The Old Gods

My grandfather started this cattle station back in the goldfield days. I was born here and lived my whole life here, excepting the war years when I was in Malaya.

We have the devil’s own time keepin’ white ringers on the station. They start out all right, but none of them lasts a half-year. Most only last a few weeks and one was gone after three days. Rode out one night, not even bothering to pick up his pay. All our ringers are Boons.

Our head ringer, Fairbanks, told me his god puts a curse on the white men to make them leave.

“But I’m a white man, Fairbanks,” I said.  “I like it fine here.”

He gave me his big Abo grin. “That because you grandmother a Boon.”

It’s a ratbag thing to say to a boss,  but I can’t afford to fire him.

Besides, he’s probably right.


What Pegman Saw: Northern Territories, Australia

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  1. Dale

    You’ve got me Googling left, right and centre, Josh! When I doubt, I always look up. Abbo (gave me Abo) is like the equivalent of the N-word, apparently?
    And then Boon (gave me Boong) – meaning a derogatory term for Aboriginal; then I went to Boons which gave me the equivalent of living in the Boonies, rural place and then… I have spent a good 20 minutes learnin’ me new stuff!

    So, my bad, back to what I really want to say: I totally loved your story and you brought me right into the land.

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Thanks, Dale. Spelling noted and corrected. I had no idea it was so offensive. Nevil Shute’s character Joe Harmon uses both it and Boon to describe all the Aborigines in his novel. Hopefully nobody will be offended. I was trying to show a Queenslander’s thought.

      • Dale

        Just so you know, I wasn’t trying to correct you! I was sharing what I had discovered thanks to your great story. It could easily have been a variation on spelling, yanno like us Canadians with all those “U’s” ;-). I think people shouldn’t be offended as you are depicting something that was said and used by a people.
        Look at us, going to bed smarter tonight :D

  2. rochellewisoff

    Dear Josh,

    The last line had me laughing out loud. Tight dialogue gives characters and backstories. Well done.



    PS Walk right in, it’s around the back…just a half a mile from the railroad track. ;)

Don't just stand there.