Wallaby Freedom (Gavin Playfair, Henry Lawson &c…)

First, copy/pastes of a status+comments of an fb post by Tony Convey:
wallaby playfair

tc postcoms 1
tc postcoms 2
A wallaby (one of about 30 Australian macropod species) is smaller than a kangaroo, a nomadic herbivore (or vegan) that wanders or explores through its typical kind of habitat (there are swamp wallabies, brush wallabies, and rock wallabies). In the (Anglo)Australian culture it has long been associated (tho perhaps not too many remember this today) with the idea of freedom (perhaps ever since the great Australian poet Henry Lawson published his poem “Freedom on the Wallaby” in 1891, & has often meant something like wandering and exploring freely (usually physically, in more remote areas of Australia such as the bush and the outback, but surely also symbolically of more than only physical free wandering and exploring.) So, next: Henry Lawson’s “Freedom on the Wallaby” (1891) , with some explanations of Australian vernacular words of the time that appear in the poem & some allusions to its current relevance.
Freedom on the Wallaby crop

Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

Henry Lawson (1867-1922)








In 19th- & early 20th-century Australian slang, “humping bluey” meant carrying a “swag”, a roll of blankets used for sleeping outdoors. Itinerant wanderers, seekers of work, etc., were often called “swagmen”.

“On the wallaby” (or “on the wallaby track”) meant to be on the move.

“Cooey” was a loud call used to get attention out in the bush, or outback. find missing people, or indicate one’s own location. The word originates from the Dharuk language of the original inhabitants of the Sydney area. It means “come here” and has now become widely used in Australia as a call over distances.

A “billy” was a tin can used for boiling water on a camp fire.

The wattle is Australia’s “national” flower.

& as for contemporary relevance: the budget & other practices & policies of the present government of (does this it word still meant have its original & fundamental semantic meaning?) “Commonwealth of Australia” (& of so many governments elsewhere where corporate power rules) should be enough to show what’s still happening even more (& let’s hope the rebel flag does rise, but with more creative & humane ways than those that have already stained & are still staining so much more than tbe wattle).


(Annotations adapted from http://mike-servethepeople.blogspot.com.au/2006/12/freedom-on-wallaby.html & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooee)

& now, some lines & 3 pics from an album I posted on fb on 140914:

A Wallaby Visit We Old’uns Disturbed…

N said, Hey, there’s a wallaby out front,
& i left my PC to see, & yes, it was closer to our home
than any I’ve seen. She brought her camera, I grabbed my ipad,
& advanced o-so-slowly, step-stop-click-step-stop-click
to pic & not disturb, like in that kids’ game where you advance
when the seeker’s not looking. The wallaby didn’t seem flustered,
checking me out from time time & bending back to her feeding,
turning this way or that way, & back down to the patch
that had something s/he liked there, & N said she wished
it was in the sunny part, & I wished i had a zoom lens.
i took 39 pics before s/he decided i might be a danger
& i was sorry s/he did, but not that I’d had this experience
& hope s/he’ll come back some time & feed & feel safe here…
& here are two of my pics, & one N took of me taking them.
wallaby 13wallaby 7croopwallaby 8


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