Dearest Old Girl, Sunday March 13 1921
I am lying under a tree trying to keep cool. I received your dear old letter yesterday & feel a real culprit at not being able to write before but I know you will understand. Last Sunday Allan & I rode in before tea to post our letters thinking we would be able to get back before it was dark but misfortune overtook us , I got two punctures in my bike & had to mend them consequently we had to ride back in the dark. While we were in there Allan bought a new billy also a dozen eggs which we packed carefully in the billy after my slow riding and a few spills we managed to reach the hometown & we were priding ourselves on our ability as night riders when all of a sudden I crashed into a big pine tree & came right over the handles of the bike, luckily I did not hurt myself very much. Allan came back & took the billy of eggs from me & we started off again. He had not gone more than fifty yards when he shot clean over his bike. When we got home we pulled the lid off the billy & alas there were only two sound eggs, the other were all mixed up in the bottom of the billy so we had scrambled eggs for tea. Eggs are very scarce up here & we were looking forward to a luxurious tea. Proverb never count your chickens before they are hatched.
Friday evening I rode in to send the wires. I also wired Ben. I hope things are fixed up alright. So far things are going alright, the only thing is when you come home tired at night you have to turn round & cook meals but nevertheless the food is good & that alone compensates us for our bother. Allan washes up & does handy jobs. We are troubled very much with flies & ants & if you don’t cover up everything they simply swarm it, not the little ants you get down there but great big ones. We are both priding ourselves on being able to stick the heavy work even big chaps who have been used to hard graft all their lives find it very hard at first in fact dozens cannot stick it longer than a few days. So we are not on contract work dear; those on contract work have to provide all their own implements. The other day we struck a very big mallee. Which took us the rest of the best part of two days to get out, we broke three cables & in the end had to dig it out & chop the roots from underneath; In trying to mend the cable a chap hit me on the back of my hand with an axe. It is very stiff & sore & a lot of proud flesh is forming on the surface. Today I bathed it with water as hot as I could bear & put [xx] powder on & bound it up. So you see dear I am writing under difficulties. Any flesh wound does not heal too well. I will have to be careful or it will turn into septic poisoning.
Yesterday afternoon Allan and I went to the river fishing, we caught nothing but snags. We enjoyed ourselves nevertheless & had a real good swim. It was simply beautiful in the water. We got home about nine at night. This morning we did not get up till about 10am, had breakfast & I put on the dinner a roast of beef, baked potatoes & onions. I cooked it in a camp oven & it turned out beautiful. Allan thinks I am a bit of a wonder at cooking he doesn’t know how to cook a potato. If at any time you think of some nice little recipes within our reach don’t forget to send them along. I have not come across that fellow the Blairs are enquiring about but if I do I will let you know. This is all up to the present sweetheartmine. I hope you can understand the scrawl. Give my love to your mother & accept the love of the one who is always thinking & longing for you. Yours ever. Kind regards to your dad and family.
Image: Photo WE Phegan of Woy Woy, NSW in the 1920s.
Collection of the National Museum of Australia.
Katy Mutton is a Canberra based, Australian Visual Artist whose practice is informed by an ongoing concern around trauma and warfare and how these relate to our cultural identity and history. For more information on her artwork visit www.katymutton.com