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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 01 (Raw)

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Respondent Interviewer
IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:37:02
Trish FitzSimons
Edna Zigenbine
Griffith Film School
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So this is Tape 1 of the Film of the Research Shoot for Channels of History. Its 2nd June 2000, Trish FitzSimons recording, camera Erica Addis on camera. This is DAT Tape 1 and it’s Camera Tape 1. DAT Tape 1 will cover Camera Tapes 1 and 2. And it’s going to be an interview with Edna Jessop/Zigenbine. Recorded 2nd June 2000 Transcript Updated 15 December 2009. Timecode matches tape 01_BC_DV Topics are in Bold
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 01
Class Droving
Some vision out of focus after camera movements. Sound issues near end of tape.
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Edna Jessop
Interview with Edna Jessop - Tape 01 of 03
part of:
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 01
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                      Recorded 2nd June 2000
               Transcript Updated 15 December 2009.
                 Timecode matches tape 01_BC_DV
                         Topics are in Bold

                            I = Interviewer         R = Respondent

    So this is Tape 1 of the Film of the Research Shoot for Channels of
    History. Its 2nd June 2000, Trish FitzSimons recording, camera Erica
    Addis on camera. This is DAT Tape 1 and it’s Camera Tape 1. DAT
    Tape 1 will cover Camera Tapes 1 and 2. And it’s going to be an
    interview with Edna Jessop/Zigenbine.

I   Tell me what your name was when you were born and where you were born
    and when. Just so we get the facts straight.

R   00:00:34:00        Well, I was born in Thargomindah in the bottom end of
    Queensland and my name was Edna Zigenbine then. My Mum and Dad
    were Zigenbines. Harry and Ruby Zigenbine their name was. Now I’m
    Edna Jessop. I don’t know what …

I   So Zigenbine, is that a Polish name? What’s its history?

R   00:01:01:00        Oh, I think it’s got a bit of Polish and German. German, I
    think, mainly. German, I think Dad was German.

I   Do you think your Dad had been born in Germany?

R   00:01:11:00        No, my Dad was born in Charters Towers and Mum was born
    in Sydney but Mum’s got a bit of Polish in her, I think. [Hammistead??] is
    Polish, I think.

I   So how had your parents landed up in Thargomindah?

R   Droving
    00:01:34:22 Well they met in Hughenden.            Dad was working in
    Hughenden and Mum was working at the hospital in Cloncurry. She was
    wardsmaid there. And they met there and they got married and then they
    went droving, and they were droving for Sidney Kidman, and that’s how they
    ended up down south. Dad was droving for Sidney Kidman and some of us
    were born down there. Me and Cathy, both sisters, we were both born in
    Thargomindah and Eileen was born in Marree but the other boys, I think they
    started to come back … one was born in Towers, I think.

    Oh, they were born everywhere. Andy was born in the bush. One brother.
    And my sister, last sister, she was born in the bush. 00:02:31:10

I   So when you say you were born at Thargomindah, do you know any details
    of that? Like, in a hospital or with a midwife at home, or ...?

R   00:02:38:21    No, in hospital, I think. I don’t know. I never, ever found out
    off my Mum. But no, in hopsital, I think.

I   And what year was that?

R   It must have been 1926. That’s my birthdate, 1926.

I   And so what do you reckon is your earliest memory, Edna?

R   Education
    Oh, I don’t know. We remembered a bit about Dajarra when I went to
    school there. I started to go to school there but I never got out of A-B-C.
    And then Dad shifted us down to a place down near, down the
    out in                       . He left us there for a while.

I   What’s that place? I can’t catch that name.

R   [Butry??] Siding it was. The common, between Dajarra and Duchess. He
    left us there for a long time and he was still droving. And we used to just
    spell our horses there at a common there. Spell our plant there. And then in
    1942 we went to Wave Hill. Started droving for Lord Vestey droving out
    that way.

I   So that was, you were in your mid-twenties then?

R   Droving: Women and Work

    Oh, no, when we first went out I was only … I wasn’t 16 the first trip we
    come in with. I turned 16 at Moorestone the first load of cattle we brought
    in. We … then he kept droving for old Vestey then for a good long time,
    anyway, a few years. But me and Dad, we drove, we drove for Banka
    Banka, we drove for Western Australia, we took one mob from Western
    Australia in, brought them in to Dajarra. That was the second last mob Dad
    done, he was sick, poor old fella.

I   And so while you were a child, Edna, you Mum was having kids along the
    way. Would she stay in town while your Dad droved, or would your Mum
    travel with your Dad?

R   Mum went with Dad all the time, travelling with Dad. I suppose she stayed
    in hospital long enough, for a couple of days, I suppose, but she reared all us
    kids on the road, in the bush. We were all reared in the bush.

I   So what do you think, like if you were to just bring up in your mind, a day in
    your mother’s life. Say, when you were five or six, what do you think that
    day would have looked like? Because it’s got a whole rhythm to it, droving,
    that I think those of us who haven’t done it don’t really understand and I’d
    love you to tell me about what the rhythm of life on the road would have
    been when you were a kid.

R   Droving/Childbirth
    00:05:25:05    Well, I don’t remember that much about the rhythm. I was a
    little toddler but Mum used to have to do the cooking and on the road, you’re
    out in the bush, eh? And you’ve got a tent, that’s all. You’ve got to rig a
    tent up to sleep in. Mum used to. But we were always, you know, out in the
    bush, well I suppose we’d done our … Mum done our washing and
    everything. You had to do it all in the bush and just from day to day, you’re
    just travelling all the time, with cattle. Or if you wasn’t travelling with
    cattle, you were travelling with a plant, going back to get cattle, but you’re
    on the move all the time.

I   When you talk about ‘plant’, what do you mean? I don’t understand what
    droving plant is, actually.

R   Well, it’s a mob of horses. Well, I’ll say. We had 60 head of horses, we had,
    my Dad had a wagonette, Cobb & Co. That was when we were little fellas.
    And that was when we were down south, down the bottom end of
    Queensland, he had this Cobb & Co. coach and then when we left to go to
    the Territory we had a rubber-tyred cart and we had about 60 head of horses,
    but if you’ve got a cart you don’t need so many packs but if you haven’t got
    a cart you need a lot of packs.

I   By ‘packs’, you mean pack horses?

R   Packs. Yes, pack horses. Well, when we had a cart, we had about 12 packs,
    I suppose, and we still had the packs because there were so many of us, we
    had to carry the gear. But we always had round about the 12 or 14 packs and
    when we didn’t have the cart well it was still the same, you know, we always
    had the packs to carry our gear in. The swags and tucker and stuff.

I   So was your Mum looking after you kids and cooking for everybody else on
    the road? Like, the other drovers?

R   For the men, yes, what Dad had working for him, yes. There was, Mum used
    to do the cooking.

I   So what sort of time do you reckon your Mum would have got up in the
    morning when you were on the road?

R   Women and Work – Cooking

    00:07:48:14    Well, the cook had to get up at 4 o’clock. The cook and horse
    tailer           got up at 4 o’clock. The cook had to cook the breakfast and
    about 5 o’clock you’d call the rest of the men and they had their breakfast
    and took the cattle off camp.

I   And what would breakfast consist of?

R   Oh, I suppose a stew or steak and eggs. I don’t know, we never had any
    eggs. We just had steak and gravy. Mum used to cook steak and gravy or
    make a stew or curry or something like that. That’s all.

I   Would you have milk when you were on the road?
R   Oh, we had only powdered milk. Powdered milk in tins. Oh, we always had
    plenty of tucker. Plenty of meat. We used to kill our own bullocks. But we
    always had plenty of tucker but we never had any … we very seldom had
    butter. We had butter sometimes. You’d come to a store and we’d get butter
    but you’d run out through the bloody, along the road you’d run out and go

I   Do you ever remember being hungry?

R   Oh, I don’t think so. Not really hungry. Never were, we were always … we
    seemed to have always have plenty of tucker and stuff. Mum and Dad were
    pretty good.

I   So your parents, your father would have owned all these horses and this

R   Yeah, Dad owned them all.

I   He would have borrowed money from a bank or …?

R   Pastoral Industry: Droving, Shooting.

    Oh, no, no. I don’t think so. No. He gets it from when he was droving. He
    got money from droving cattle. When we … for a few years we used to
    kangaroo shoot when there was no cattle, when Dad finished droving. Him
    and my brothers, the eldest brothers, used to go kangaroo shooting till the
    next year when the droving started again, we’d go droving again.

I   So what time of the year would the droving happen in?

R   00:09:53:00    Oh, this time now. Winter time. Cold. In the cold weather,
    because it’s better for the cattle. In the cold weather.

I   So then your Dad would spend the summertime shooting ‘roos.

R   Yeah.

I   And did you ever take part in that at all, Edna?
R   Kangaroo shooting? Oh, we used to do a little bit. We used to have to …
    they made us do all the hard work. We used to have to clean all the hides
    and peg them out and everything like that, mainly. That’s what we used to
    have to do. The brother, Jack, he was a good shot. Dad was a good shot and
    they used to do most of the shooting. They used to do it all, I suppose, but
    oh we used to do a little bit but we didn’t do much. We had to clean the
    hides and peg them out.

I   Was it like you were expected to start working at a very young age, Edna, or
    did you spend a lot of your childhood playing?

R   Education, Work: Leatherwork

    Oh, we had a lot of play. We would spend a lot of time playing because we
    didn’t have any bloody schooling. We didn’t have school to go to. We had a
    fair bit of play. But, I don’t know, we used to … it was pretty hard when you
    had cattle on the road, but it was a pretty easy life otherwise. Not much to do
    but when I grew up, when I got going I learnt to do leather work and I used
    to, me and Dad used to do all our own saddles and packs up, counter line
    them, make all our gear up until next year, ready for the road again.

I   So what sort of things would you and your Dad make up?

R   Oh, well, you’d counter line the saddles and packs and any broken bridles,
    and make hobbles, and get everything ready, and make our own hobbles.
    Neck straps and stuff for the horses.

I   So that would be leather work and metal work together?

R   Oh, no, it would be all leather work. Mainly leather work. Fixing hobbles
    and fixing packs up, or broken chains. You might have had to fix a broken
    hobble chain up with a link or something, but that’s all.

I   And the leather work, would it be leather that came from the cattle you were
    droving or did you, you’d buy the leather? Like, where did the leather come
R   00:12:17:14    Oh, we used to have to buy it. Buy the leather. Buy the sides
    of leather. Dad used to get it in sides, sides of harness leather from the
    shops. I don’t know where he got it from but he got it, I suppose all the
    shops used to carry it them days because there were so many drovers, and
    had to keep leather on all the time. Have plenty of leather in their shops.

I   And, Edna, it sounds like you and your Dad, because you were one of eight
    kids, weren’t you?

R   Mmmm.

I   Were you and your Dad especially close?

R   Father/Daughter
    Oh, we were, I suppose, in the finish of our life we were because Cathy went
    away and married and Eileen was married and we were pretty close at the
    finish, in the last few years, me and Dad was.

I   Your Dad was sick from when you were quite young, was he?

R   Oh, no, he only started getting sick in … he had a bad fall coming down with
    a mob of [Elroy??] cows and                      fell over with him on watch one
    night, galloping. And he started to get sick, oh, oh I just forget when he
    started to get sick. I know he was pretty crook in 1950. He was very, very
    crook then. It must have been in the forties he started getting crook. The old
    injury just starts coming back to him. In 1950 was when he was very bad
    and in 1952 he done one more mob and then that was it, no more, he couldn’t
    do any more. He had, I don’t know what was wrong with him. He had a
    busted kidney and had a kidney taken out and he was in a pretty bad way.
    He used to suffer bad.

I   So did you start to take over your Dad’s responsibilities as he started to get

R   Droving
    Yeah. I knew what to do. I always learnt what to do but … knew I had to do
    it, it was just the worry of doing things but I knew how to do things, but I just
    had to … oh, you’d just take over, I suppose, it’s just a thing that comes to
    you and you’ve got to do it, and you’ve got to do it. And you go.

I   And was it you, Edna, because you were the eldest, or because you were very
    close to your father?

R   00:14:49:23    No, I wasn’t the eldest. There was six older than me but
    they’d left Dad. Jack had left, Jack my second eldest brother, he had his own
    plant, and the oldest brother, he just went away, he didn’t have any plant but
    he just went away. And Eileen, the eldest girl, she got married and then
    Cathy got married. And then there was only me and Dad and Andy, the
    brother younger than me, and Mum give it up in, I don’t know what year
    Mum give it up, but in 1950 they were … oh, I don’t know, I was working in
    Tennant Creek. Me and my brother Joe, he wanted to get away from Dad
    and he worked with a carpenter, and I went down to Tennant Creek, and I got
    a job at the hospital there. And in 1950 Dad rang me up and asked me would
    I come back. So I went back to him and then I stayed with him and then in
    1952, and then I got married then and poor old Dad was in hospital all the
    time. I got married and then me and my husband took the plant over.

I   So you would have been, what, 24, 25?

R   Mmmm, I suppose about that. About that.

I   So where did you meet your husband, Edna?

R   In Winton. In Winton. We were doing a mob of Banker Bankers in there,
    me and Dad, in 1952.

I   I don’t understand what ‘banker bankers’ are. What’s that?

R   That was the name of the station. That was the name of the station. Banker

I   And where abouts is Banker Banker?

R   Out in the Territory, up from Tennant Creek. Between Tennant Creek and
    Newcastle Waters, on the side there. Oh, a bit off the bitumen there, it is.
    But Bedford, it’s away out in Western Australia, Bedford. The 1950 mob we
    took from out there.

I   So all this droving from Western Australia and Northern Territory to
    Queensland, what was that about? Like, why did you have to bring the stock
    to Queensland from Western Australia?

R   Droving – Process / Pastoral Industry

    00:17:25:15     Well, them days they didn’t have road trains much, eh? They
    didn’t have many road trains them days and it’s just sort of come in in the
    late … oh I don’t know when the road trains started to come in, in the sixties
    I think, they were coming in and then the droving sort of went away. Took
    over the droving. There was no road trains in them days. There might have
    been a few, but not many.

I   And so you were bringing the cows from Western Australia. Would they get
    … where would the cows actually …?

R   Bullocks, they weren’t cows. They were bullocks. They were bullocks, they
    weren’t cows.

I   Right. And where would the bullocks get slaughtered?

R   Well, I don’t know, in the meatworks, I suppose. They went down, we
    trucked them in Dajarra and that was the Bedford mob, and we trucked them
    in Dajarra. A hell of a lot of cattle got trucked in Dajarra, all of Vestey, I
    think they just went down to the meatworks. I don’t know where they went,
    what meatworks they were killed in, but they went down to the meatworks
    and got killed. I don’t know which one, though, mate I don’t know.

I   So it was usually Dajarra would be the end of your droving trips?

R   Yeah, we trucked a lot of cattle in Dajarra and when we started droving for
    Lord Vestey, we used to bring a mob in from Wave Hill, take them into
    Moorestone, up near Camooweal, and then get a mob of fats from there into
    Dajarra and truck them.
I   And what’s a ‘fat’, Edna?

R   Bullocks are fat bullocks. When they’re fat. When they spell them, you
    know, and get fat.

I   So before you start droving them?

R   Pastoral Industry

    Mmmm. Yeah, when they’re the best … well, when they’re on the station
    they pick out the best cattle that they can, you know, the fattest bullocks, and
    they make a mob up. And, say, if I brought a mob in, I might bring a mob in
    this year and they’d let them go, spell them, and next year they’d be fresh
    and fat and they’d send them on the road again for fats. To the meatworks
    for fats. Called them ‘fats’.

I   Was the droving always about bringing the cows from the station to the
    railhead so they could be slaughtered, or were you sometimes, like for
    Vesteys or Kidman, moving the bullocks from one property to another?

R   Droving – Pastoral Companies

    00:19:54:05    No, no. That was done a bit on the station. Yeah, that was
    done a bit. You might bring a mob in. I don’t know, we never done it but …
    we used to do it from Wave Hill. We’d bring a mob from Wave Hill and
    we’d put them on Moorestone. Moorestone’s another station that belonged
    to Vesteys. And they’d leave them there, let them go there and spell them
    and then probably next year or the year after, when them bullocks got fat,
    they’d send them to Dajarra and truck them and they’d go on to the
    meatworks then. Truck them and they’d go down to the meatworks. Where,
    I don’t know where they went, but we used to just put them on the train and
    … By the time they walked from Wave Hill, the poor old buggers were
    always poor and tired. So they’d leave them spell for a while.

I   How about you? How long a spell would you get between droving trips?
    Because you must have been pretty tired at the end of those trips, too.
R   Oh, yeah. You get used to it. Get used to it. The old horses get a bit tired
    but … oh, well, we’d have, say we delivered before Christmas, we’d have till
    next year before we’d start again. Oh, we’d have a few months, I suppose.

I   So over the hottest time of the year, you’d rest.

R   Yeah.

I   And that’s when … how old do you think you would have been when your
    Mum stopped going on the track?

R   History
    Oh, I was already in my twenties when Mum stopped droving. It must have
    been in … I just don’t know because I wasn’t interested in times and dates
    them years. I just … times and dates. I know, it must have been in … I’ve
    got my other date up there, I should have got it out, I suppose, but I think it
    was 1946 or something, and Mum and I went down to Tennant Creek for a
    while but she gave it away, oh I don’t know love, I just can’t remember what
    year what she give it away.

I   Don’t worry about that. That doesn’t matter at all. While we’re just talking
    sort of about dates, did the depression, I mean you would have been a child
    all during the depression, and there was a bad drought, too, wasn’t there, in
    the late twenties?

R   00:22:18:00    Yeah. There was. We were down at [Butry??] then, when the
    depression was on, because we used to see lots of old, lots of people, lots of
    bagmen we used to call them, poor buggers, then. Bagmen. And we used to
    have to dig for water and everything. We had no water, local water, we used
    to have to dig for it. Dig soaks in the river.

I   Because there was a drought on at the same time as the depression?

R   Mmmm. Yeah. Well, I suppose it would have been, might have been too.
    Yeah. But it was a drought anyway. And when the drought come, we used
    to always have to dig for water. Dig soaks for water, water the horses.
I   So how would you know where to dig, Edna?

R   Oh, I don’t know, you’d just sort of work it out when you get into a river.
    Work it out where you think water’s pretty close. You seemed to work it
    out. You seemed to know. I don’t know. You’d pick a place where there’s
    not much sand, or something, I don’t know how we used to do it.

I   Can you get good water out of a soak like that or is it always pretty dusty?

R   Oh, yeah. No, beautiful water. Beautiful clear water, out of a sandy creek
    you can. Out of a sandy creek it’s beautiful water. Beautiful and clear. But
    we never had much. When we lived … Dad always stayed at [Butry??] and
    we never had any bloody luxuries. We never had a house to live in, we only
    had tents and …

I   How many tents would your family of 10 have lived in in [Butry??]?

R   Oh (laughs). I don’t know, only a couple, I suppose. A couple or three. We
    had one big tarpaulin. We used to get under that. We had beds and things.

I   What were your beds made from?

R   Oh, I don’t know. I think Dad … I think we did have a couple of beds there.
    Dad must have got them from somewhere, I don’t know where, but we had a
    couple. Some of us had beds. Some of us had swags. Just lay on the
    ground. Didn’t have any mattress, you don’t need them when you’re a kid
    anyway, really.

I   And, Edna, I think I said in my letter that I talked to Isabel Tarrago. Do you
    remember Topsy Hansen?

R   Oh, actually, I don’t know. A lot of women come and talk to me. I can’t
    remember names.

I   Topsy Hansen’s an Aboriginal woman that was the station cook at Glen
    Ormiston for a long time.

R   Race Relations/Edna and Topsy
    00:25:05:07    Yeah, well I don’t remember that at all. We drove for Glen
    Ormiston, me and my husband drove for Glen Ormiston, not my father. My
    father never, not in my day, he never took Glen Ormiston cattle. But me and
    my husband drove for Glen Ormiston cattle and we took fats. But I don’t
    understand that letter because I can’t … I can understand the letter but I can’t
    understand where she reckoned we wanted tucker because we always had our
    own tucker. Unless we wanted a bag of … we might have wanted a bag of
    sugar or something like that, but I can’t see .. because when you go, when we
    went for a mob of cattle we always had plenty of tucker because you fill your
    packs up before you went to get a mob of cattle and                      cattle.
    The only thing you want off the station might be, you might want a bag of
    flour or bloody a bit of meat or something. It might have been meat I
    wanted. I might have asked a bloke for meat.

I   See, it was Isabel who told me this story, Edna, is about … oh, she’s 48, so
    she herself doesn’t remember this but it was her mother, Topsy Hansen, who
    was the Aboriginal woman that was the station cook at Glen Ormiston.

R   Class
    Yeah, it might have been meat. It might have been meat. I might have
    wanted meat off them because sometimes you go to a station and when we
    used to go to a station, we’d want meat. Because if you didn’t get meat off
    them, you’d have to kill a bullock and then you’d have to kill one of theirs
    and then you’d get in trouble by killing it, until you got delivery of your own
    mob. Once you got your own mob you were right, you had them to kill when
    you wanted meat. But that’s the only thing I can see I wanted off them was
    meat. I might have wanted meat off them and they wouldn’t give them to
    you. It’s something they wouldn’t do, either. Station people wouldn’t give it
    to you.

I   What would they say?

R   Oh, you’re bloody lousy, I suppose. Reckon they never had it, or something.
    But you only wanted meat if you were going for a mob of cattle. You
    wouldn’t want meat once you got on the road with a mob of cattle because
    you had your own meat.

I   So it would be when you were waiting to collect your mob?

R   00:27:26:00     Yeah. It must have been when we were waiting to collect the
    mob that I asked them. It must have been meat. It wouldn’t have been
    anything else, I don’t think. But we would have had plenty of tucker.

I   Did you work a lot with Aboriginal people, Edna?

R   Droving/ Race Relations

    We always had Aboriginal people with us, on the road and droving, out in
    the Territory. Old blackfellas, poor old fellas. But I liked them. We used to
    like them. We used to call them lubras, the old gins, but I never found
    anything wrong with them in them days. It’s only today they’ve got too
    much bloody white blood in them today, that’s why they think they’re good.
    But the old blackfellas, they’re good old fellas. We always had them on the
    road with us.

I   So would you have Aboriginal women on the road with you as well?

R   No, not Aboriginal women. We only had boys. Black boys, we used to call
    them. We always had them on the road, with the Territory mob anyway.

I   Did you ever run across Ruby De Satge on the road?

R   Yeah, I knew Ruby.

I   Because she was an Aboriginal woman that droved, wasn’t she?

R   Yeah. She was a good woman. She was a good woman, a good hard worker.
    She’s dead now, poor old thing.

I   Yeah, she died just very recently, didn’t she?

R   Mmmm.
I        So when you had Aboriginal boys on your droving team, were they paid
         wages the same as the other drovers, or how did that work?

R        Aboriginal Wages

         They weren’t paid as much money, poor buggers. We fed them. We always
         fed them, give them clothes, and looked after them there, but the law them
         days was that when you finished with the boys you wrote a cheque out for
         them and you give it to the policeman, or whoever, policeman at wherever
         we were, at the town, and they’d take their share out of it. I don’t know what
         they used to do, but they’d take money out of it and then give the poor old
         blackfella just a couple of dollars. I don’t know how much they got but they
         didn’t get much but … I don’t know how it worked them days, really. It
         shouldn’t have been done like that but that’s the way they used to do it. We
         always looked after our old boys.

I        And were they separated out in the droving group at all or were you all

R        00:29:58:10    No, they were separated because they were dirty. They never
         used to wash and they had their own camp. They had their little camp over
         from us a little bit and used to make their own fire. Had their own swags.
         We used to feed them and cut their tucker off, always cut their tucker off for


R        But they were fed well, our boys were, anyway. Some of them might have
         had it hard but our old fellas never. What we ate, they ate. Everything we
         ate, they ate. Sweets, if we had sweets, they’d have it.

I        What sort of sweets would you have on the road?

R        Oh, I don’t know.      We used to make roly-poly, jam roly-polies, plum
         puddings and dough boys and oh, lots of things. Good tucker, always had
         good tucker. Make steamed puddings and stuff like that.
I   Did you ever run across Bill Gorringe on the road? He was droving for
    Kidman down the southern part of the Channel Country.

R   No, I wouldn’t have. No, I would have been too young to remember that. I
    would have been too young to remember that. I don’t remember much when
    we were down that country. I remember only when we come back up.

I   So, Edna, you were often the only woman or almost the only woman on the

R   Droving/Women
    Oh, no, there were a lot of women on the road. A lot of women worked with
    their husbands and a lot of women in them days, I think, worked with their
    husbands. Cooked and everything like that. But how I come to get, is when
    I took the plant over. I seemed to be the only boss woman in charge of a
    mob of cattle. That’s how they started with me. Because I don’t think there
    was any boss or drover women as they call them. But I was in charge, more
    or less in charge of a mob, you know. If you had a droving plant and you’d
    put me in charge of it, well that’s what Dad done, he put me in charge of his
    plant and I had to take over the plant till he come back. And that’s how they
    started all these stories about me.

I   What were those stories?

R   00:32:35:19    Oh, all them write-ups they put in about me, because … there
    was a fellow at Newcastle Waters, the postman at Newcastle Waters started
    it all.

I   Tell me about some of those write-ups.

R   Droving/Gender Relations

    Oh, my dear, they started in 1950 when I brought the cattle in, when Dad got
    sick in the middle of the                  there. There was a hawker bloke
    come to us one night, Mr ah, oh what is it, I can’t remember his name, Top
    Springers, he had a store out in Top Spring and he was coming in and I asked
    him would he take Dad to hospital. Dad was bleeding – he used to bleed
    from his penis and he used to have to block himself up with cotton wool to
    stop himself from bleeding – and I asked him to take Dad away for me, bring
    him into Newcastle.        Well, that just left us in the middle of the
    and I just took over the plant. It just come naturally. I had my own brother
    cooking and I had three blackfellas, another bloke, then when we got there
    you had one blackfella pissed off and left me, so we were just a bit short-
    handed then but we got along and Dad come back to us then a few weeks

I   And did you ever get much comment, you said there was a number of
    articles, but on the road, on the job, how was being a woman as a boss drover
    different than being a man and what kind of reaction to it did you get? You
    were a young woman, too, weren’t you?

R   I don’t think there was any reaction. There was just … I don’t think there
    was any different reaction. The men just kept on working as the way they
    go, they know what to do, you don’t have to tell them. You don’t have to tell
    a man once he gets on the road to go and catch his horse or go out to the
    cattle. If he’s laying down sleeping, you kick him and get him out but
    there’s just natural, you just go along and … I just had broken in, everything
    was … everybody knew what to do. I had two old blackfellas and they were
    two bloody old fellas. They stayed with me. I don’t know, I don’t think
    there was much difference really, but I suppose if … I didn’t find anything
    different anyway, I just went on. I knew where to get the cattle through so
    we just, it’s just a thing you’ve got to do.

I   Did you feel like you had to, in some way, act like a man or dress like a man
    to do a man’s job? Was there any of that sort of feeling?

R   Gender Relations/Boss Women

    00:35:27:10    No. We always dressed like a man anyway but it didn’t make
    any difference to the way I felt. Only you get worried about things, I
    suppose. That’s all, I only got a bit worried but I never, nothing …
I   What do you remember worrying about in the early days when you were
    boss droving?

R   Oh, well, you worry about bloody men walking, leaving you, and you’ve got
    1550 bullocks on the bloody road and walking, and you’ve got a plant of
    horses and you’ve got no men, it’s a bit hard but I don’t think I thought of
    that thing. I don’t think I thought of these sort of things. I think I just went
    on, doing my work from day to day. I never, I don’t think I thought of
    anything really. I just can’t remember that much. One blackfella, I was a bit
    wild about him walking away but apart from … the others, I used to have a
    few fights with my brother Andy but we were always fighting, me and him.

I   Was he your younger brother or your older brother?

R   No, he was a couple of years younger than me but, oh he was alright, poor
    bugger, but he used to just do things that used to make me wild sometimes.

I   Like what? What would you and Andy fight about?

R   Well, we might fight about, we had a couple of fights over not camping
    where I told him to camp and, you know, things like that. If I told him to
    camp over there, he’d camp over there, just do things that I didn’t …

I   So was that about you establishing your authority as ‘I’m the boss’?

R   Yeah, I think that probably might have been what the problem was.