Sir Sidney Kidman, perhaps the best known of all Australia's bushmen, who in his young days took long chances and won fame and fortune in the lonely cattle-lands of the treacherous Far North, died in Adelaide this week, aged 78. The writer, when a youth, knew "Sid" Kidman before his "rise".
When I rode with young Sid Kidman out across the Yarrowie Plain -- In that year the Long Drought ended, and the northlands smiled again -- As we took the old Tarcowie track and on to Booleroo, His keen eye scanned the country, and we yarned of men we knew: Mal Murray and Jim Spicer, of Jasser and Judell, Bill Mitchell and old stagers whom I still remember well; And he told of chance-missed fortunes when the game was in his grasp, Of life along The Barrier with German Charlie Rasp. Now, back in Kidman country where the grizzled bushmen are, In many a stark out-station, o'er many a shanty bar, The drovers' drawling voices talk about "Old Sid" today: "Bushmen like him ain't raised no more," the grizzled veterans say, For o'er the furthest saltbush lands his questing mind went out To glimpse high opportunity where others saw black drought. Shrewd-eyed, yet greatly daring, laughing he ventured forth To stake his luck, his judgment 'gainst swift treacheries "up north." "I mind the time I rode with him," a wizened stockman says. "He knowed that country like a map, an' all the tricks an' ways. "Aye, and he knowed the cattle game." The voices drone and drawl, Till, "The time I rode for Kidman," is the burden of them all. "Deserved his luck? Too right he did, seein' how he began; But times like them don't come again for us or any man. Them meddlin' airyplans an' sich brings old days to an end." And so they mourn, no magnate, but a bushman and a friend. So the best-known bushman passes in the fullness of his years; And, with his passing, so an olden order disappears -- Sid Kidman, Jimmy Tyson -- rugged princes of Outback, Who sought their fortunes far afield along the arid track; Strong men who, taking heart of grace, unflinchingly rode forth To play a rough, grim game, and win, against the stubborn North; To become a land's tradition, future figures of romance, Busmen who fought and loved their bush; the men who took a chance.
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004-07|