Wednesday, April 23, 2014

and so traveled and traveled and traveled

There is no place like the Australian Outback; it is surprising in every way.

Owing to the low and erratic rainfall over most of the outback, combined with soils which are usually not very fertile, inland Australia is relatively sparsely settled. 

The outback and the history of its exploration and settlement provides Australians with a culturally valued backdrop, and stories of swagmen (swaggie, sundowner or tussocker are an old Australian term describing an underclass of transient temporary workers), squatters, and bushrangers are central to the national ethos. The song "Waltzing Matilda", which is about a swagman and squatters, is probably Australia's best internationally known and best-loved song.

The Outback - or more specifically, a sheep station Gillanbone, near Drogheda - is also the backdrop of The Thorn Birds, a 1977 best selling novel by Colleen McCullough, an Australian author.