Last droving trip


RON KERR – reminiscences of a working drover


The last droving trip I did into Broken Hill from Milparinka, I got as far as Fowler’s Gap, owned by Owed Hayes. We camped at the Government bore on Christmas Eve. Les Gunn, the drover, turned up on horseback and said he was going to camp there for the night too. I said I’d be moving about three miles through a fence in the cool of the evening and Les said his mob was coming from the west, and he had come ahead to check out the water. He kept walking around the big bore tank, and then he asked when I had arrived. I said, I had landed there about dinner time (mid day) and he replied that the mail truck was to leave some parcels for him at the tank. I said the cook arrived here before the cattle so I’ll ask him if he saw any parcels. Les said the mailman must have put them in the tank – then he asked me if I had arranged to have a carton of beer and a bottle of Red Mill Rum at the 2nd inside stay, on the east side?

I said. Les, you’ll have to dive down 8 foot to get them, as the cardboard carton would be all soaked by now. He said, I can’t swim, let alone dive. I said, you want me to take a look to see if the mailman left them in the tank? He said, would you? I’d like to get the rum before any of my men get here. So, down I went. The beer was there, but the cardboard box had disintegrated and the cans spread out a fair bit. I was coming with two cans in each hand but, as yet, hadn’t seen the rum. After all the beer was accounted for I went after the bottle of Red Mill. I found it under the next (neck?) inside the stay of the tank.

As I got out of the tank and put my clothes on Les had his quart pot lid half-full of rum saying, “would I like a Christmas drink?” he passed me the lid and said “Merry Christmas”

I could see the dust if Les’s cattle about a mile back so I said goodbye to him and started mine up to get moving, and to get out of the road of Les’s cattle. They used to call old les the ‘Busted Camp Oven’