The way I usually speak about the Outback and the people that live there I tend to paint a picture of good times and nice people; however there were times that I was forced to take a different view of people, locals, graziers who thought that any labour was to be considered equal to the first Afirican Americans that arrived in the deep south of the United States.
In my early days, working on properties, which was my favourite type of work, I was less than clued up on who were the good bosses and who should be avoided.
It was a situation that came upon me, I mean, I was not looking for work as I had not long finished a droving run and still had cash in my pocket, but the Grazier sounded so decent in his offers I succumbed and said I would try it out for a couple of weeks.
The property, out near Winton, was the typical sheep property of the day, and the homestead looked well looked after, so I was just a bit surprised when he said I could set up in the open fronted shed, next to the tractor and the bales of hay that were stacked there.
"Don't you have any ringers quarters?" I asked.
"They got burned down a few days ago, and I haven't got around to rebuilding them, but that will come in time."
As I found out, back in town, his ringers shed , not to be called quarters, was burned down by him for some insurance money, almost five years ago.
At least there was a wire stretcher with a straw filled palliase on top, which I flipped over and nearly choked on the dust rising. On top of the hay bales I could see some indignant rats peering at me as though I was an unwelcome intruder. 'Well, ' I thought, ' If there are that many rats there can't be many snakes." some consolation, I suppose.
"We have got enough time to exercise a couple of my thoroughbreds, " The boss said from behind me.
"A good time I suppose, at least the flies don't get around in the dark." I grumbled, I hadn't eaten since breakfast and was a tad hungry.
"We'll be right, the moon will be up in half an hour." he said.
"Look, Mr Bracken." he told me at the start he wanted to be called Mister at all times. " How about I have a bite to eat, and then we can spend a bit more time with the horses."
"Cooks already washed up, not much chance of getting a feed now."
"So you missed out too?" I asked.
"Na! I had a bite when you were setting up your quarters...It won't be long and it will be breakfast time." How thoughtful, I didn't think, what I did think was 'what time does the mail truck come through in the morning...early I hoped, I could be back in Longreach by lunchtime.
The thouroughbred, Lemon Hart he called it, and as I found all his "Race Horses" were named after Rum brands.
Well, I can tell you, old Lemon lived up to her name in that fact that, like bad cars, she was definitley a lemon, put that with the fact that she was a rum horse in all aspects, I was not really looking forward to riding her on an empty stomach...Mine not hers.
MIster Bracken handed me a regulation jockey pad, a saddle about the size of a postage stamp, with the following instruction. "Don't get it damaged, it cost me a mint in Brisbane..." and "Lemon Hart somethimes throws herself down, so hold her up so she wont roll on the saddle."
I had never tried a horse in a jockey pad, so I reckoned, if nothing else it would be a new experience. So, I saddled her up, and she started to sweat the moment the pad, all four pounds of it, hit her back. A great stream of wet dung flew from her rear end and splashed down the back of the boss...."Good girl," I whispered.
Mister Bracken swore, and cursed, and swore some more, but would you know it, the wet dung still clung to his back.
"Mount up, " He growled ,"and remember what I said about the jockey pad."
Old Lemon was that full of oats, and working horse mix, without working, that she sprayed forth every fifty yards or so, and was so pent up that she could not walk, she had to jog, jog all the time.
"I dont think this is gunna work, " Mister Bracken, I came out her with the idea of helping with the mustering."
"So you will be 'boy', an' this is what you'll be riding, her or one of the others, I need 'em rid ready for the Stonehenge picnic race day."
"Well, it's like this, I ain't no boy, and I aint no jockey, so I quit."
"Well now, Mr. tough bloke, if you ain't, you ain't any use to me....Your sacked."
"I'll get me' gear and you can run me down to the mailbox." The mail box was on the main road and I was hoping I could get a lift back to the 'Reach.
"Is that - bloody- so, I'll tell ya' what, get your gear and walk down to the bloody mail box, I'm finished with ya'."
There, hungry, alone, feeling sorry for my stupidity I sat for almost half the night when all of a sudden I saw the Lights on the Hill, which in the downs country, is a rare occurance.
Back in the pub, one of the blokes asked where I had been, I had missed the darts game last night.
I took a job with Bracken, out near Winton.
After a half hour of putting up with their laughing and jibing, I got the impression that Bracken was not a good bloke to work for after all.