Ah Longreach! Home of the Stockmans Hall of Fame, birthplace of QANTAS - oh, pipe down Winton! Photo by L.J. May.
Hanrahan and his little mate Chookie propping up the bar as per usual at the Last Chance Hotel somewhere between Winton and nowhere. Illustration by Alan Rose.


The Adventures of Hanrahan

In which Hanrahan tells his little mate Chooky about the time he went to Roma to see his girlfriend and got himself cultured - and he has the bar's attention!



Hanrahan and his little mate Chookie were propping up the bar as per usual at the Last Chance Hotel somewhere between Winton and nowhere. It was hot and dusty outside, but the pub’s walls were made of stone and it was built over an underground river, which helped to keep the interior deliciously cool.

The place was chock-a-block with drovers, station hands, truckies and a Salvation Army Major collecting insurance premiums from the Salvos’ future customers. Hanrahan figured it was time for another beer but he had no intention of paying for it.

‘Yep,’ he said loudly. ‘I went to Yangabilla down Roma way to see me girl and get a bit of a kiss and cuddle. But that’s not what happened.’ And he had the bar’s attention.

No one moved for a while but eventually there was a stir as someone spoke to the barman.

‘I will have another,’ said Hanrahan. ‘Thanks a lot.’ And he saluted the bloke that bought it.

‘Now, as you know,’ Hanrahan continued (ostensibly to Chookie but all ears at the bar were flapping), ‘we’d just finished mustering and like I said I decided to go down to Yangabilla to see me girl Sheila and get a few home comforts.

‘I blow into Roma and check into the hotel I always stay at. Then I borrow a mate’s ute and drive out to the property. Sheila’s mum and dad (you might remember) hail from the Isa, but they reckoned it was a bit rough up there for a good looking sort like Sheila so they sent her down to Roma to do nursing at the hospital. That was ten years ago and she’s still there.

‘So she’s still living with her Uncle Tom and Aunt Bertha on their property, and the truth is that her Aunt Bertha’s a bit of a worry. She was alright until she had one of those genies done and found out she was related to some royal family in Europe. She’s been up herself ever since. 

‘She keeps telling Sheila that she can do a lot better than me, her being of royal stock and all, so it’s softly, softly in that direction, which explains what happened next. Anyway, I put on me best clobber and drove out there thinking that Sheila and me can have some dinner and go to the flicks in Roma.

‘I roll up to the front door and Sheila meets me looking like a real knockout, all flushed and eager to see me, and I think, you little beauty! But then she says, “We’ve got to go and see a play!”

‘I say, “Whaddya mean we’ve got to go and see a play and where the heck’s it on anyway?”

‘She says, “At the Yangabilla Civic Centre. Auntie says we’re not cultured enough so she’s brought out Mrs Fortescue-Smythe from the Literary Society in Brisbane to give us a lecture on the bard, and then a bunch of theatrical people are going to put on a play as well.”

‘Now, I don’t mind telling you this isn’t what I had in mind and I said so, but she looked so pleading and everything that I thought, well, I may as well go along with it and afterwards maybe I’ll get lucky.

‘After a few words with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Tom (who looks like he’s about to be hanged) Sheila and me set off in the ute for the Civic Centre, which is Aunt Bertha’s pride and joy.

‘When we get there, there’s about three hundred people crowded into the place – there can’t be much to do in Yangabilla. Luckily, one of the stockmen had enough brains to bring along a keg and he’s set it up in the back paddock so the womenfolk won’t find out about it. I bet they’re still wondering why every bloke in the place suddenly developed shocking bladder problems and had to go to the loo every fifteen minutes.

‘So there we are, and this woman turns up who looks like a clothes peg with glasses and starts to give us a talk. “Does anyone know what a bard is?” she wants to know. Of course Aunt Bertha pipes up and says, “Shakespeare,” and the lady nods and says, “Yes indeed – very good. Not only Shakespeare, however, but we’ll start with him. “Can anyone tell me about the works of Shakespeare?”

‘Now I want to make a good impression on Sheila, and I remember doing something on this at school – slept through most of it admittedly, but I figure I can score a few points with Sheila and her Aunt Bertha so I says, “Yeah! He’s the one who wrote about the pig!” She looks a bit confused and then she says, “Surely you don’t mean Hamlet,” and I says, “Yeah that’s right! The one about the pig.”

‘A few people start snickering but I dunno why. I knew a darn sight more about it than they did. But before long the woman starts to read poetry by some Pom called Thomas Hardy. I doze off and the next thing I know Sheila’s kicking me in the foot saying, “She’s finished!” and I say, “Thank God for that!” and she gives me a dirty look.

More Hanrahan...P.2.

On the other hand, Winton has something Longreach doesn't have! They're not quite sure what to do with it, but they've got it. An abstract sculptural piece on the throwaway nature of our consumer society. That's their story and they're sticking to it. Photo by L.J. May.