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Aussie yarns are as quintessential to the outback way of life as old boots and billy tea. I’ve been jotting down thoughts and experiences and sharing them with folks for over a decade now and I’ve come to find on more than a few occasions just how powerful the written word can be. Here are two cracking examples:
I found an old sign in the middle of nowhere along the Stuart Highway many years ago which read “Felt Hat Cnr”, to which was nailed an old felt hat. Utterly puzzled by its location and why it should be in the middle of nowhere I wrote a column in a mag on the very random off-chance that anyone might be able to shed light on the find.
Seven months later a chap named George from Kangaroo Island got in touch. Yep he’d made the sign after finding a felt hat on the Stuart Highway, while on a business trip with his wife Jan. The sign was a replica of one the very same he knew of back home. The original was made by the late Tiger Simpson who propped an old hat on a stick to demark a land boundary and has stood ever since as a memorial. George, being a handy bugger thought it would be fitting if he made his own tribute along the Stuart.
So, by way of a few words in a magazine, I was able to piece together a mysterious sign in the middle of nowhere, with just how it was made and its connection and inspiration several thousand kilometres away. To George, thanks for getting in touch, you have filled in the blanks on a mystery and told a cracking yarn in the process.
30 years ago I lost my old man’s camera bag out the back of our 4WD while venturing off a remote beach track after a long weekend camping. It never turned up and we gave up hope of it being found and handed in. To say I was in the bad books is an understatement.
25 years later and once again I wrote of losing the bag in a magazine to fill in some gaps in a travel article, yep you guessed it, someone read that article and emailed to say they’d found the bag. Being that it was 25 years previous I was sceptical but curious so replied and asked what had become of the bag. Well, believe it or not it still existed!!
Yep, Ian had been working locally at the time and was heading in to camp following the long weekend and just happened upon the camera bag on the track. For reasons he can’t explain, he held onto the bag and its contents for nearly 30 years, across several states and houses and still had it today. I swear this is 100% true; so true in fact that three weeks later, a large box turned up at my local post office and inside was my old man’s camera bag complete with camera and lenses as if stored in a time capsule.
Ian wanted nothing in return and was only too happy to have been able to put to bed a 30 year tale. It’s the sort of story that had I not lived it myself, I’d find it hard to believe. The moral is, of course, listen to your old man when he asks if the back of the 4WD is locked!!
It just goes to show, there are a million stories out there in the Aussie bush and by virtue of our common link with the outdoors, an equal number of likeminded folk who are only too willing to share them. In an ever changing world, it’s great to experience good old-fashioned Aussie tales first hand and know that they are alive and kicking in the modern age.
If you have a tale from the bush that you’re sitting on, let us know. Leave a comment below, or on our Facebook.
As a presenter and photojournalist, Graham Cahill is regarded as one of the luckiest men in Australia. Currently part of the 4WD Action Magazine team, Graham is known for his outrageous personality and passion for the bush.