Australian agricultural and rural life

Station stories

The loneliness and isolation of station life and outback work is part of the Australian legend, and figures large in the literature of the land and its peoples. The verse below was written by two Misses Grey, daughters of Col. Grey, at Lake Innes in 1846, as a parody on the popular song of the day, 'Last Whistle'. 


[Collection of lithographs and sketches, 1853-1874] / by S.T. Gill
Samuel Thomas Gill - original sketches, 1844-1866

This tale was found in an abandoned hut on the Western Plains of NSW in the late nineenth century. With some humour, the anonymous boundary rider details an average day in the 365 which made up his uneventful year. A unique slice of colonial outback biography, this story documents the loneliness of the plains as experienced by a young man faced with unrelenting solitude. Unlike his half-hopeful musings, however, the boundary rider did not get the sack – neither did the boss find him hanging on the 'whim' (ie. bore water pump) next to his hut – instead, on hearing the 'bugle blow the call to war' in South Africa, he packed his bags and went 'whither his dust is one with the red sands...' (taken from a note in the hand of JF Archibald, editor of the Bulletin, attached to this manuscript.)

'A Boundary Rider' by 'Back Blocker', ca. 1898