I scrambled out of bed hastily on this first day of summer break. My ‘oldies’ had arisen and begun the chores. I had been helping with these from childhood--some things were rather fun, but most were plain, hard, backbreaking work.
Grabbing my ‘grundies’, I scampered past the kitchen to the porch squeaky screen door to visit the ‘dunny’. My mouth watered—Mum made the best biscuits in the whole region and the delicious smell tickled my senses.
“Lachlan, don’t dawdle,” I admonished, resisting the temptation to search for the hidden ‘wombat’ or occasional ‘bandicoot’ that slept in our malnourished herb garden. Already the sun was shooting its hot rays onto the withering plants, like laser beams from a science fiction movie.
Our ‘station’ was well known for its acres of fertile grazing fields, but we were on the brink of a serious drought this year. I had overheard ‘mates’ at the nearest village pub, their 'pints' shaking in work-worn hands, ‘yabbering’ about how long we could survive in the oppressive heat without rain.
“Lach, stop your dreamin’ and clean your plate—there’s chorin’ to be done!”
“ ‘Kay, Mum,” cramming the last two biscuits spread liberally with ‘vegemite’ into my cavernous mouth. Jumping into my ‘clobber’ and grabbing my ‘sunnies’ and ‘akubra’, I rushed out to join my ‘da’ out in the west acre. On the way, I hurriedly fed our ‘chooks’ and snapped my fingers at Wilton, our ‘kelpie’. He followed me sedately until we reached the summit of the sparsely grassed knoll, when he caught the ‘jumbucks’ sharp scent and ran to join them. I kept my eye out for any ‘dingo’ that might be lurking in rocky shadows as I made my way downhill.
“Saw some ‘brumbies’ this mornin’,” my father greeted.
“Was the black stallion amongst ‘em,?”
“Na. He’s probably at the ‘billabong’, though there’s hardly enough for him, let alone the ‘joeys’ and kangaroos.”
“You worried about fires at the north ‘bush’?”
The older man drew off his cap and swatted at the swarm of ‘mozzies’ around him, reminding me of a sputtering copter propeller.
“Can’t say for sure, lad,” he squinted off into the distance at the hazy horizon. Following his gaze, I imagined the worst.
“You want I should join ol’ Jonesy for ‘smoko’?” him being our nearest ‘cobber’ living on the edge of the ‘bush’. “I could take the “tinny” down the So-Ho.”
“Ya just might do that. Mind you watch out for Memby,” he added, his eyes twinkling.
I rolled my eyes. Memby, the biggest, meanest ‘platypus’ I’d ever seen, had scared me as a youngster, and sometimes still caught me unawares at the edge of the river. What a ‘dill’ I was back then!
I dug in my pocket for some ‘lollies’ and found ‘tim-tams’ to munch on the way; then, sweaty and somewhat breathless, arrived at the water where the ‘tinny’ was roped to some brush. Skimming across the water, I welcomed the muscle-rippling effect the oaring caused. I spied a sleepy koala clinging to branches of a tall tree and wondered for the hundredth time what it must be like to just eat and sleep.
Rounding the bend, I noticed the sky was turning darker and to my inexperienced eye, it appeared as smoke from a brush fire. In the distance, I saw Ol’ Jonesy, ‘in the nuddy’ in front of his shack at the edge of the river, dancing and waving his arms in a frenzy.
“He’s ‘blotto’ for sure! ‘G-day’ you old ‘croweater’! ‘You right’?”
Catching sight of me, Jonesy pointed to the smoky sky.
“It’s a comin’, lad—RAIN! Hallelujah!”
“ ‘Fair dinkum’?" And I shed my ‘singlet’ and jumped to join him while the rain pelted the hard ground beneath us.
What a day to remember! My family and Jonesy celebrated with a ‘barbie’, ‘yabby’ravioli, ‘crocodile curry’ and kiwi for ‘tea’, giving sincere prayers of thanksgiving to God for the end of the greatest drought in my Australian history.
bandicoot/wombat= backwards pouch
akubra=wide brimmed hat
tinny=small aluminum boat
in the nuddy=nude
you right=need something?
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