13th - 14th January 1933 (cont.) - Bony Bream Tillmeth, camel lore, horse trip

In the evening the whole crowd: stockmen, camel drivers and missionaries came over and we had a late night extracting the oil from them. The camel mailman, one Bony Bream Tillmeth was a real wizened up man of the desert and a tremendous mine of information. He ran a vaguely fortnightly run to Oodnadatta and back, knew everyone and every station for miles on each side, used the bed of the Finke as his highway, had 10-11 camels in his string, carried goods, mail orders etc. and women and blacks bought dresses, kitchen-ware, materials, cutlery, even sewing machines from his stocks.

People gave him money and orders for things they wanted from Adelaide or even Anthony Hordens in Sydney, and took delivery often six months later, knowing that he never forgot and was totally trustworthy. He was worth listening to but was talking of giving it up because of age.

Larnach and I were up well before light to try pumping Bony Bream some more, but he was so busy getting the train organized that we felt 'de trop'. Yet we learnt quite a bit just watching his skills with camels: some Afghan words that camels understand, some principals of loading, camel care, prevention and treatment of sore backs, and general sound advice and camel lore from an expert. I still find it hard to love camels though.

14th January 1933

After the camel train had padded away we spent most of the morning up at the stockyards watching the black stockboys breaking and riding the nags they had brought in: a very rough and ready process and certainly the dead opposite of the right way to handle horses that I learnt at Widden from Alf Thompson and Norman Larkin. There was no great future in being a horse in the Centre.

In the afternoon Murch did a quick portrait of me for practice and then did a really good one of Bony Bream and a black boy called Billy. We managed to get a few horses later on and Murch, Maurice, Davies and myself went off to see a spring a few miles away in the mountains. We were escorted by Kurt Johannsen, Miller and the mechanic called Course who was stranded in this place for a week.

We had a bit of rabbit shooting round the waterhole and then had tea. After dark we rode back a few miles and then left Miller to take Davies and the horses back to the mission. We then walked up into a gorge for a mile or so in the dark where we were supposed to find decent water.

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