Pals: Young Australians in Sport and Adventure

Pals: Young Australians in Sport and Adventure

Joseph Bowes
Joseph Bowes

Author: Bowes, Joseph
Australia — Juvenile fiction
Pals: Young Australians in Sport and Adventure













  1. By Way of Introduction

  2. The Bushrangers

  3. A Desperate Encounter

  4. The Great Match

  5. The Big Flood

  6. On the Face of the Waters

  7. The Death of the Forest Monarch

  8. What the Tree held

  9. The Rescue

  10. The Return

  11. The Breaking Up

  12. Down the River

  13. Off for the Holidays

  14. Christmas Fun and Frolic

  15. A Bush Ride and its Consequences

  16. The Dingo Raid

  17. Dingo *v.* Emu: A Fight to a Finish

  18. The Chase and its Sequel

  19. Concerning Wild Horses

  20. The Brumby Hunt

  21. The Warrigal’s Strategy

  22. How Yellow Billy broke the Warrigal

  23. A Day’s Shoot

  24. The Corrobberie

  25. In the Bushrangers’ Caves

  26. The Explorers

  27. A Respite

  28. The Camp by the Sea

  29. At the Mercy of the Sea-Tiger

  30. In and About the Camp

  31. Off to the Gold Diggings

  32. How they struck Gold

  33. Bullion and Bushranger


With incredible difficulty Yellow Billy managed to pass his whip
thong twice round the brute’s neck (missing from
book) . . .

Suddenly the Forest Monarch topples, lurches, staggers and falls
with a mighty crash

The neighbours saw, far out on the wild, wreckage-strewn waters,
a tiny boat with four slight figures

The emu failed to elude the panther-like spring

Retreating one moment and advancing the following, uttering

The huge brute lashed the water into foam, and swam round
and round in a circle

“We’ve struck it rich, I do believe,” cried the stockman

Behind the lantern came a voice that more than the lantern, or
even pistol, cowed them: “*Stop! Hands up!*” (missing from book)

The grey gums by the lonely creek

The star-crowned height,

The wind-swept plain, the dim blue peak,

The cold white light,

The solitude spread near and far
Around the camp-fire’s tiny star,
The horse-bell’s melody remote,
The curlew’s melancholy note,

Across the night.





“Happy season of virtuous youth, when shame is still an impassable
barrier, and the sacred air cities of hope have not shrunk into the mean
clay hamlets of reality; and man by his nature is yet infinite and

“Comin’ over to-night, Tom?”

“By jings! I’d like to, Joe, but dad said this morning
he was going to shell corn to-night. You know what that
means. What’s on?”

“Oh! Sandy’s stayin’ in for the night; so I thought of
gettin’ Jimmy Flynn an’ Yellow Billy so’s we could have
bushrangers, an’ stick up the coach by moonlight. If
they can’t come, Sandy an’ I’ll go ‘possumin’ in the
slaughter-house paddock.”

“I say! what a jolly lark the bushranging’d be. How’d
you manage it, Joe?”

“We’ve planned that out all right. We’d get Jimmy
Flynn’s billy-goat cart an’ the billies. He’d be mailman,
an’ it’d be gold-escort day. Yellow Billy’d be the trooper;
he’s got a pistol, you know. He’d ride the roan steer
he’s broken in. Then you, Sandy, an’ I’d be Ben Bolt’s
gang. We’d do a plant in a lonely spot along the road
an’ surprise ’em. I’d tackle Billy, you’d look after
Jimmy, Sandy ‘d collar the mailbags and gold boxes, and
then scoot with the loot. I think it’d be better to shoot
Billy, so’s to make it a bit more real; that’s what Ben
Bolt’d do.”

“But, Joe, where’d we get the guns?”

“I’d get father’s. You’d have to make believe with a
nulla-nulla. We could stick a boomerang in our belts, it’d
look like pistols in the dark.”

“But I say, Joe, ole chap, you wouldn’t really shoot
Billy?” said Tom in a tone that savoured both of fear
and scepticism.

“You’re a precious muff, Hawkins! I was just kidding
you. No, you stupid, it’s all gammon. The noise the
powder ‘ll make ‘ll scare the seven senses outer Billy.”

“By golly! it’ll be crummie enough. Put it off till
to-morrow, Joe, an’ I’ll come.”

“Can’t be done, my boy. Sandy’ll not be here, for one
thing. Besides, I have to pull father down to Yallaroi
Bend to-morrow. It’s his service night there. Sorry you
can’t come, Tom. We’ll have to do our best without you.”

“Oh Moses! to think that I can’t join!” groaned Tom.
“Look here, Joe, I—I’ll do a sneak. I’ll be here somehow,
you may bet your Sunday breeks,” continued the eager
lad, as he stepped into the little “flat-bottom” boat which
had brought him over.

“Joe!” he shouted when he had rowed some distance
from the shore. “I’ll give a cooee if I can get, an’ two
cooees if the way’s blocked. So don’t start till you hear.”


The place where these boys lived, moved, and had their
being was a district famed for its fertility, on one of the
northern rivers in New South Wales.

The river itself had many of the elements of nobility
and beauty as, taking its rise in the snowy heights of the
New England ranges, it clove its way eastward, finally
debouching into the blue waters of the Pacific. The
river-flats formed magnificent stretches of arable lands; too
rich, indeed, for such cereals as wheat and oats, for
their rank growth rendered them liable to the fatal rust.

Here, however, was the home of the maize, the
pumpkin, the sweet potato, the orange, the lemon, the
plantain. Here too, the natural sequence, in a way, of
the prolific corn and the multitudinous pumpkin, were
reared and flourished the unromantic pig.

Fed on pumpkins, with skim milk for beverage, topped
off with corn, the Australian grunter—whether as
delicious, crisp bacon, or posing as aristocratic
ham—produces flesh with a flavour fit to set before a king.

Away from the river-flats the land becomes undulating
and ridgy, and well grassed for cattle runs. In the scrub
belts, running back from the river and its affluents into
the hilly country, are to be found valuable timbers, hard
and soft; especially that forest noble, the red cedar.

Cattle runs of large extent exist in the back-blocks,
formed in the early days by that class of men to whom
Australia owes so much; the men who to-day are vilified
by those not worthy to black their boots: the hardy,
adventurous, courageous, indomitable pioneer, who more
often than not laid down his life and his fortune in the
interest of Colonial expansion and occupation.

At intervals along the river-banks are small settlements,
dignified by the name of townships. Tareela, the
principal village, skirted both sides of the river, and was
connected by a ferry. Here were located the Government
offices for the district, together with the stores, hotels,
school, etc.

Joe Blain, the minister’s son, was the leader of the
village lads. He had two pals, who were inseparable from
him: Sandy M’Intyre, the squatter’s son, whose father
owned Bullaroi, a cattle station situated a few miles from
the town, and Tom Hawkins, a farmer’s son, the youngest
of the trio. These boys gave tone and direction to the
fun and frolic of the settlement. Of them it is sufficient
to say at present that they were not pedestal lads.

At this time a noted bushranger and his mate were
raiding the settlements. All police pursuit was futile,
owing to the resourcefulness of the ‘rangers. They had a
keen knowledge of the open country and the mountain
ranges. Furthermore, they were generally mounted on
blood horses, usually “borrowed” from the surrounding
station studs.

These men had many sympathisers among the lawlessly
inclined, and, strange to say, among law-abiding settlers.
The “bush-telegraph” was an institution in those days.
Certain friends of the ‘rangers kept them posted up in
the movements of the police, sometimes by word of mouth,
at others by writings on paper or bark, which were
deposited in rock crevices or in tree hollows, known only
to the initiated. Sometimes a young lad, or even a girl,
would ride scores of miles across country to give them

The police were not wanting in bush lore or courage,
and in the end invariably ran their quarry to earth. But
an outlaw often had a long career in crime, owing to the
aid given, ere he was trapped. Thanks to closer
settlement, the advance of education, and the general use of
the electric telegraph, bushranging has become a matter
of history. The species is now to be found only in the
stage melodrama, the itinerating waxwork show, or
embalmed in literature.



Poins: Tut! our horses they shall not see. I’ll tie them in the
wood; our visors we will change after we leave them; and, sirrah, I
have cases of buckram for the nonce to immask our noted outward

Prince: But I doubt they will be too hard for us.”


After leaving Tom Hawkins, or, to put it more correctly,
after Tom had paddled away in his punt, Joe Blain
proceeded to look up Jimmy Flynn, the blacksmith’s
apprentice, and Yellow Billy, a half-caste youth, whose
father followed the occupation of a timber-getter in the
ranges. Yellow Billy was generally employed as yard
boy at the Travellers’ Best Inn, and a rough time he
often had, especially when the timber-getters were
dissolving their hard-earned gold in alcohol.

One of Billy’s duties was to milk the cows and tend the
calves. Among the latter was a yearling steer, which he
broke in and rode on the quiet. Many an hour’s frolic
the boys had in the moonlight in riding the steer. This
animal had a good slice of the rogue in its composition,
with a propensity for buck-jumping. When in a certain
mood it would be as stubborn as a donkey and as savage
as a mule.

After standing, say for some minutes, never budging, in
spite of thwackings and tail-twistings, it would suddenly
take to buck-jumping. Oh, my, couldn’t it buck! Woe
betide the unlucky rider when it was in this mood. Torn
from his hold—a rope round its brisket—one moment
behold him sprawling over its back, the next whirling through
space, finally deposited with more force than elegance on
the turf. All this, however, was great fun for the boys,
who encouraged the brute in its bucking moods, each
mounting in turns, to lie prone sooner or later on mother
earth, amid the uproarious laughter of his fellows.

Billy was the exception. He was a born rider. Unable
to shift him from its back, the brute became quite docile
in his hands, and kept its tricks for the others.

Jimmy and Billy were ready and willing to fill their
parts in the bill. The former, at “knock off,” went out to
the town common to round his goats, and Billy promised
to be ready, “steered,” so to speak, by the time appointed.

The road fixed upon was the track that led out from the
township to a large sawmill, distant about six miles. It
was a solitary road, passing through a scrub-belt, crossing
several minor creeks, threading its way over a rocky
ridge, winding through a rather wild defile, and ending at
the mill; the sort of place, indeed, to present numerous
opportunities for the criminal enterprise on hand. A
spot where one could get “nice and creepy,” as Joe said to
Yellow Billy, much to that young man’s disquiet.

The plan of campaign was simple enough. Joe, Tom,
and Sandy were to set out as soon as possible after
sundown and choose their spot for attack; while Jimmy was
to drive the Royal Billy-goat Mailcart, with Trooper Yellow
Billy a little in advance, as per custom.

The embryo bushrangers, unfortunately, had only one
horse between them; the one Sandy rode to school. Mr. Blain’s
horse, on which the boys counted, was being used by
the minister to take him to a moonlight service some
distance out from the river. It was settled, therefore, that
the three boys should bestride Sandy’s stout cob, which was
well able to carry these juvenile desperadoes.

“Mother!” shouted Joe, as he strode into the house in
the late afternoon, from the wood-pile, where he had been
chopping the next day’s supply, “we’re going to have
grand fun to-night.”

“What sort of fun, my son?”

“Bushranging along the sawmill road. Can I go
mother? We’ve got such a grand plot.”

“Well, I don’t mind; but don’t be out late.”

“S’pose I can have the gun?”

“The g-u-n!”

“Yes, mother. No need to fear. It’s all play.”

“Well, don’t load it.”

“Only with powder to make a bang.”

“I don’t like the idea, my boy. Gun accidents often
happen in play. You remember Jim Andrews——”

“Oh yes, mother, but that’s different! It was loaded.”

In the end, owing to the boy’s importunity, Mrs. Blain
reluctantly consented.

Early tea being duly dispatched, the boys made the
necessary preparations for their dark deed. Joe produced
a pair of knee-boots, the some time property of his
father. He made them fit by sticking rags into the toes.
He thrust his trousers’ legs into the boot-tops, and wound
a red scarf round his waist, through which he stuck a
boomerang and nulla-nulla. A ‘possum-skin cap adorned
his head. His final act was to fasten on a corn-tassel
moustache, and to strap his gun across his back. The
broad effect of the costume was to make this youthful
outlaw a cross, as it were, between Robinson Crusoe and
a Greek brigand.

Indeed he quite terrified his two sisters, as he suddenly
entered the sitting-room to the accompaniment of a
blood-curdling yell. This the girls match with a shriek that
wakes up the sleeping baby, bringing the mother in with
a rush.

For a moment Mrs. Blain, seeing Joe in the half-light,
thought some ruffian had entered.

“It’s very thoughtless and wrong of you, Joe, to frighten
your sisters. I—I—I’m quite angry with you——”

“Very sorry, mater,” said Joe, with a serio-comic air. “I
only meant to give them a start.”

The girls, however, began to laugh, Joe looked such an
oddity. They turned the tables on him by quizzing him
most unmercifully. At last our young hero was very glad
to beat a retreat to the backyard, where he found Sandy
busy in saddling the horse.

Joe’s confederate had roughened himself as much as
circumstances permitted. In lieu of a skin cap he tied a
big handkerchief round his hat, and stuck a couple of
turkey-tail feathers through it. He had manufactured a
brace of pistols out of short lengths of bamboo, with
corn-cobs, stuck in bored holes at an angle, to form the stocks.
These, with a boomerang and nulla-nulla slung at either
side, and a short spear fixed in his belt at the back and
standing over his head, made him in appearance more
like a red Indian than a Colonial free-booter.

“All ready, Hawkeye?”

“Yes, ole pal. The mustang is waiting, and the brave
will vault into the saddle at Thundercloud’s word of
command,” answered Hawkeye in bastard Cooperese.
Fenimore of that ilk was Sandy’s favourite author.

“Hast thou heard the signal of Red Murphy?” said
Joe, falling into the strain of speech.

“No, Thundercloud. No sound from our brither of
the hither shore hath been borne on the wings of the wind
across the——”

“Oh, stow that rot, Sand—Hawkeye! I wonder?——”

“Yon’s the cry of the chiel,” broke in the would-be
brave, as at that moment the cooee of Tom Hawkins,
alias Red Murphy, rose in the still air, faint from the
distance, but distinct.

“A single cooee! Rippin!

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