McCubbin - The
Ode to the Pioneer Women
O braiding thought move
out, move on!
Twine, Memory, your golden thread!
Marble, be monument to them!
Our homage here their diadem,
Lest, as with nations long since gone,
We lose the names should be our bread.
Call them, Australia!
Call them once again!
For they are those who on these silent shores
Salute to the Pioneers
They came of bold and
roving stock that would not fixed abide;
They were the sons of field and flock since e'er they learnt to ride,
We may not hope to see such men in these degenerate years
As those Early Australian Explorers of the bush—the brave old pioneers.
'Twas they who rode the
trackless bush in heat and storm and drought; '
Twas they who heard the master-word that called them farther out;
'Twas they who followed up the trail the mountain cattle made,
And pressed across the mighty range where now their bones are laid.
But now the times are
dull and slow, the brave old days are dead
When hardy bushmen started out, and forced their way ahead
By tangled scrub and forests grim towards the unknown west,
And spied at last the promised land from off the range's crest.
O ye that sleep in lonely
graves by distant ridge and plain,
We drink to you in silence now as Christmas comes again,
To you who fought the wilderness through rough unsettled years
The founders of our nation's life, the brave old pioneers.
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Christmas Day - Salute to the Pioneers
God bless the master of this house,
And bless the mistress true:
And all the little children around the table, too.
Your pockets full of money and your cellars full of beer,
And we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Australia's history might have been very different if a gale had sprung
up on Christmas Day, 1768. On that day the Endeavour was sailing down
toward Tierra del Fuego and Mr Banks entered in his diary: 'Christmas
Day all good Christians, that is to say all good hands, got abominably
drunk so that all through the night there was scarce a sober man in the
ship. Weather, thank God, very moderate, or Lord knows what would have
become of us.'
Christmas of 1788 found the First Fleet lumbering eastward across the
Southern Ocean towards Van Diemen's Land. David Collins, the historian
of the earliest days say "We complied, as far was in our power, with
the good old English custom and partook of a better dinner this day than
usual; but the weather was too rough to permit of much social enjoyment.
In December, 1791, supplies were so low that the rations had to be cut.
The best Govenor Phillip could do was to allow a pound of flour to each
woman in the settlement. But, if the men had to tighten their belts that
Christmas Day, they made certain cheer of another sort. The stores at
Paramatta were broken into, and some twenty-two gallons of liquor spirited
The Christmas of 1803 saw an odd little community of marines, convicts,
and free settlers - Victoria's first white settlement - sitting down to
Christmas dinner in the bushland of Sullivan's Bay
1844 - 45
December 25 "We returned to Brown's Lagoons and entered our camp
just as our companions were sitting down to their Christmas diner of suet
pudding and stewed cockotoos. The day was cloudy and sultry; we had had
a heavy thunderstorm on Christmas Eve."
Dr Ludwig Leichhardt - Overland Expedition in Australia
The year 1851 saw Victoria's 'gold Christmas.' New discoveries had caused
a sensation in the colony and elsewhere, even over-seas. Men gave friends
nuggets of gold instead of Christmas cards in token of good will. One
digger gave his horse a Christmas present of gold shoes. Another had a
Christmas dinner of five-pound-note sandwiches.
Few of the miners would be likely to forget the Christmas of 1857 - their
first at Ararat. Bushfires were all around them. The Pyrenees and the
ranges between Ararat and Pleasant Creek were in flames. Armstrongs was
The ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition found an oasis to enjoy a Christmas
rest. Robert O'Hara Burke's records in his journal. "We took a day
of rest on Gray's Creek to celebrate Christmas. This was doubly pleasant
as we had never in our most sanguine moments anticipated finding such
a pleasant oasis in the desert. Our camp was really an agreeable place,
for we had all the advantages of food and water attending a position on
a large creek or river, and were at the same time free of the annoyance
of the numberless ants, flies, and mosquitoes that are invariably met
with amongst timber or heavy scrub."
Christmas Day was frightfully hot, and there was thunder about which made
it oppressive; otherwise we do not care much for mere heat now, but a
cool breeze sprang up in the evening as usual, and we sat on the verandah
and were rather merry... I thought very much of you on Christmas Day,
and of my last Christmas at home. Do you remember how bright and cold
it was? And how we went out on Christmas Eve and bought a great branch
of holly and dressed the drawing room? Here we hung up over the pictures
some Australian mistletoe, a pretty parasite, with bright- yellow drooping
branches - like willow in the autumn - which grows in the gum-trees here.
from The Letters of Rachel Henning.
What a different
Christmas yours is from ours. I fancy snow on the ground and a hard frost,
yet withal a bright sun as there ought to be on Christmas Day. The children
wrapped up very warm going to church with you and having their attention
sorely distracted by the holly-berries and the evergreens with which it
is dressed, and saying Christmas hymns and being regaled with figs by
the fire when it is getting dusk.
this side of the world it is rather a hot day, though there is not too
much sun. Thunderstorms are rolling about the hills and very beautiful
the mountains look appearing and disappearing among the misty clouds...The
gum-trees are in flower, and the passion vine over the verandah is in
fruit and the seeds are trying to come up in the garden but are nipped
off by the fowls as soon as they show above the ground...
from The Letters of Rachel Henning.
Peter Egerton Warburton who went on the expedition from Adelaide to the
north of Western Australia in 1872-3 did not enjoy Christmas Day. In his
journal he writes. "We cannot but draw a mental picture of our friends
in Adelaide sitting down to their Christmas dinner, whilst we lie sweltering
on the ground starving, and should be thankful to have the pickings out
of the pig's trough. This is no exaggeration but the literal truth. We
cut out three bee-holes today, but found no honey in any of them. No sign
of Lewis. If he is not here by the close of Sunday next, I shall be obliged
to suppose he has gone to Roebourne, in which case there can be no hope
o fhis return for the next three weeks, and except God grant us His help,
we cannot live so long on our present supply... We fancied we should find
many opossums in the gum trees, but have not yet seen one. We have fish
close to us, but though we deprive ourselves of the entrails of a bird
as bait, they will not take it."
Christmas Day 2003 - Greetings from around
of Many Christmases by H. Lawson
Christmas C.J. Dennis
card to the South Australian "Advertiser" chapel
of the Printing & Kindred Industries Union from Horace Yelland, 1911.