The Best Australian Bush Stories

By Jim Haynes | Go to book overview

ONE HUNDRED STUBBIES

KENNETH COOK

TO UNDERSTAND HOW THIS could happen, you have to know something about where it happened—Coober Pedy, an almost impossible town in the arid centre. Coober Pedy is an opal-mining town. The name is Aboriginal for ‘white man in a hole’. The ‘hole’ refers to the mines and to the houses, which are caves dug into the sides of low hills. In the summer the temperature averages around fifty degrees Celsius. You spend most of your time underground or in a pub, or you die.

I had driven up from Adelaide in an air-conditioned car and I thought I was going to die.

I saw Coober Pedy in the distance as thousands of tiny round bubbles in the shimmering desert heat haze. Soon these bubbles resolved themselves into the waste piles from the opal mines that stretch endlessly out from the town in all directions.

The whole area looks as though it is infested by the termites that build those huge nests of mud. Many of the mines are deserted and local legend has it that they contain the bones of reckless men who have welshed on gambling debts or tried robbing mines. I never actually heard of a skeleton being found.

The sight of the pub in Coober Pedy automatically brought my car to a halt. I needed cold beer, and lots of it. The heat out there is almost solid and you can feel it dropping on your head when you step out of the car. I trotted across to the pub, my whole being yearning for beer, totally unaware that I was about to witness an event that would put me off beer drinking for months.

-162-

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The Best Australian Bush Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part 1- Delights of the Bush 1
  • ‘Mallee Morning’ 3
  • The Killer Koala 5
  • The Delights of the Bush 12
  • The Tallagandra Turkey 16
  • The Hotel in Maryborough 21
  • Down among the Wombats 26
  • The Drunken Kangaroo 29
  • ‘The Drover’s Lament’ 36
  • Part 2- Bush Justice 37
  • ‘The Six-Stitcher’ 39
  • Bush Justice 40
  • The Irqnbark Chip 44
  • Here Comes the Bride 50
  • His Bad Luck 62
  • Shooting Stars 70
  • Marks’s Cutter 78
  • ‘A Walgett Episode’ 87
  • Part 3- Dave in Love 89
  • ‘To Many Ladies’ 91
  • The Wrong Turning 92
  • Spicer’s Courtship 97
  • Dave in Love 102
  • Poor Joe 106
  • Strawberry - A Love Story 113
  • A Box of Dead Roses 118
  • Drifted Back 122
  • ‘The Free-Selector’s Daughter’ 125
  • Part 4- There’s a Patron Saint of Drunks 127
  • ‘Drunks’ 128
  • Snakes and Alcohol 129
  • There’s a Patron Saint of Drunks 139
  • The Evenin’ before Leavin’ Home 146
  • The Six O’Clock Swells 150
  • Where the Cooler Bars Grow 158
  • One Hundred Stubbies 162
  • ‘The Alcoholics’ Creed’ 172
  • Part 5- To the City 173
  • ‘simple Sister Goes to Sydney’ 175
  • The Waybacks Go to Sydney 177
  • A Zack to Central 191
  • The Downfall of Mulligan’s 198
  • To the City 203
  • Miner’s Holiday 211
  • ‘Westward HQ!’ 217
  • Part 6- Benefit of Clergy 219
  • ‘God and Poets’ 221
  • I Used to Read the Comics First 222
  • The Reign of Eugene Ham 229
  • Benefit of Clergy 241
  • A Sabbath Morn at Waddy 245
  • Bill’s Religion 251
  • Everyone Liked Father Connolly 254
  • First Confession 259
  • The Parson’s Blackboy 264
  • ‘The Parson and the Prelate’ 269
  • Part 7- The Conquering Bush 271
  • ‘spinifex’ 273
  • The First Bush Fire 275
  • The Drover’s Wife 280
  • Mallee 289
  • An Error in Administration 296
  • The Feud 299
  • The Conquering Bush 304
  • Rats 309
  • ‘The Wind That Buries the Dead’ 313
  • Part 8- The Night We Watched for Wallabies 315
  • ‘Picking Lemons’ 317
  • The Night We Watched for Wallabies 318
  • Crutching the Rams 322
  • Conversation in a Pantry 328
  • Possum Gully 335
  • Old Heinrich and the Lambing Ewe 343
  • ‘success’ 351
  • Part 9- The Lost Souls’ Hotel 353
  • ‘After Many Years’ 355
  • ‘Bring Your Fiddle, Joe’ 357
  • Going Blind 367
  • A Letter from Colleen 374
  • The Hagney Affair 381
  • The Lost Souls’ Hotel 391
  • ‘Question Not’ 402
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