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Days of mustering cattle

Paddy Huddlestone Benbo

Bulikgi. Ngonong nga-nanda-ny. Dutj ba-yaha-ny. Longh-nga nga-ga-ndi nendo-garang. Lurrkguny, di-nya nganung danurrut-da nendo-garang. Duh-ma nga-ra-ndi nothing, labali isn't it, nganing-gin nendo, dilk ma-ji-ng labali, bak-bak nga-rinyi-ng-wa. Cattle, like that I saw them, and they took off. I chased after them on my horse. I was galloping through a pocket in the hills when one came across at my horse. I kicked my horse, but nothing, it tripped over. I fell down badly hurt.
Nga-rinyi-ra. Mmm. Bort-da-wu nga-rinyi-ra, ngan-la-ndi nendo-yi. Dul-ma nga-ni-nginy wahan jawh-jawh-ma, ngan-ba-nawu-ndi wahan, berrh mama lagiyi-leying. Gorro gujirritj ngan-ma-ny-wa. Jemen-na-wa nga-ni-nginy gorn-gorn-na ba-ni-nginy-wa. Nibulin-wa, nibulin, warl nga-bu-ng nganing-gin nibulin ngonong-a mahan ba-di-nginy warrp-ba-gu, luwi-yan-wu nganung. Ba-di-nya nganung warnanggal. Bort-da-wu nga-rinyi-ra. I fell down unconscious, the horse threw me. I was lying down, and they poured water on me. They gave me water, threw it on my body. And then I felt cold. I could hear them talking. I opened my eyes like so and they were mobbing around me, all crying for me. The doctors were coming to me. I had fallen down unconscious.
But ngan-ba-ga-ndi lah-leying dul-ma nga-ni-nginy. Ba-yama-ny nganung, nendo-garang, barh-ma nga-ya-jan, bulikgi. Gay-gunda gordal wirriny-nya nga-ya-nggi. Dul-ma-yan nga-ni-nginy-waa. Manager-yi, ngan-ga-ndi jorro-ma corral-ubawo dul-ma-yan ali, nyongh-nga. But they took me back to camp and laid me down there. They told me that I was a stockman who rode horses and chased cattle. My head was going round in circles. I was lying down. The manager, he took me back to the corral to lie down, all right, I was sick.
Maman ngaha-ny. Nga-ya-nggi jorro-ma again, stock-camp-gu. Nendo warh-ma-yan nga-ma-yi. Maman-wa, longh-nga-yan nga-ga-ndi bulikgi. Woerrkge-ma nga-ya-nggi maman. I got well. I went back to the stock camp again. I rode a horse again. I was good at mustering cattle. I worked all right.
Watj ngi-ma-ny, woerrkge-ma-gunda, ngi-ya-nggi-buga watj, watj-ja-gunda woerrkge-ma. Danganyin nginggu-nawu-ndi garradin, flour tea sugar, bakga. Lek-ga-wa ngi-ya-ngga-jan boran-leying, guk-ga-y-ale. Ngi-ya-ngga-jan-buga holiday-wa. Ah lurr yaha-jan, ngi-ya-ngga-jan jorro-ma-wa. We finished work. After we finished working, the boss gave us food and money. He gave us flour, tea, sugar and tobacco. We used to go down to the river and camp out. We used to go on holiday. Then it would thunder, and we'd come back.
Lamang bulikgi, dowh nge-re-jan ngerreju killer. Ngi-ga-jan-buga-wa. Ngomekgal mara, jahan-wa. Belk-ga-yan-ga bora-ga-got. Ngi-ya-ngga-jan dul-ma-yan, dorong-dorong mama nge-de-jan danganyin. Ngi-yebe-jan-wu ngirrk-ga dul-ma-yan yerrin-leying. Cattle now, we used to shoot ourselves a killer. We used to take it, the ribs and the large intestine and all that, down to the river to roast. And then we'd lie down, full up with tucker. We'd have a spell, lying down in the shade.
Gawu-yarra bornh-na-yan ngi-ya-ngga-jan. Jorro guda wuhwuh ngi-dipba-jan. Burrng-nga-yan, burrng-burrng-nga nga-na-jan, borndedi. Tea-leaf nge-ge-jan jamh-ma, jamh-ma nge-de-jan now. There now we used to go for a swim. We'd come back and make a hot fire. I'd boil some water in the billycan. We'd put in the tea leaves. And drink it now.
Jenh-nyamu ngi-bu-jan walanyja, gangaman, ngalwarnka. Mmm, ummm, nge-berda-jan-wa majalin-buga, belk-ga-yan mama. Guk-ga ngi-yebe-jan-ngana. We used to spear goannas, kangaroos, short-necked turtles. We used to cook lots of fish, when we were camping out.
Early-bela lamang-garang jorro-jorro ngi-ya-ngga-jan- ngana house-leying. Manager yaha-jan ngerreju woerrkge-ma-gu. Woerrkge-ma menuny barri. Neyenggun-a woerrkge-ma, yard-gama, neyenggun-a. Bulikgi muster-im-bout Guward-leying. Ba-ga-jan wahan-leying, warrp mama bunggu-ga-jan, bulikgi nu-naw-ma. Wahan mama wah-leying birriman-leying, ba-yebe-jan. Early in the morning we used to come back to the house, bringing back the meat that we'd got. The manager used to tell us to work. Work maybe somewhere else. At another yard. They used to muster cattle around the Daly River. They used to take them to the water, muster big mobs of cattle. And they would stay there at the big water.
Oh, gay-gunda ngi-ya-ngga-jan jorro-ma. Lah-leying guk early-bela gokgo. Mmm, hobble-nyamu bit, ngerrp-ba-yan, gumit bulikgi-git, hobble strap, packsaddle, saddle-nyamu, mend-im-bout ngi-yebe-jan, station-leying. Oh lurr watj. We'd go back from there. At the camp, sleep, until early in the morning. We used to mend the hobbles, bits and saddles, with cow skin, at the station. When the rains came, we finished that.
Bolwo-gun-wu. Nendo muster-im ngi-yama-jan-wu. Ngi-ya-ngga-jan-wu muster-im-bout. Shoe-im-bout-nyamu nendo martdal. By and by, dikgurr-ma ba-ya-ngga-jan, nendo martdal. Steel bottom, mama nge-ge-jan borroju martdal-leying wilh-ma-yan martdal garradin-leying, lurrut-da-yan-nyamu. Borrodop mama ngi-ya-ngga-jan garradin-leying longh-nga-yan bulikgi-wu. Martdal, wuji derdawk-ga ba-yebe-jan wilh-ma ba-ya-ngga-jan-ma. Shoe-garang ilkgawu. Dorroh ya-ngga-jan, neyenggun-wa. Nge-ge-jan-wu, nap-ba martdal-leying. Steel, steel-garang, nail-nyamu nge-ge-jan-wu. Windy time. We used to muster up the horses. We had to put horseshoes on the horses' feet. By and by they used to go lame. So we would put steel bottoms on their feet, and then they could walk strong over stony ground. Then we could gallop over stony ground mustering cattle. Their feet didn't hurt any more, and they could walk okay. With shoes it was okay. In time, a shoe might come off, so we'd put on another one. We attached them to their feet with nails.
Ah, ngi-ya-ngga-jan guk-ga-yan-nyamu, pack-im-up nendo. Danurrut mama nge-ge-jan swag, balance-im on back bag-wu. Balance-im nujew- nujew- nujew- gahan-nehen. Balance-im maman, tie-im-up. Gu-nawutj-jan. Balance-im ngi-yama-jan maman. Nge-ge-jan-wu nendo-leying, ga-jan-wu wunh-na. Ngi-ya-ngga-jan guk-ga-ya-, ah, dorroh-ma lah-leying, packsaddle irrganluk. Packhorse let-da ngi-nanda-jan-nyamu, lek-ga-yan wahan-leying. Bornh mama gi-bu-n. Gi-ga-n nendo-yi-wu danganyin. Bornh mama gi-ya. Gahan backpacka-wa danganyin-ba. And yorrony-nya ngi-ba-bu-jan. Wilh-ma wahan-nehen outside-binyju ngi-ya-ngga-jan. Lah-ubawo-leying. Block-im ngi-yebe-jan, block-im. Hobble-im-about ngi-yebe-jan-ngana. Ah, we used to go out camping, we'd pack up the horses. We'd put the swags across the horses' backs, balance them on their backs. Balance them well, and tie them up. Tight. We used to balance them properly. We'd put them on the horses so that they could carry them. We used to go camping. Ah, take it out at camp. We used to watch the packhorses as they went down into the water. We took them through the water. We took the tucker through the water on the horses. We went through the water. The tucker was in the backpacks. And we used to drive the horses through. They would walk without the food getting wet, water only outside the packs. We'd get to the camp place. Then we used to block them, and hobble them.
Gawor-ubawo, ngonong-nga-yan. Nyenh-na ngi-yebe-jan. Hobble-garang, nyelel mama ba-ya-ngga-jan-wu. Wolon-leying nu-naw-ma jamh-ma-yan ba-ya-ngga-jan nendo, ngi-yebe-jan guk-ga. Afternoon time, like now. We used to stay quiet. The horses rattled about with their hobbles. They fed on the grass in a big mob, and then we'd go to sleep.
Larrang-nga bu-jan. Milijun werrh jumbany nendo yurrup-ba-yan nebe-jan, guda-leying manager-leying. Ba-nanda-jan gahan manager-yi. Ah, by and by lagiban yuronggu. Danganyin jamh-jamh. Larrang-nga bu-jan, boyh ngi-ya-ngga-jan ngatjbarra-gu muster-im-about bulikgi. It used to get light. The morning star would come out behind were the horses were standing, by the managers' fire. The managers used to watch them. By and by the Aboriginal men would get up. We'd eat our breakfast. At daybreak, we used set out for mustering cattle again, a long way away.

Kybrook Farm, 11 January 1997.
 

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Copyright 1999-2001 AIATSIS, Stephen Wilson. Comments and enquiries to Stephen Wilson <stephenw@ucla.edu>.