somehow had to write about this wonderful time in a young bloke’s life. I wanted to share and try to paint a picture of what he went through, sometimes hard while other moments were so rewarding.
I decided to write the book through Peter’s eyes, his feelings and his awe of some of the men and women he met. One such person is Martin Jack, the cattle drover who taught Peter everything he knew about being a bushman and how to survive in the sometimes harsh but beautiful environment of the Australian outback.
Peter and I have been happily married for 52 years. ‘Till death, do us part,’ will always apply to us.
Peter was born in Balgowlah while I was born in Manly, both suburbs on the Northern beaches, in Sydney.
After Peter returned from droving he had a bad accident on his Norton bike which stopped him from going back to the bush at that time. He worked at various jobs. Two years passed then he met me and we married in 1960. We have two children, 2 grandchildren and one great –grandson.
Peter worked hard, six days a week to pay a mortgage and take care of us. Our yearly holidays saw us camping as we didn’t have much money. Camping on the banks of a river is a truly wonderful place to be.
Being a city girl, I had no knowledge of the bush, but with Peter’s help I came to love everything about the bush, birdlife, and the animals.
One of the most memorable sights I’ll always remember was when Peter and I were camped beside the Culgoa river near Weilmoringle-NSW. It was just on dusk as the last rays of sunlight eased away. Slowly down the banks of the river a mob of kangaroos made their way down to the waters edge and drunk their fill.
Over the years Peter has taken me to a great many of the place where he worked and lived on the road while droving, fencing, station hand or laboring.
Only for Peter I would never had the chance to see for myself the wonders of the Australian bush. Where In the world could you see Brolgas dancing and prancing as they court each other? See male emus sitting on their eggs while the females look for other males. Garlah’s, Cockatoo, Corellas are just some of the birdlife that abound in our wonderful country.
Peter and I received a wonderful letter from a reader who has read our book. He explained while reading the book he could picture himself sitting at the campfire, droving cattle, appreciating the bird and animal life, through our stories we have brought to life these wonderful experiences and be able to share with him, a city dweller. Coming from a complete stranger that comment made me feel very emotional. The coincidence was that he only lived a few streets away from us.
I feel I have achieved what I set out to do, to share with the readers, the beauty and to get some feeling for our country. Peter’s experiences and telling me about it made me want to write the book, MY DROVING DAYS. These stories about life should be told as its all part of our social history.
The story begins with a young man, green from the city who wants to go droving. This is where he learns about life in the bush, the numerous characters like Charlie, the station hand who is told to burn down the old outside dunny and blows its contents sky high, surviving, with only his pride hurt. Meeting a poddy-dodger in the act; thrill to the high drama of a night stampede.
Lastly all I can say is Peter and I hope whoever reads our book, whether they are from the city or the bush, will enjoy the read, maybe get a laugh or two.