Tumba-bloody-rumba

Memory is an amazing thing. With age, you can sometimes have to think hard about something you did yesterday, or where you left something like the TV remote control, but memories from thirty years ago can be quite vivid. 

As we walked around the Pioneer Women’s Hut at Tumbarumba, it took me all of ten seconds to remember the name of the woman, Wendy Hucker (no longer alive) who I interviewed many times, a leading figure in the creation of the museum.

Pioneer Women’s Hut at Tumbarumba
Pioneer Women’s Hut at Tumbarumba

The weather was lovely, and it was wonderful to walk around and go in and out of the various huts which came originally from the local prison farm. They had been transformed into an outdoor museum, about fifteen minutes drive from Tumbarumba. 

As you walk through the huts, you see arts and crafts, as well as newspaper clippings, and many other things which give you an insight into earlier pioneer life for women.

Tumbarumba is a more “vibrant” town now than what I remember of thirty years ago. Back then it always seemed like a fairly “sleepy” place. 

But in 2021, the street was fairly buzzy, and unlike many small country towns, there didn’t appear to be any/many empty shops.

The barber who cut my hair (I was desperately in need of one) told me he and his mother had moved from Sydney to Tumbarumba about twenty years ago. As with many country people, the opening questions were “where are you from?” followed by “do you know such and such”, and when I mentioned Lismore, he asked if I knew someone he knew from many years ago. It didn’t seem like an overly busy day for him, and so we chatted for quite some time, and he offered me a few local tourist tips, including advice about how good the meat was at the local butcher.

I’d already sampled some of the delights of the main local bakery.

Apple turnover from the Tumbarumba Bakery

During my time in Lismore, I delighted my colleagues with photographs from some of the bakeries there, so I snapped a couple of photographs and sent them through in lieu of my weekly “dot points” update. 

And from there, we headed out to the Paddy’s River Falls.
Later in the afternoon I caught up with an old mate from my radio days in Wagga, who now runs the community radio station in Tumut.

Tumba Bloody Rumba by John O’Brien (no relation)

I was down the Riverina, knockin’ ’round the towns a bit,
And occasionally resting with a schooner in me mitt,
And on one of these occasions, when the bar was pretty full
And the local blokes were arguin’ assorted kind of bull,
I heard a conversation, most peculiar in its way.
It’s only in Australia you would hear a joker say:

“Howya bloody been, ya drongo, haven’t seen ya fer a week,
And yer mate was lookin’ for ya when ya come in from the creek.
‘E was lookin’ up at Ryan’s, and around at bloody Joe’s,
And even at the Royal, where ‘e bloody NEVER goes”.

And the other bloke says “Seen ‘im? Owed ‘im half a bloody quid.
Forgot to give it back to him, but now I bloody did –
Could’ve used the thing me bloody self. Been off the bloody booze,
Up at Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin’ kanga-bloody-roos.”

Now the bar was pretty quiet, and everybody heard
The peculiar integration of this adjectival word,
But no-one there was laughing, and me – I wasn’t game,
So I just sits back and lets them think I spoke the bloody same.

Then someone else was interested to know just what he got,
How many kanga-bloody-roos he went and bloody shot,
And the shooting bloke says “Things are crook –
the drought’s too bloody tough.
I got forty-two by seven, and that’s good e-bloody-nough.”

And, as this polite rejoinder seemed to satisfy the mob,
Everyone stopped listening and got on with the job,
Which was drinkin’ beer, and arguin’, and talkin’ of the heat,
Of boggin’ in the bitumen in the middle of the street,
But as for me, I’m here to say the interesting piece of news
Was Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin’ kanga bloody-roos.

I was down the Riverina, knockin’ ’round the towns a bit,
And occasionally resting with a schooner in me mitt,
And on one of these occasions, when the bar was pretty full
And the local blokes were arguin’ assorted kind of bull,
I heard a conversation, most peculiar in its way.
It’s only in Australia you would hear a joker say:

“Howya bloody been, ya drongo, haven’t seen ya fer a week,
And yer mate was lookin’ for ya when ya come in from the creek.
‘E was lookin’ up at Ryan’s, and around at bloody Joe’s,
And even at the Royal, where ‘e bloody NEVER goes”.

And the other bloke says “Seen ‘im? Owed ‘im half a bloody quid.
Forgot to give it back to him, but now I bloody did –
Could’ve used the thing me bloody self. Been off the bloody booze,
Up at Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin’ kanga-bloody-roos.”

Now the bar was pretty quiet, and everybody heard
The peculiar integration of this adjectival word,
But no-one there was laughing, and me – I wasn’t game,
So I just sits back and lets them think I spoke the bloody same.

Then someone else was interested to know just what he got,
How many kanga-bloody-roos he went and bloody shot,
And the shooting bloke says “Things are crook –
the drought’s too bloody tough.
I got forty-two by seven, and that’s good e-bloody-nough.”

And, as this polite rejoinder seemed to satisfy the mob,
Everyone stopped listening and got on with the job,
Which was drinkin’ beer, and arguin’, and talkin’ of the heat,
Of boggin’ in the bitumen in the middle of the street,
But as for me, I’m here to say the interesting piece of news
Was Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin’ kanga bloody-roos.

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