Category: Whistler’s Bones

Bringing Australia's History to Life

Broadmere

As an old man Charlie Gaunt wrote in the Northern Standard Newspaper (May 29 1934): “The head of (Edward) Lenehan we wrapped in a saddlecloth and carried into Broadmere. At the foot of one of those giant paper bark trees it now rests and with the help of a carpenter’s chisel, stripping the bark, we…
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Lake Nash: A harrowing tale of drought and disaster

In 1889 Charlie Gaunt was working on Lake Nash Station, near the NT/Queensland border first breaking horses and then as a stockman. Lake Nash Station was, at the time Charlie arrived there, under the ownership of John Costello. John’s pride and joy, Valley of Springs Station had, by this stage, been abandoned. John Costello’s son…
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The Slave Ship

Charlie Gaunt was in his late thirties, veteran of the Northern Territory cattle trails, and a hard-fought Boer War, when he began several decades of international wandering. His willingness to work as a seaman took him wherever he wanted to go. Since Whistler’s Bones is essentially a novel about Charlie’s Australian experiences, there was no…
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The Wanderer

One of the most touching stories from Charlie Gaunt’s later years came from a time when he’d left the Australian outback far behind and wandered the Western States of America as a hobo. This is one of many periods of his life there just wasn’t room for in the book. “From Colorado I hopped fast…
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Pearling on the Mona

One of the parts of Charlie Gaunt’s life that I would have liked to explore more in Whistler’s Bones, but it didn’t fit into the story, was his years skippering a pearl lugger out of Broome in the 1890s. Charlie was able to throw in with a partner, a local businessman called Stanley Piggott, to…
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Tom Kilfoyle

Tom Kilfoyle, a cousin of the pioneering Durack family, was Charlie Gaunt’s boss for much of the 1883-6 overland drive from the Channel Country in Queensland to Rosewood Station in the Kimberleys. Tom was born in County Clare, Ireland in 1842 but became a highly skilled bushman. Interestingly, he later married Catherine Byrne, a close…
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Dunwich Benevolent Asylum

If you’ve read Whistler’s Bones you’ll know that Charlie Gaunt died at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on January 29, 1938 of myocarditis and a rodent ulcer. His was just one of ten or more thousand, mainly unmarked, graves that lie beneath the sands of North Stradbroke Island. The Dunwich Benevolent Asylum first opened in 1865…
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