Mr Stuart’s Track


I have just finished reading John Bailey’s recent biography of the explorer John McDouall Stuart, Mr Stuart’s Track. It is a fascinating read about the man some, including Bailey himself, consider Australia’s greatest explorer. Throughout the book, Bailey skilfully recreates various hypothetical situations, based on recorded fact but laced with intuitive reasoning, to flesh out Stuart and some of his contemporaries. It makes very interesting reading and provides much food for thought.?

You can read more in an article I wrote about it.


Tathra 2006


I have recently returned from a week down at Tathra on the far south coast of New South Wales.

Our elder daughter Susannah lives in Melbourne and we decided to find a place roughly half way, for us all to meet and have a holiday together. So Kellyanne, our younger daughter, Susannah and the girls’ respective men, Tim and Rohan, the special little lady – our granddaughter Miss Eloise Durrant, Valda and yours truly spent the week building sand castles and exploring the surrounding area. We had a wonderful time.

On the Saturday morning of our departure from Tathra, we all met for coffee at a beach play area with a ‘pirate ship’ for Eloise to command. (She’s become very proficient at giving orders.) So we proceeded merrily to play our version of Captain Feathersword (a Wiggles reference). I happened to wise-crack when she tripped on a piece of wood near the ‘ship’– “Oh, you look like you’ve lost your sea legs.” – to which Eloise began searching all around her, with a concerned expression across her little brow. We soon realised that she had taken me seriously and was literally “looking for her lost sea legs”.

I’m glad I didn’t say something like, “Well, blow me down,” for she might well have tried to do just that and I might be limping now like old John Silver! (“Ah, Jim, me lad!”)

Anyway, on thinking about this incident with Eloise and the lost sea legs, when I returned home I wrote this little bit of nonsense for her to read when she is older.

for Eloise

I do believe that the King of the Sea,
Neptune himself, has put a curse on me
For I cannot stand, as I used to do
Steady on the deck in the ocean blue.
I wobble like jelly, almost fall to the ground
This pirate’s sea legs just can’t be found.

Yes, I’ve lost my sea legs
Curse the skull and bones
They’re probably at the bottom with Davy Jones
Oh, help, me hearties, to find them again
A lonely land lubber I cannot remain!

I’ve searched the ship from stern to bow
(A map for sea legs would help right now)
Pieces of eight I’ve longed to find
But not as much as those legs of mine
And my dear old parrot and trusty crew
Will sadly miss this old buccaneer too.

Yes, I’ve lost my sea legs
Curse the skull and bones
They’re probably at the bottom with Davy Jones
Oh, help, me hearties, to find them again
A lonely land lubber I cannot remain!

“You drunken old sod”, the first mate cried
“Sober up right now, we leave with the tide
“Get your sea legs back, we must scour the sea
“There is treasure a-waiting for you and me!”
And my loyal crew, above the fife and drum
Shouted, “Stick to the lime juice and lay off the rum!”

I’ve found my sea legs
Praise the skull and bones
They’re not at the bottom with Davy Jones
Thank you, me hearties, for finding them again
A sober pirate I will now remain!

Jim Low © 22 September 2006