Bill Harney's yarns

McGregor, Russell (1999) Bill Harney's yarns. Journal of Northern Territory History, 10. pp. 25-29.

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[Extract] Bill Harney led an erratic life. He was a drover, stockman. foot-soldier on the Western Front in World War I. jail-bird (in the Borroloola lock-up. briefly in Fannie Bay. for alleged cattle-theft). combo (a word he used in self-description), lugger-master and trepanger. doleite (his word again) during the Great Depression. itinerant bush-worker. patrol officer in the Northern Territory Native Affairs Branch. curator of tile Ayers Rock Reservation. and a member of various United Nations expeditions into Arnhem Land. He was also a writer - a very popular writer back in the 1940s. 50s and 60s - although Hamey himself repudiated the appellation. advising his 'patient reader' to 'remember that I am only a bushman. who does not claim to be a writer, but only a teller of tales' .2 His tales sprawl across the Northern Territory, recounting his life there as a stockman. trepanger combo doleite and so forth. the people he knew there (and some he didn't know), the hard Ships and joys of bush life and the land that captivated him.3 He rambles. in words as - by his own account - he rambled in life. His books have little narrative cohesion: they are bundles of yarns loosely strung together. The narrative continuity of each yam is frequently disrupted by digressions. recollections and free-associations. It is impossible to pin down these sprawling, rambling yarns to any single. stable set of meanings. But in this brief exploratory foray I'll pare down the exuberant contrariness of Harney' s yarns, and wrench out of them a single issue - assimilation.

Item ID: 11563
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1034-7488
Keywords: Australian Aborigines, assimilation, Harney, Bill, Elkin
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Slightly amended version of a paper originally presented to the Australian Historical Association Biennial Conference (1998: University of Sydney)

Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2010 01:01
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History @ 70%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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