Saturday, November 29, 2014


During  WWll, English author , Dr Thomas Wood,  wrote  a book extolling  the  virtues of Australia  and  Australians  fighting  against the  Germans. Called  Cobbers  Campaigning ,  published by  Angus and Robertson Ltd , Sydney  and  London,1940, it was supported by the  Duchess of Kent, who posed for  the frontispiece, right .  Wood  had written an earlier book, Cobbers , based on his travels through Australia  before  the  war ,  parts of   which  are  included  in  this book and  are still relevant to  the present . 

Of deep concern to him  on the   trip  had been  "the murdering of trees  in Australia " . He had seen the vast  sands of Egypt and  the vast desolate plains in  Canada which once  grew food  for  herds of moose  and now grew  sandstorms -nothing else. He could cite no  grimmer warning against ignorance , or greed.
Kill the trees and strip the soil  and you get  a desert. Already there is  enough  of that in  the world ; in Australia , too much...But when soil and climate are  tampered with  by  human interference  the last word is with Nature ;she does not learn -she knows ; and she is merciless .There is only one  way to stave of disaster , and  that is to tip the balance back  to what it was : now, before it is too late. Don't ringbark  all . Where you can , plant... 
On the subject of  politics in Australia , the  view had  been expressed  to  him that  too often it  sank down to a   slanging  match .  On  the need for population in the North  , would proposed Jewish enclaves work  or " is infiltration the only sound procedure ?"

Wood recalled how Australians  -boundary riders, shearers, cattlemen,lumpers, fossickers and spruce young city workers from George Street and Wattle Avenue and    Anzac  Parade - had crowded in to sign up and  grab  a rifle to fight in the first world war . The author  gave examples of the  same keenness  to enlist  when the  second  great  war  broke out :
R.G.Milton,22,was on Spring Creek Station in the Kimberley when he heard about the  war. Within an hour he was on the trail for  Wyndham ,where he could get a ship bound north for Darwin. His bluey and groundsheet were all he  carried . He lived on lizards  and wild  gooseberries .That tramp is 140 miles. He did it in  three and a half days.  
Constable Joseph  Sampson of the  Northern Territory Police chartered  a plane  from his headquarters  near  Lake Nash -look at the map- to Cloncurry (Queensland ) , and  flew on  by service  plane to  Brisbane, in order to enlist the   quicker. The bill for all this ardour was 42 pound 15 shillings . He paid it .
C.L.Terry, 24 ,was working at Finke , near the South Australian border,when he got the news. He jumped the rattler  for 140 miles to Alice Springs ; rode on motor trucks  and the mail lorry  for the next 650 miles to Birdum, and then  jumped  the  rattler  for  the next 300 miles  to Darwin .
 G. Williams, 33 ,a gold prospector, joined him at Tennant Creek ,after walking  for more than  a 100 miles .The mailman shouted that  the war was on  as  he  drove by.
William Raymond Salton, 20 , took three weeks to ride  1000 miles between Tennant Creek and Bourke . He left his horse  at Bourke and  took the  train 500 miles  to  Sydney. They say he  heard  about  the war by  pedal  wireless. 
 Proceeds  from the  book went to the  Australian Red Cross . Our  foxed copy obtained from  a  secondhand  bookshop  in  the Smith Street  Mall, Darwin.