Print

Posted in:

Back of Beyond

When Hugh Tindall a was a lad he lived out in the backblocks of Queensland, in the Diamantina river country on a  collective of land, known then as a poor man’s selection, which was nothing but hard work to get it to produce anything. This is his and his families story of making the best out of every circumstance and reflecting back on a time in Australia’s history that is no longer.

From an early age he grew up with the land, learning to respect it as the careless died young. His family prospered and by the dint of hard work moved off this early property to one that was still hard work but produced a little better.  And so his family continued to move, each move to another parcel of land making life that little bit easier for all.

As time went on his father gave him his first gun at 13 years old. When the second  world war erupted both he and his brother were too young to enlist, but not too young to get to work, repairing the fences, marking the lambs and learning the art of shearing sheep. At the ripe old age of 16 he shore his first 100 sheep.

This is just one of the many wonderful stories which paint life as it was and will never be again in the Australian outback as times have changed; technology has to a large degree replaced sheer man-power although many of the tasks still required to be carried out such as mulesing, are done by man-power.

Each chapter tells a differing tale, covering areas of rural and Australian history such as the notorious ‘shearers strike’ of the ‘50’s, which eventually set the tone of the industry for many years to follow, with the “them and us” mentality.

Amongst some of the many gems dotted throughout the book is a chapter on buying their first place in 1952. His father, not noted for spending money, decide to by a plane, much to the surprise of his family. Once this had been delivered, he sent Hugh to Sydney to get a licence. Hugh discovered he was colour-blind and so brother Lach got his instead.  That’s simply how life once was.

Some of the things they decided to that plane for were definitely not in the instruction booklet, but overall it made getting men and materials to the various sights far quicker than sending them overland and in the case of medical emergencies often saved lives.

Not a heavy read, this is one look back down the years that will intrigue and entrance as, Yes, life really was like that and, then as now, you only get where you want to be in life by doing the hard yards and grabbing and making the most of opportunities as they come your way, as did the Tindall Family.