Billabong Dreamer

29 11 2006

“The setting of “Waltzing Matilda” is enough to fuel a deep yearning within Australians to escape from the concrete cities of the urban fringes. To travel the outback, with my swag all on my shoulder, to witness the stark beauty and isolation of this most ancient of lands, to lie beneath the Southern Cross, to smell the unique perfume of the eucalypt, is a dream, a quest that sends thousands of wanderers towards the red centre each year, in search of just such a place. To lie while the billy boils, to dream by a billabong, under the shade of a Coolabah tree is akin to finding the eternal Garden of Eden.” from Waltz with Matilda by Heather Blakey

My Grand Tour begins alongside one such Billabong. I bring just a swag, a billy and my companion animal


No utensil is so generally used in the bush as the billy-can; none is more widely distributed, none better known in Australia. It is cheap, light, useful and a burden to no man. It goes with every traveller, it figures in comedy, art, writing and tragedy, and has been the repository of the last words of many a perished swagman. Often it is found with the grim message scratched on the bottom beside the dead owner.

Billies are of all sizes – from one to six quartz. Some hard up swagmen improvise by making a billy out of a fruit tin, with a bit of fencing wire for a handle.

So while the billy sits on the fire boiling, and you wait for that bush tea, share a story or two with your friends.




7 responses

29 11 2006

Ah yes and the smoky smell of a gum leaf/wood fire- we have one going now( fire I mean outside- youa re all welcome to join us)- to burn off some of the leaf drop because it is so dry and we live in a high fire rsik area- but how it brings back campsites- and billy boiled tea!

And a swag is such an economical way to travel- no suitcases filled with stuff you never wear- just you and a few good yarns!

Thanks for the reminder.

30 11 2006

I love the image of the “red centre”. This can be a metaphor for the search to our own center, pulsing red with the interior life. Well stated.

30 11 2006

PS: Heather, you really write quite beautifully. We don’t get to see that too often. You should do it more. 🙂

30 11 2006

Makes me wistful for country drives. I love the bush.

1 12 2006

My mother used to sing Waltzing Mathilda to us… and I always wondered what a Billabong was… one day I will see for myself!

2 12 2006
Heather Blakey

🙂 Now if I can just find some time to write more pieces that will be a very good thing.

And I do love that Wombat sign Lori

Thanks everyone

2 12 2006

Oh I love that sign!

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