Category: Images of the Outback

The Parapitcheri

The Parapitcheri


This is the Parapitcheri waterhole, on the Georgina River west of Boulia. Charlie and the rest of the Durack party camped here with 7000 head of cattle for at least three months, waiting for rain to bring the drought-parched plains back to life so they could continue. It was a beautiful spot, though there was something eerie about the place; the lack of large trees for a start, but more than that. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but when we finally drove away over the low dunes and bulldust, I was happy to leave it behind.

Whistler’s Bones: A Novel of the Australian Frontier by Greg Barron is out now. You can find out more about it here,  purchase a paperback copy here, or buy the ebook version here.



Broadmere Waterhole

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 chiselled, ‘Here lies the head of E. Lenehan, murdered by blacks. Only part recovered.’ Below we cut the date.”

Visiting the area in July this year my wife and I searched the paperbarks that line Broadmere Waterhole, on the Parsons River, for the inscription Charlie described, but that tree must be long gone. These events described took place in the 1880s. By now the tree might have fallen into the waterhole, or rotted away.

The place does have a strange feeling to it. Charlie had never felt comfortable there. He wrote:

“The impression it gives one on first viewing it is, its uncanny stillness. Not a bird is to be seen. It strikes one that beneath that beautiful surface there is something deadly about the spot, and gives a weird uncanny feeling.”

I know what he meant.

Lo Res Cover

Whistler’s Bones by Greg Barron, the story of Charlie Gaunt, is out now. You can find out more about it here,  purchase a paperback copy here, or buy the ebook version here.


The Marion Sleigh

The Marion Sleigh

The Marion Sleigh bringing supplies to remote Gulf communities. (Photo: Mataranka Museum)

A ship like this steaming up Gulf rivers would raise a few eyebrows these days, but in the early 1900s the Marion Sleigh was a regular sight carrying supplies as far up as the Roper River Bar, and Borroloola on the Macarthur. The Marion Sleigh was of 506 tons burden, had a number of cabins for passengers, and often carried Darwinites who wanted a taste of adventure.

On one trip in 1926, a troupe of young ladies on a pleasure trip were forced to endure ten days stuck on a Macarthur River sandbar, followed by serious engine trouble, and finally a storm near Groote Eylandt that saw the Marion Sleigh almost founder several times.

The Marion Sleigh was sold in 1932, her engines converted to diesel, and she spent her final years in New Zealand waters.

Written and researched by Greg Barron

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