One Galah

A fair dinkum Aussie story

During the great depression of the 1930s four Aussie blokes met on the road and as they walked they kicked rocks and ate the dust that rose from under their feet.

As time passed and the long paddock stretched on and on with no opportunity of bludging  a bite to eat, the blokes dropped their swags under an old gum tree and each bloke remembered better times.

First crack of the whip

The youngest bloke remembered rowing in the marshes and finding a pond divided in half by reeds blocking it in the middle.

As half the pond was filled with ducks he rowed his boat through the reeds making a straight opening that joined the two ponds.

Then he hid and waited and as expected the ducks filled the straight opening he had made.

“I fired straight down the line and killed over seventy ducks, what a feast I had,” said the youngest bloke.

Top this

“That’s pretty good for one person,” said the second bloke, “but let me tell you what me and my mate did one season”.

“We sees this lake black with ducks, too many to count, so we took two sticks and placed them in our rifles and stretched about 10 foot of wire between the sticks and aimed low and fired the trigger together – low and behold the wire passed straight along and cut off the ducks heads – just like a mowing machine.

“We killed over two hundred ducks with that one shot,” said the second bloke.

Shelia’s and blokes

Then the third bloke recounted his story, “By crickey I can remember when I was a young bloke, there I was in the paddock flying my kite and having a bloomin’ good time when a flock of geese came flying by and the leader of the flock got his head tangled in the kite-string.

“You know how geese will follow the leader wherever he goes, so I began pulling in the kite string with the leader entangled, as I hurried towards our big shed.

“Lucky the shed doors were open and I pulled the leader inside.

“Five hundred geese followed the leader inside and I quickly slammed the shed doors shut.

“That was the biggest S&B Ball you’ve ever seen, people came for miles around and it lasted a week,” said the third bloke.

Come in spinner

Three blokes had told their tale and now they all looked at the fourth bloke, in anticipation and wondered if he could top them?

The fourth bloke was old and knowing and after he had chewed the cud for a while said, “Before the depression I was a farmer and had bagged and stacked a large round heap of wheat.

“One morning I looked out the window and the wheat stack was completely covered with Galahs all squawking, tearing the bags open and a carrying on having a feast at my expense.

“I owned an old long barrel rifle from the war that would shoot for miles so I put the barrel over my knee and bent it into a semi-circle.

My oath

“Then I crept up to the wheat stack and aimed the rifle slightly slanted upward above my head and fired.

“Well blow me down if that dam bullet didn’t keep goin’ roun’ an’ roun’, an roun’ an roun’ that stack of grain till it killed nine hundred and ninety nine Galahs”, the old bloke boasted.

The youngest bloke, who had spoken first, interrupted and said sarcastically, “ Why don’t you make it an even thousand?”

“No fear”, said the oldest bloke, “I’m not the sort of man to tell a lie for the sake of one Galah”.


Footnotes / Resource

1. Connee-Colleen, © “Queanbeyan Outlook (145): Tall Tales,” The Queanbeyan Age, June 20, 2008, p. 28.
2. “Tale Tales” was adapted from an article “He wouldn’t lie” published in the  The Queanbeyan Observer & Mining Record, Queanbeyan NSW Australia, March 29, 1895. The 1895 article in the Observer was briefer and possibly came from USA as a “yarn” about ducks; this was adapted by Connee-Colleen in 2008 to be more Australian in character, flavour, jargon and extended in length. The location was changed to the 1930s depression in Australia when many Australian men took to the roads with their “swag” to try and make ends meet picking up odd jobs, for a few bob or a free meal. Australians like to “have you on” and this is one of those stories told with a straight face (in all seriousness and truthfulness) as each man tries to gain “one-up-man-ship” and out do each other to win the laugh at the end – dinki-di and ridgy didge!
3. Something tells me some people will need to use the “glossary page” to understand some of the Australian slang used in this story.

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