Caravanning with Wep – Jindabyne 1938; Man From Snowy A Rum Chap

Man From Snowy A Rum Chap

By L. W. LOWER

JINDABYNE, Thursday.

It was a proud moment for the Daily Telegraph Polar expedition when it bought all the eggs in Jindabyne.

The whole six of them.

The hens had staged a stand-up strike. The butcher here is a butcheress, and wields a classy cleaver.

A traffic cop in this town would have to bring his knitting with him if he wanted to keep awake.

There is a small, round, silent cop in the main street, but nobody seems to know why.

I have met the man from Snowy River.

He wears two pairs of trousers, drinks rum, and doesn’t like food with his meals.

He was a great disappointment to me.

He Went Red

Poor Wep, my caravan comrade, has decided to paint something.

None of the scenery around here seems to suit him.

I tried all kinds of scenery on him, but I’m afraid that the Main Roads Board will have to make a few alterations in the general contour of the country before Wep is satisfied.

Another thing is that he just made out his expense account and I had to post it for him.

He must have a conscience, because every time he approached the post office he went red in the face and became boyishly embarrassed, the burglar.

Having no craven inhibitions, I posted it for him.

When I get the courage I will send in my own expense account.

Whip Music

The wee snowflakes have started flickering down.

I’ll tell you something.

Have you ever heard a bullock driver singing “Drifting and Dreaming”?

And accompanying himself with a 20-foot whip?

I have, and you needn’t lie awake worrying about it.

You haven’t missed anything.

Well, we must be getting along.

Caravanning with Wep – Jindabyne 1938; A Far Cry From Home, Minus Handkerchief

A Far Cry From Home, Minus Handkerchief

By L. W. LOWER

JINDABYNE, Wednesday.

Damn all Test matches. I strolled down to the Jindabyne pub last night to listen to the test match.

All was bright and gay within. Without, bleakness had set in in large frozen chunks.

The time came when I had to return to the caravan.

Bright, brittle moonlight was pasted all over the road, and the road went for miles and miles in the wrong direction.

After some hours of steady trudging I had an idea that I should be somewhere about the Gulf of Carpentaria.

I yelled “Coo-ee” in a forlorn, hope-less way, and the echo from the hills nearby made me burst into tears.

I had no matches, no money, no tobacco, and no handkerchief.

I said to myself, “Lower, this is no time for panic. Keep a grip on yourself. Don’t get hysterical.

So I kept on walking, and hours and hours later I found myself outside the same pub.

Trekked Again!

I have in there, and rapped feebly on the door.

They let me in and gave me a bed with two hundred blankets on it.

In the morning I went and had a look at the bathroom, smiled politely at it, and came away again.

I then sought out Straw Weston, the publican.

“I have no money to pay for my room,” I said, getting ready to run like mad.

“That’s all right.” He replied. “you can fix it up later.”

I then proceeded to get lost all over again. Early in the afternoon I found the caravan.

The inmates sneered at me, but I was too weak to object. Next time I go out, I’m going to be hung all over with hurricane lamps and fog horns.

Wep On The Rocks

WEP_Artworks_1651_copy
"Storm over Crackenback"

This is no place for a man who has been delicately brought up in Darlinghurst.

Wep, my artist friend, is away in the hills painting rocks.

Some people have quaint hobbies.

All I’ve got to do now is to find the post office all over again.

If ever I get back to Sydney, the first person who says to me, “Did you enjoy the trip?” gets a smack in the teeth.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Caravanning with Wep – 1938 Jindabyne; Grimm Tale of Man IN Snowy River

Grimm Tale of Man IN Snowy River

By L. W. LOWER

JINDABYNE, Monday.

I, myself, personally, alone, and unaided, have crossed the Snowy River on foot in my downy underpants.

This, so far as I know, has never been done before.

As for me, it will not be done again within living memory.

Asked by an interested bystander why I did this, I told him in my simple, forthright way that I wanted to see what was on the other side.

This seemed pretty weird to him.

Halfway across I became bunkered in the rapids, but the indomitable Lower spirit triumphed, and nature took a dirty slap to the face.

Innumerable turkeys roam around our caravan.

I missed eight with various-sized rocks, and had just drawn a fine sight on the ninth, with every chance of bringing him down, when a man in dirty khaki trousers came and said: “Waddger thinkyer trianterdo?”

It seems that they were his turkeys.

“I was just teaching your turkeys how to duck,” I replied.

I thought that was rather bright, considering. He didn’t.

Un-palette-able!

My artist companion, Wep, is becoming more tiring every hour.

Today he was squinting at a little church built on the top of a bare rock-strewn hill.

He walked me up and down for miles saying, “It looks better from here, don’t you think. Do you think I’d get the light better from over there?”

I said that it would probably look swell from the verandah of Straw Weston’s pub.

He became temperamental about it, and said I had no eye for beauty, no sense of balance and proportion, and no soul.

I got into my huff and walked off.

I beat him to the hotel by only four minutes.

War Letters – NW Australia: 2 Aug 1943, Darwin; Barber’s shop in a forward area.

W.E.Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
Army Post Office
Darwin
Monday Aug. 1 or something
[2 Aug 1943]

 

Darling,

Sorry I growled about there being no letters from you.  Very little mail arrived for anyone last week.  Must have been some hitch.  Happily I received two this morning and was thereby much delighted.

What - No Letters Blokes

You seem pretty lonely poor darling – it is obviously sickening to have to either stay home alone or still see the same faces & the same chatter.  It’s lonely here as a rule when I’m not working.  That is why I like to get out each week to some camp down the road and settle in to steady effort.  There is  a great deal round about here I want to get on to, moreover the general atmosphere of this mess is slow.  At the moment all the correspondents are spine bashing.  Apparently there is bugger all for them to find in the way of news with the exception of raids.  Now that would be exciting if I didn’t catch a bomb.  And the food up here is bloody awful.  Margarine, dried eggs, macaroni pudding, stewed tea & leathered meat.  That wouldn’t be so bad if the cook thought of something besides going on leave.  Believe you me, I’ve been criminally spoilt.

On the beach again yesterday.  Water really wonderful – the sunshine and Freds bountiful.  I’m losing the lolly pink – changing chameleon like into tiger stripes owing to a little semi spine bashing of my own the other day.  Curled up in a deck chair & came to with pink bands across my belly skin where the creases between folds of fat had been retained it lily white line.  Got sunburnt on the flat yesterday – result – pink & brown now instead of original barber’s pole style.  Nerves not much better – worry a bit about the job as I don’t know how I can remember all the different colour & tones of the scenes I have ideas of portraying.  Most of the stuff I want to get down is of the rapid impression type –Much too quick even to get the drawing let alone tone, etc. The only painting I do is to note down appropriate backgrounds & incidentals to the job.  Have written these blue lines while waiting for a haircut in a military camp.

Barber's Shop In A Forward Area
Barber’s Shop In A Forward Area

He’s a hell of a little barber about as short & thick as a fart.  An ex-ladies’ hairdresser from Farmers, or, some say Borrowmans – anyway he cuts a pretty hair.  The charge is 1/- of which he gets 6d & his unit comforts fund 6d.  You sit on a sawn off log in a parlour of the most delicate hessian.  Whilst outside in the ante-room grim faced & spare witted troops purse lips and pen handle heads in the agonising concentration of writing the dear ones at home.  I draw.  Somebody asks how to spell Americans.  I oblige.

 Have returned to Happy Messy.  This mail is due to go off in 10 minutes.  So lots of love dear & keep on writing even if it kills you.  Won’t be very long before I see you again.  Thanks for the lipstick – tasted good.  Love

Bill.

AWW 1944 Jul-29 BARBER'S SHOP IN A FORWARD AREA
The Australian Women’s Weekly, 29 July 1944
Barber Shop
Barber Shop
Barber Shop
Barber Shop
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut

Caravanning with Wep – Sunday, 23rd July 1937, Skyring Creek, Qld., description of painting surrounding area and of local friendliness

23rd July Friday

Still at Skyring, but all ready for marching orders. Have been detained here a week now waiting on news from home. From civilization – which strange to say appears to be getting along quite well without us. Wrote down to Sydney on Monday, begging for information as to amount earned for past year and for official billet douxs on which to mail said remembrance. Expect to hear from city tomorrow or is the wish fother to the thought?

Have, in a way, been quite busy this week, wasting paint. 4 oil sketches on the worst canvasses I had. Choice examples of my manufacturing craft – genuine antique within a fortnight, complete with glue worms, dirt and dents. However think I have the substance for some future painting embodied in said sketches. One turned out quite well, one – bloody awful, & two, fair reference. Have re-experienced my Kurrajong troubles (the scale of greens & blues) but have managed a trifle better. The extraordinary luminosity of the rolling green slopes along the Skyring Creek! A darkish yellow green almost discordant in itself, clashing stridently with the intense yet lighter blue of the sky. The subtleties of golds & pinks that weave their patterns in the shafts of grass! Gorgeous, Gilded! Dark, sombre, & well packed, trees line the waterway, their edges crotched with shimmering light.

Damned if I can paint the totality of impression I receive by setting up my easel before the particular and transcribing it. Nature forces extraneous considerations upon my outlook and I cannot synthesise. Only possibility is to make a mental analysis & vague remembrance in paint from which to synthesise the whole. Away from the sheer immediacy of the scene I may be able to comprehensively combine the sum of impressions within one vision, a paraphrase of nature. Force my design upon the canvas rather than have nature force her riotous fecundity (indifference) upon me.

The light changes – a full moon rises beyond the opalescent ridge & clear cold rays percolate through gaunt yellow grayed limbs of the dead trees marshalled stiffly in great bayonet masses behind the dank rich foliage that lines the creek, a hundred yards across the field. The pale magic lantern of the moon hangs lemony on the bars of pink & blue which stripe the sky.

Visited Pomona about 8 miles off the main road, twice this week and were amazed at the friendliness and cordiality of the people. A pleasant cheerful crowd, spawned of warm and sunny hills.

Have been getting milk free from the folk up the road. The typical bush hospitality we have read about. And lettuce too!  Guess I’ve just about earned it all though listening to Miss Mackay & her experiences & views on an art or Edwardian, slag at dawn, vintage. Still, they went out of their way to be decent. Would choose to set my easel up on a main road & so incur the combined amazement & mirth of myriad school children, who daily arrived in two parties. First the bloody plutocrats on bikes and horses, would stare stolidly while their bloody ponies breathed down my neck, second, the proletariat arrive on foot, mostly girls, and twitter like a bunch of sparrows while I lose all concentration & think only of how hot my ears are getting. Finally they all disappear, twinkling colour dots vanishing far up along the pink and dusty road. That painting never did get a chance.

Caravanning with Wep – Friday, 11th June 1937, near Jindabyne

11th June

Time passing most uneventfully i.e.superficially. Ah, but I forget. Tuesday acted the good (or not so good) housewife to my poor missus as she lay stricken upon her sick bed waiting for a blessed minor event. Did all the housework with almost feminine skill and busied myself greatly with this and that.

Wednesday the blessed event came off. Jess rose and is looking up.

Porridge now is the order of the day. Rolled oats, sticky like clay, appearance seems to guarantee constipation of the direst severity. I don’t know whether to really lay the blame there or elsewhere, but something’s happened and I was doing so well too! Damn near had filled the Snowy Valley. Went up to Kos. At 12:00 on the strength of dirty weather during Mon & Tues and was b—- well duped. Nearest slushy water snow at Daner’s. Drove car up and mucked about half heartedly. Anyway Dawnie enjoyed it. Returned to Hotel and took it out in front of fire. Afternoon tea in the lap of luxury. Local gossip supplied by Charlie Krist.  Returning were amazed by the extraordinarily vivid cloud colourings during sunset. Such slashing oranges! The Alps afford us an unique collection of skies, both in quality and quantity. Such linear patterns as one’s imagination would scarcely credit. Bold sweeping curves circling the whole of the heavens. Staight lined shafts slicing off great areas of massed colour. Sinuous rhythms, green vaulting heavens, driving lead mists only feet above, vapours from out the valley, snow capped peaks lost in straggling lines. Forms vortexing towards the earth, their heavy lines tracing the wind currents set in motion by the enormous masses of the hills, an eerie suggestion of upside down solid reality. And all ever changing rapidly, assuming new forms in the very moment the eye peers from shape to shape.

Friday occupied in practically finishing painting of leafless forest. The tortured rhythm of tree form having driven me unconsciously into semblance of Van Gogh technique: can’t see how else I could have done it. I don’t suppose it matters much.

Had yarn to Johnny Weston about the poverty of the soil up here, and was informed his old lady had snavelled the sketch I did of him kicking the calf & is having it framed. Quite a decent scout, not like his grouchy brother pub keeper “Straw”.

Big hop on tonight at the Hall. All the girls getting round today in Kirby grips & setting pins. Whoops!