Some Short Yarns

Op Shop

Ungarie NSW.

We stopped there to buy phone credit at the Post Office, and upon doing a U-turn in the street, we saw a couple of old blokes sitting on chairs outside an old building. It turned out this was a new Op Shop that had just opened in this small town. It stretched through buildings next to one another and the rooms seemed to go on and on and on.
We bought some treasures…….and especially a Carnivakl Glass Bowl for no money!!



Augrabies Falls, South Africa:
Judith was in the curio shop looking at stuff and trinklets and asked the woman attendant for a price on an unmarked item. The woman replied “ Ek praat nie Engels nie” (I do not speak to English) to which Judith replied “ I am Australian” and the reply came to “ Oh that’s OK then, …How may I help you?”…….

Tyre tale

We pulled in to Glendambo off the Stuart Highway in South Australia one day, after blowing a tyre on the little caravan. I went into the mechanics place and asked if he had a certain sized tyre. He said that he had onme and it was worth $120. Knowing that a tyre of that type was usually about $70 in the city I asked if he had any used ones I could use for a spare. He said No and it was Unlikely that I would find one in Glendambo. I said thanks and with that, I left his place. Back in the car Jude said that she thought that she had seen some old tyres under a bush as we drove past. Upon investigation I found a tyre the right size and in useable condition and so we took it and fitted it to the spare rim, pumped it up and off we went……

That Can’t Be

I was sitting by the side of the road at Ravensthorpe in Queensland waiting for a ride. The cars were few and far between. It was late 1968 and I had only been in Australia for a few months. I was Hitch-hiking around the country.

An old Aboriginal bloke walked by and said “ You gotta smoke mate?’ They always asked for a smoke. So I obliged. He sat down next to me cross-legged and we had a smoke together. After a while he asked me “Where you from, mate?” and I said “Africa” to which he replied “But that can’t be, yer a Whitefella !”


The Bucket

We bought this block of land on the outskirts of Darwin. It was twenty acres in size and we built our house in the middle of it, so that if new neighbours came along, we were equidistant from all of them.

Our surrounding blocks of land were still underdeveloped at that point in time, as we had to negotiate a rough road-mound to cross over a large pipeline that fed the city with drinking water.

If you have ever had a house built you may know some of the pitfalls. The builder constructed half of the house, which would not pass the building board inspection and then I had to kick him off the site as he was incompetent. We finished the house by hiring subcontractors.

During this time of building we saw no neighbours. Off to the east, however, we could see a jumble of tin buildings through the tropical woodland but in the course of six months we saw no sign of life.

We lived in a small 12foot caravan with all our belongings stored on wooden pallets and covered by thick plastic tarps.

After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, we finally moved into our house, which was still incomplete, lacking ceilings, doors, tiles and an outside veranda. There was no commercial power available at the time and so we bought a big diesel generator for lights and refrigeration. We were however able to get water and have the phone connected.

Both of us were working full time and were not at home that much. I suspect that the shrill ringing of the phone, when we were not at home, pricked up the neighbour’s ears.

One afternoon we heard the dog bark and a voice saying

“ Nice doggie, nice doggie”

There was German John, resplendent in his underpants only and they were worse for wear.

“Oh Hello” said John

“I live in the bush through there” he said, pointing towards the faint outline of his donga in the late afternoon sun “I wos wondering if I could use your phone, please. I only make local call”
What could we say?
And so we let him use the phone on a number of occasions and even when we were not at home, as the place was never locked.

In return, John used to drop by every so often with a lovely Paw Paw or some Bananas or some other exotic fruit as a ‘Thankyou’ for letting him use the phone. And he always used to leave some money to cover the costs.

I never got to find out the life story of German John as he was a bit cagey about it, and so I didn’t press for more information.

Some months later John came over to see if I could help him lift a heavy object, using the winch fitted to my 4×4. I agreed and drove the long way round to get to his place. Using a pulley system we moved a shed from one position to the next.

John lived in a very modest one roomed shack with a veranda around three sides of the building. He had no electricity and only rainwater, which he collected in tanks although he was about one hundred metres from the main water pipeline in to the city. I noticed that he had no toilet and asked him what he did for a toilet.

“Oh” he said, “ I juss piss on de edge of my vegetable garden and that keeps the kangaroos away. And den I shit de bucket and when it is full I tip it on to the vegetables and fruit trees.

I suddenly lost my appetite for John’s Paw Paws and Bananas!

One positive thing from all these revelations, was, that I learnt that to keep foraging wildlife away from your garden, you must urinate around the perimeter of it. In a different time and a different place I tested John’s theory, and it worked!

To be continued………………….

Posted in Life Stories.