Reprint: Letter to the Editor: River Voyaging by Will Lawson

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Sir,-The recent successful republication of "The Sentimental Bloke" suggests that there are other Australian books which would be welcomed -- books out of print for long years.

In connection with the Sturt celebrations, such books as E. J. Brady's "River Rovers," a story of a voyage by boat, and C. E. W. Bean's "Dreadnought of the Darling" would be welcomed.

It seems to me that the arrangements for re-enacting this long boat voyage by Sturt should be handled by older men. The young men of to-day know nothing of these great rivers, yet there are still rivermen in old ports along the Murray whose knowledge and experience would make the boat trip something more than just a rowing effort.

There are many wrong ideas held about the river. For example, it was announced last week that a man would voyage in a canoe down the Tumut River into the Murrumbidgee and that this would be the first time such a thing had been done.

In 1936, when I made a round voyage in a river steamer, the Wanare, gathering material for my book, "Old Man Murray," we met off Rufous Reach a lad in a canoe who had come from Tumut. He was about 16 years old and had little food with him, yet insisted that he must finish his journey unaided.

On our return voyage from Mildura we overtook him in rainy weather. Again he was invited on board, but insisted he must complete his voyage from Tumut to Adelaide in his canoe.

"But the river don't go near Adelaide," the skipper said. "Come on, get aboard and nobody will know."

He came on board, very tired, had a meal, and slept well on bags laid against the boiler, where his clothes soon dried. Next day he went on his way and reached Goolwa safely. His was a marvellous voyage.

Referring again to river books, the first Australian writer to write of the Murray was Price Warung, years ago, in a series of short stories.

WILL LAWSON. Northbridge.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 December 1950

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 17, 2011 7:58 AM.

Australian Bookcovers #269 - Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings was the previous entry in this blog.

Great Australian Authors #44 - Will Lawson is the next entry in this blog.

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