GULLY NED

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Post  Guest on Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:28 pm

GULLY NED

By NORMAN LILLEY

I’M no scholar," said Gully Ned, the old fossicker, "but I could see that new gold buyer tryin' to take me down. When he put my gold on some white paper on his counter, and took the bellus to blow away any dirt before weighin' it, he kep' tryin" to blow some of the light gold dust with the dirt; but I soon tole him."
Ned's grey-and-ginger beard stuck out as he tried to look duly ferocious. "I'll sell me" gold to one of the banks, instid," he said. "He won't git any more of my custom."
It took a lot to make Ned angry. He was of a mild, good-humoured nature, and usually his grey eyes looked kindly on the world.
A survivor from the days of big nuggets and of rushes to new fields, but never one of the lucky diggers, Ned lived long ago in his hut on a worked-out mining area. He' had made sun-dried bricks to build the hut in the gully, and there were saplings for rafters and a roof of shingles.
As Ned was afraid of snakes he cleared the growth for eight feet all round the hut, and kept the space well swept. Beyond, there was his vegetable garden, which provided a large part of his meals. His pet joke was that he grew "only one flower cauliflower."
He kept a few fowls, and for game he depended on rabbits and on birds that came to an old battery dam. Crane and wild duck were often on his bill of fare.' Butcher's meat and baker's bread were rarities, forming only an occasional treat.
Game shooting by Ned's method was laborious. His single-barrelled muzzle loading gun had lost its trigger catch, so he would place the gun on a tripod of sticks, hold the hammer back, and, after he had got a sight, let it go.
THE kill, if any, was retrieved by his cat, Diana-"the best huntin' cat in the Colony," in Ned's opinion, "better than any dawg." He would describe some remarkable exploits in which they had been partners.
Diana happened to be a tom, but Ned did not know that originally the name was that of a reputedly celibate goddess. Some joker had suggested it as appropriate for the cat, and, liking the sound, he had accepted it.
"I can't read or write," Ned confessed to friends; but he had his own methods of recording and reckoning. In a peculiar way he kept count of the passing of the days. His favourite smoke was one of the cheapest tobaccos of that time-Confidence Curls, a loose black twist. In the hut he had a small shelf, divided with strips of wood into seven compartments, one for each day of the week.
Cutting the tobacco on his chopping block with a tomahawk, he would put an equal portion into each of the compartments, wrapped in paper to keep it from drying, and when his daily smoking brought him to the last he knew it was Saturday, the day for his five-mile tramp to the big town of the district. There he sold his morsel of gold, and bought tea, flour, tobacco, and oddments. An occasional order was for "a pound of Neva stearine candles, short sixes"; but the candles lasted a long time, as Ned did not keep late hours. Often, when winter made an early light necessary, he used a slush lamp instead of a candle.
Tall and thin, Ned was a remarkable figure in his weekend raiment. For the Saturday trip he donned newly washed moleskins, white except in the patched places, and his "Sunday" belt and bow yangs, both of plaited leather of several colours.
The Saturday attire, minus the coat and hat, served for Sunday, when Ned was at home to a few acquaintances, who would sit on their heels for a rambling talk outside his door.
IN his search for gold Ned went to a depth of no more than six or seven feet, digging at points he thought promising between shafts worked years before. He was always hopeful of finding something worth while; but even In a good week he seldom got more than four penny-weights, valued at the time at 16/. A bad week would produce two 'weights.
Yet, as he never spent much, he left some money when he died in hospital. Ned was a non-drinker, and although he attended the few district race meetings, conspicuous in his week-end attire, his bets were not extravagant.
There was a current impression that money or gold was secreted in the hut, and
as soon as the wood dray bearing Ned to hospital had passed up the road two shrewdies went over to make a search. By the time they had finished the tidy hut of which Ned had been proud was wrecked; but they found no treasure.
Then it became known that Ned had left a balance of £49 in the Savings Bank, and that a will drawn by a solicitor, and signed by Ned with "his mark," had bequeathed the money to the two daughters in the family which had been kind to him.
The money would serve, the will suggested, "for a marriage portion."

This Character Sketch Of An Old-time Fossicker Strikes An Authentic Note in Bush Life.

"I'll sell me gold to one of the banks, instid," he said. "He won't git any mara ' of my custom."

The Argus
July 1940
http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/


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Post  Hoffs Gold on Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:47 pm

What a great insight in to ones life, not sure which is more outrages the triggerless rifle or Diana the hunting cat great read thanks James,,
Cheers Hoff,
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Post  Guest on Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:47 am

Hoffs Gold wrote:What a great insight in to ones life, not sure which is more outrages the triggerless rifle or Diana the hunting cat great read thanks James,,
Cheers Hoff,

lol! I liked this bit at the end. {"I'll sell me gold to one of the banks, instid," he said. "He won't git any mara ' of my custom."} Oh i like the man. lol!

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