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.