“Terrible Hollow”

“Terrible Hollow”

Featured Image: The Widden Valley as it must have appeared to George and Sarah Simpson in 1846


This is the story of the Widden Valley ‘from the inside’; written and compiled by a former very refined lady resident with the objective purview and competent literacy skills to compile and augment the dossier. She married into the milieu and for many years lived a vicarious pioneering life very different to her Eastern Suburbs of Sydney origins.


Dear Bill,

We must have some psychic connection.   I was just thinking of you and reading the new information on Scone Veterinary hospital, which contains some visual presentation of the Widden Valley, when lo and behold up pops your email with a site for me to open and read.  Unfortunately, when I try to open it I just get the notice from the nursing home’s WiFi saying it won’t download.  I’ll see if one of the nurses can open it for me.

Why my thoughts drifted in your direction is because of your continual reference to the Widden Valley as “Terrible Hollow”.  Yes, the author of ‘Robbery Under Arms’, Thomas Browne, did spend a holiday in the Valley, at Baramul, I believe, and listened and digested stories told to him by the Valley settlers.  Rolf Boldrewood was Thomas Browne’s pen name.

Over the years I have written a few stories that have been published by a Newcastle publishing house, called Catchfire Press.  Some I have written about my early life in the Widden Valley and I have included some of its history.  No, not Doug Barries’.  A couple of my short stories concerning the Valley have been/and are being published in this nursing home’s magazine.  I have deliberately ‘dumbed them down’ as most residents here are very elderly and/or are Dementia sufferers.  I was wondering if you would like to hear about Terrible Hollow from my perspective?

I hope to be able to read, or listen to your email.

My thanks, best wishes and love, Jen.

The story

I wonder if you know the story of the settlement of the Widden Valley?  It was not settled in the first place by the Thompson family, although they had a lot to do with its development.  The first settlers into the Valley were a couple by the name of George and Sarah Simpson at Emu Vale.  Both children of ex-convicts, Sarah was barely 16 years old, and heavily pregnant, whilst George was some-what older.

The year was 1846 when George and Sarah made their way into the Widden Valley.  They came from the Western fall of the Mountains, not from the Hunter Valley/Eastern side.  The Widden Valley was already known to a few people, mainly troopers from the Rylstone/Mudgee districts, who found the entrance to the Valley when on the trail of runaway convicts.  I believe these troopers “discovered” the caves containing the centuries’ old Aboriginal hand prints.

George and Sarah, together with their pack horses and bullock dray, left their home on the Hawkesbury, travelled across the Blue Mountains, and then made their way onto the plateau of Nullo Mountain.  From there they crossed onto Mount Corrigudgy and scrambled their way down the mountain and into the Emu Creek branch of the Widden Valley.  Can you imagine it; 16 year old heavily pregnant girl?

Their first permanent home (most likely a one or two roomed shack) was on the banks of the Emu Creek, in what we used to call the front lucerne paddock, right at the entrance to Emu Vale.  This rudimentary home was extended over the years, but it was washed away in one of the many floods that bedevil the Emu Creek. However it was still standing when three months after their arrival in the Valley, Sarah gave birth to the first of her twelve children, completely unattended by any woman of her kith or kin.  

Down near where their home once stood by the banks of the creek is a graveyard, or cemetery, complete with marble headstones, containing the graves of both George and Sarah, and also those of 2 or 3 of their children who died in infancy.  At least, this cemetery was still there in our time in the Valley. It was surrounded by a tall, iron fence and my husband used to keep the graves weeded and generally neat and tidy.

George and Sarah’s next home stood virtually where the dear little cottage that my husband and I lived in stood.  Most of the Simpson house was pulled down by King Ranch when they purchased Emu Vale, but they left one of the main bedrooms, as well as the bathroom, separate toilet and laundry.  When the first-born Simpson son, also named George, grew to adulthood, and married, he built a home further up the Emu Creek.  This home no longer stands.  Around 1880, George Jnr. built yet another home quite close to the main homestead. This home was still extant when I lived on Emu Vale and was the home for my husband’s offsider, Brian Swords.  Our fencers and rabbiters, Clarrie and Joe lived in what had been Simpson’s dairy.

As I mentioned before, King Ranch pulled down most of what had been the Simpson homestead.  They left a bedroom, bathroom, toilet and laundry.  To these rooms, they added a very wide hallway (7 ft. wide).  At one end of the hall was built a walk-in pantry.  Four new rooms, all quite commodious, were built on: a 2nd bedroom, a sunroom or 3rd bedroom, a very large living room, and a gloriously big kitchen.  These rooms comprised the homestead, firstly for the manager of King Ranch, and after it was sold, and reverted to its original name of Emu Vale, for my husband and me.

Simpsons had been at Emu Vale for over 150 years, when they sold out to King Ranch.  King Ranch brought their Santa Gertrudis cattle there, but Emu Vale was not a successful enterprise under King Ranch’s stewardship, and they sold to Tom Flynn in 1961.  My husband took over as manager, and we stayed there until our son was of school age, even though there was a school at Widden in those days.

But back to the early days of the Widden Valley. The next family who came into the Valley were the Harrises, at Holbrook, right at the end of the Widden Valley.  They intermarried with the Simpsons, of course.  The Harris family arrived in the Valley from the Western side of the Mountains, too.

I think the Thompsons came next, probably from Nullo Mountain.  These three families, Harris, Simpson and Thompson, between them owned most of the land in the Valley in the early days.

Some few years ago now, we attended the Centenary of St. Lukes Church in the Widden Valley. After the church service we had a bring-your-own picnic in the grounds of the church.  The day held some significance for us, as my husband had been a Church Warden at Widden, and our son was baptised there.  St. Luke’s Church belonged to the greater Newcastle Diocese.  It was NOT the family chapel of the Thompson family, as Mrs Valda Thompson used to call it.  Two Simpson descendants attended the service and picnic, so mu husband obtained the keys of the front gate which was then kept locked, in order that we could take them ” back to Emu Vale” as both of these Simpsons had been born there.  We were horrified and not a little upset to see the state of the improvements. Every building was in a dilapidated state, and my dear little cottage was in an imminent state of total collapse, having been completely undermined by a multitude of wombats!  A few tears were shed that day, and we came away greatly saddened indeed.

Emu Vale and the Widden Valley still held a great significance for my husabnd and me.  Not only was Emu Vale our first marital home, it was through descendants of the Simpson family that I first met my partner.  Though not related to them himself, two of his aunts had married two Simpson descendants.  Previously I had mentioned that our son was baptised in Widden Church. One of his godfathers was a Simpson descendant and it is through him and his wife that I first met my husband.

Footnote 1:

I don’t know how “valid” my dissertation is!  I can’t say that what I have written is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The story of George and Sarah is as accurate as I know it.  It’s just that what I have written may not please any of their descendants, viz. I said that George and Sarah were children of ex-convicts.  This is 100% accurate, but their family story is somewhat less accurate, and has been handed down as such for the following generations.  It’s only quite recent that it is quite comme il faut to have a convict ancestor.

I purposely mentioned very little about the Thompsons, or the Harrises, simply because I know very little about their involvement in the early days of the Valley.  There were other people, too, who lived there in the old days, before A.O and Tom Flynn.

I know you can tell some stories about AO. Ellison, but I would like to tell you a personal one.  We had not long moved to Emu Vale, when my party-line phone rang (long-short-long was our ring).  My husband had just left to ride around to Oakleigh for some reason.  I picked up the phone when a fairly cultured voice said:

“Welcome to the Valley Mrs. E…s, you’ll find living here a bit different to the Supreme Court!”  “Yes” I spluttered, “I suppose I will”, He then went on to say that my husband had just taken a short cut, riding through Baramul, closely followed by a big black kelpie dog.  

“It is a lovely animal, but you can tell him when he comes home that all dogs are shot on sight on Baramul.  If he takes the dog home now I will spare its life this time!”  Poor man, unbeknown to him, his dog had followed him.  I quickly rang Vas Flynn and told her to send the man and his dog home via the road, and not through A.O.’s paddocks.  Dogs were shot on sight on Oakleigh, too.  A.O. Was right in one thing he said though: living in the Valley was very different from my previous existence as a member of the Supreme Court staff!  


Footnote 2:

Other histoire includes the Lee, Tindale, Thompson and Frost families as having provided original foundation settlers in the Widden Valley. These anecdotes vary according to with whom one is communicating? My very good friend the late ‘Bim’ Thompson always told me ancestral aboriginal people escorted the very first ‘white’ tribe into the valley from the Nullo direction. They told them that ‘Widden’ meant ‘stay here; go no further’ in whitefella-speak inferring ‘this is the best place to be’. They were almost certainly right; the pastures are pristine and the water supply permanent although you might have to dig for it at dry times?

Either John or William Lee is/are reputed to have maintained a massive herd of 5000 Shorthorn Cattle in the Valley. It was claimed to be the largest stud (‘pedigree’) herd in the world? Certainly members of the Lee family were some of the very first settlers in the Bathurst/Rylstone/ Bylong/Nullo areas during the early 1800s. They very sharply followed Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth over the Blue Mountains.

A Very Different Life II

A Very Different Life II

I’ve had the complete audacity and taken a great liberty in posting the following vignettes on my website ‘blog’. It’s written by a very special lady. I think I’ll let her tell her story? It’s easier to beg forgiveness than to plead for permission!

Featured Image: The ‘Widden Valley’ which Jennifer Ellis knows so very well

Fore Note: Sadly Jenifer Ellis passed away on Thursday 21st April 2019 at Bupa Roseville following a short peracute infectious episode. Fortuitously son Tim and daughter-in-law Bec were close at hand.

By Jenifer Ellis

A Very Different Life (2)

By Jenifer Ellis.

After Thunderbolt’s death in 1870, at Uralla, in the New England Ranges, at the  hands of the troopers (the local police),  peace and quiet returned to my valley.

It was fertile country with broard acres of farmland situated between the lofty peaks of the Great Dividing Range.  The valley became noted as the nursery of champion racehorses, and early Melbourne Cup winners, such as Lord Cardigan, Posinatus and Spearfelt were born and bred on its fertile pastures.  Another  racehorse of note which came from the valley in the early days was Oakleigh, winner of the Caulfield Cup in 1887,  whilst the stallions Lochiel and Grafton were the champion sires of many of the important winners in the latter part of the  1800s.

However, during the 1920s and 1930s the peace of the valley was compromised once more  when yet another “Bushranger” took up residence in my valley.  This time it was a lady, by the name of Jessie Hickman, who lived a solitary existence in a crude hut at the end of my valley.

Strictly speaking Jessie was not a “bushranger”  at all, as she didn’t rob travellers on the road. From an early age she had been apprenticed to a travelling circus where she learnt rough and trick riding and she became an expert horsewoman, who used her skill on horseback .to steal horses and cattle.  She stole the cattle and horses from the Western side of the Great Dividing Range, and brought them down the mountains and into a set of stockyards which she had constructed near her hut at the end of my valley.  From there  Jessie drove the animals on horseback to the cattle sales at the nearest Hunter Valley town, where she made a tidy profit by selling these stolen animals.  She once offered one of her horses for sale to my husband’s father.  Although it was a superior animal, my father in law declined her offer, as he was well aware of her reputation as a horse and cattle thief!

Jessie was arrested by the police on two or three occasions.  She came up before the magistrates and served a couple of stretches in Long Bay Gaol.

Eventually she became more and more eccentric, and for her own protection she was committed to protective custody at an institution  in Newcastle.  Jessie fretted for her former wild and free bush life, and she died there in the early 1930s.  She was buried in an unmarked, pauper’s grave in the Sandgate Cemetery.  However, a few years ago, a lady of my acquaintance became aware that she was Jessie’s granddaughter.  In 1911 Jessie had given birth to a son, who was given up for adoption, as Jessie realised that life in the wild country was no place for a small child.  My friend, Jessie’s granddaughter, has paid for a small plaque in the cemetery, marking Jessie’s grave.  After much research she has also written a book, detailing the story of Jessie’s life.  My friend herself died a couple of years ago, but not before she had put the record straight and had told the story about her colourful, adventuring grandmother.

My valley is known by a few people for its proximity to one of nature’s arboreal wonders, the small stand of the recently discovered Wollemi Pine.  Although not a true pine tree, but rather of the genus Araucarian, these trees were widespread in both hemispheres during Jurassic and Crestaceous periods, but up until they were stumbled upon in a canyon in wilderness terrain by a bush-walking member of the NSW National Parks, they were thought to be extinct and only existeds as 200 million year old fossils.  Although I have never seen them, it give me a thrill to think that about thirty specimens of these ” dinasaur” trees were living very near to my valley.  Perhaps Jessie had taken note of them when she passed by on her perilous journey with the stolen cattle and horses!

A Very Different Life I

A Very Different Life I

I’ve had the complete audacity and taken a great liberty in posting the following vignettes on my website ‘blog’. It’s written by a very special lady. I think I’ll let her tell her story? It’s easier to beg forgiveness than to plead for permission!

Featured Image: The ‘Widden Valley’ which Jenifer Ellis knows so very well

Fore Note: Sadly Jenifer Ellis passed away on Thursday 21st April 2019 at Bupa Roseville following a short peracute infectious episode. Fortuitously son Tim and daughter-in-law Bec were close at hand.

By Jenifer Ellis

It is close on 4 years now that I have become a resident of Bupa Roseville.  I came to reside in this Nursing Home in a rather convoluted manner.  I am here now, but perhaps I could write about the valley in which I lived as a young bride.

Although I was born and received my education in Sydney, after my marriage in 1961 I went to live on an isolated farm in the upper reaches of the Hunter Valley.  I had married a country boy who at that time was the manager of a large property, on which fat cattle were grazed, destined for the Sydney markets at Homebush.

Our home was in a valley, on the eastern fall of the Great Dividing Range.  The valley was a beautiful and peaceful place, but its history was anything but calm and tranquil.  In the early days it was the haunt of cattle thieves and bushrangers.  Its very isolation made the valley an ideal hideaway for those desperados hoping to escape the long arm of the law.

Perhaps the most infamous of those bushrangers was the self-styled Captain Thunderbolt.  Born Frederick Ward at Windsor of convict parents, at a young age Ward took to horse-stealing, and was convicted and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in the penetentiary on Cockatoo Island, in Sydney Harbour.  After serving less than three years of his sentence, Frederick Ward escaped imprisonment by swimming from the north side of the island onto land near the present-day Woolwich.

From there, Ward, or Thunderbolt as he now called himself, roamed the highways and byways of the New England ranges, holding up and robbing mail coaches and any sole traveller making his way along the dusty roads.  Thunderbolt made his home in my valley, in a cave, high up among the craggy bluffs of the surrounding mountains.  From his cave he had an excellent view of the goings on in the valley.  His particular interests were the horses belonging to the valley settlers.  He stole the best of these, one that was fresh and could outrun any pursuing mounted policeman.  It is to be said that he always left a horse in its place, albeit a tired or sore-footed one!

Living with Thunderbolt in my valley was his unchurched, but faithful wife, who went by the name of Yellow Long.  It was Wintertime in the valley, and cold and damp in Thunderbolt’s cave.  The only warmth was provided by a small fire at the cave’s entrance which offered very little protection against the biting winds that swirled along the sandstone cliffs.  Thunderbolt and Yellow Long huddled together for warmth, but after a particularly vicious snowstorm when the temperature dropped well below zero, Yellow Long became seriously ill.  Thunderbolt realised that she needed medical attention that he couldn’t provide, but above all she needed a place to rest, which was warm and dry.

Thunderbolt carried her on his saddle some sixty miles from my valley, to the nearest hospital, at Muswellbrook.  There, Yellow Long was refused admission, not because of her part-Aboriginality, but because Thunderbolt was a proscribed outlaw.  By this time she was desparately ill with Pneumonia and Thunderbolt knew that he must find help for her.

He carried Yellow Long on his saddle to the cottage of one of the valley settlers.  She was given succour the there, and the comfort of a warm bed, but despite the settler’s careful attention, Yellow Long’s condition worsened, and she died, cradled in the arms of the valley cottager.  She was buried nearby, in a dry, rocky gully by the valley settlers.  How do I know this?  The descendants of these valley settlers were my godparents.

Some twenty or more years later, a man by the name of Thomas Browne came to holiday in the valley.  He was a writer, who wrote under the pen-name of Rolf Boldrewood.  He heard stories told to him by the valley people, and later became the author of one of the country’s best-known and favourite stories, “Robbery Under Arms”.  As the title would suggest, Thomas Browne borrowed from the valley settlers’ stories for the exploits and adventures of the fictitious Captain Strarlight.

It is many years since I left my valley.  I can remember more of my life in the valley, but perhaps that can wait for another time.

Bobby Palmer & Nabinabah Breezette

Bobby Palmer & Nabinabah Breezette

Featured Image: One of the greatest performers of all time, Bobby Palmer & Nabinabah Breezette

Acknowledge Australian Stock Horse Society

In 1979 Bobby Palmer & Nabinabah Breezette won the World Championship Campdraft at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. In seven rounds they finished with three firsts, two seconds, an equal second and an equal third. This was her first Royal Easter Show and she certainly did not let the Palmer family down. As well as her win in the World Championship Campdraft she also won the Supreme Led ASH Exhibit of the Show, plus the Best Station Horse and second in the Working Horse.

Nabinabah Breezette had her name added to the Honour Roll of winners in the Warwick Gold Cup (‘Melbourne Cup’ of campdrafting) in 1981, a feat she repeated in 1984. She also repeated her success in the World Championship Campdraft at Sydney winning this event for five consecutive years from 1981 to 1985. For five years in a row she won the Best Station Horse at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and was twice the Australian Bushman’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association National Campdraft Horse of the Year in 1983 and 1984.

Other outstanding awards that Nabinabah Breezette achieved were Supreme Ridden ASH at Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1981 and 1982, Supreme Led ASH at Sydney in 1979, Champion Campdrafter at Melbourne Royal Show in 1981 and 1983, World champion Campdrafter at Chinchilla in 1979, Australian Campdraft Champion at Coonamble in 1985, and the Reserve Champion Led ASH at the Melbourne Royal Show in 1981.

At the peak of her competition career Nabinabah Breezette was nearly unbeatable, and she truly wears the crown as the Queen of Australian Stock Horses. Australia has seen many great horses in many different disciplines but it is doubtful if any horse could match the performances of this great mare.

Nabinabah Breezette

Nabinabah Breezette

Featured Image: Nabinabah Breezette (Nabinabah the Gun – FS/ Nabinabah Comma – FM)

Acknowledge the Australian Stock Horse Society

In the undulating hills of the Upper Hunter Valley near Scone, Nabinabah Breezette was born on the 26th October 1973, on the renowned Nabinabah Stud. The owner of the stud Mr David Archibald gave employee Mr Bob Palmer the pick of the young horses on the property. Bob had been raised on Thornthwaite were he absorbed many of the formative skills from his father Jack who was an outstanding horseman. Many of the working horses at Thornthwaite were derived from Gibbergunyah stock. Nabinabah the Gun’s dam Serene was acquired by David Archibald from Thornthwaite. She was a daughter of Brown Girl by Gibbergunyah.

Bob Palmer’s choice was a little bay filly with a large running star which he named Nabinabah Breezette after her full sister Nabinabah Breeze, who was already a successful polo pony and winner of camp drafts.

Nabinabah Breezette began her show career at the Hunter Branch Show held at Scone in March 1976. She won the event for two year old fillies. As a three year old, Nabinabah Breezette was educated in the sport of polo. At her very first carnival in 1977 she won Champion Novice Polo Pony, and by the end of the season she was judged Champion First Season Polo Pony.

At the Rouchel Rodeo in November 1977 Nabinabah Breezette had her first start in a campdraft. She won the Maiden and Novice campdrafts and took out the top Cut Out awards in both events. At the Walgett Show in 1978 Nabinabah Breezette was entered in a Working ASH class for the first time and won the event.

See later Bob Palmer & Nabinabah Breezette

Nabinabah the Gun – FS

Nabinabah the Gun – FS

Acknowledgement to the Australian Stock Horse Society, Scone

Featured Image:  Nabinabah the Gun – FS with David Archibald

He was always used as a paddock sire at ‘Nabinabah Stud’ in Gundy NSW

David Archibald was a polo enthusiast and always tried to breed the ultimate polo pony. In the 1940s the Finlays of Thornthwaite Station, Scone were renowned for their polo ponies with many of them carrying the Gibbergunyah line.

David began to build his stud in the years following World War II, and tried to tap into recognised breeds. He was extremely lucky to obtain from Thornthwaite an outstanding mare, Serene. Serene was out of the Gibbergunyah mare Brown Girl. Serene’s sire Pantler was a winning TB by Pantheon, an outstanding racehorse and sire. Pantheon produced 26 Principal Race winners, with his most famous being the great Peter Pan, winner of the 1932 AJC Derby and the VRC Melbourne Cup in 1932 and 1934.

David joined Serene to Bob Mackay’s great polo pony and sire, Panzer (See: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/panzer-foundation-sire/ ) to produce Nabinabah the Gun – FS in 1957. Panzer played polo for Bob Mackay winning some of the biggest tournaments of the time, before it ill health forced Bob Mackay to retire from playing. Panzer was only 11 years old when Bob Mackay retired, and at that time he felt that Panzer was still reaching his peak, as every chukka he played was better than the last.

Panzer was by Panthom, who was by Pantheon, so Nabinabah the Gun – FS had this great sire on both sides of his pedigree. Panzer’s dam Nellie was by Kangon, whose dam Diffidence had won the Sydney Cup. Diffidence was also the grandam of Nellie’s dam Gooralai. Panzer is also the sire of another Foundation Stallion, Myra Bronze – FS.

The descendants of Nabinabah the Gun – Fs have proved wonderfully adaptive horses, not only now starring on polo fields but also excelling in campdrafting, polocrosse and show work. These horses are renowned for their beautiful shoulder, rein and headset. With over 8,000 descendants, Nabinabah the Gun – FS is the seventh most influential sire in the Australian stock Horse stud Book.

‘The Sewer of Social Media’

‘The Sewer of Social Media’

Featured Image: Mike Atherton

I swore I wouldn’t buy into this debate. However I’m motivated to do so following an excellent article by Mike Atherton in the London Times and ‘The Australian’.

See: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/author/Mike%20Atherton

‘Smith’s tears jolt for every father who has a son’.

Mike has also not been backward in coming forward; or where his sympathies lie. He is on the front foot in an ‘Odious stink of hypocrisy’. I don’t always agree with Mike Atherton. As with many other high profile media moguls there can be tsunamis of self-righteous indignation and nationalistic tub-thumping at times. Gideon Haig is my personal choice as a truly objective unsullied commentator.

However Mike Atherton included in his narrative on Steve Smith the following seminal vignette on the state of play with our ‘sporting’ social media:

 “To see the sewer of social media rising in indignation, swaying this way and that, changing opinion on the wind of every unverified fact was to recognise something deeply unpleasant in human nature”.

It’s a very percipient piece; and I agree! I’m still a firm ‘rejectionist’ when it applies to the so-called pusillanimous communication cesspit so accurately identified by Mike Atherton. Both the protagonists and antagonists aren’t held accountable for their opinions or accusations. It’s all so cowardly, tasteless and feeble! I have my own descriptors of this sort of activity: ‘egregious otiose ordure’ and the ‘captious caviling of the carping curs’.

It’s also a reflection of our society. In a state of high dudgeon I eventually resigned my beloved Gold Membership of the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2015. I append my letter of resignation at the end of this submission. I have to say I was appalled by the attitude and behaviour of some in the members section of the SCG. They were identifiable as typical arriviste nouveaux parvenus of a certain genre, gender and generation. Maybe I’m just a ‘sanctimonious old flatulent’; as claimed by at least one of them? The actual verbatim accusation was much less polite! I identify it as declining standards in our society. Social ‘cricketing’ etiquette is a dead duck; excuse the unintended pun. No-one waits for the end of the over anymore as a courtesy while leaving a seat. Beer ‘swilling-and-spilling’ has become the ‘norm’.

If the purported egregious vile filth perpetrating as sanitised ‘sledging’ on the field is at least half true then I won’t be missing anything (see below)? For example I will not be supporting a worthy charity on the 3rd. day of the annual SCG Test as I have done in the past. The cause is noble; but the proponent is not!

Writing about yet another Wallaby defeat in ‘The Australian’ Monday 17th September 2017) Wayne Smith writes: “It’s the menacing anonymity of social media. Everyone can express an opinion but rarely is anyone held accountable for it”. Smith was writing about the egregious behaviour of a disgruntled Wallaby fan-post match following the loss to the Argentinian Pumas.

My very good friend trainer Pat Farrell from Muswellbrook has a much more basic and prosaic but equally profound philosophical purview: “Opinions are like a…..s; everyone’s got one”!

“The Tyranny of (Righteous) Opinion”

Professor Emeritus of Sociology at La Trobe University John Carroll wrote a very insightful article under the heading above in ‘The Australian’, Inquirer, Saturday 18 January 2020:

‘Proclaiming shallow virtue from the social media pulpit is the new religion’

“The Battle of the Will” SMH ‘Books’, Saturday 4th February 2023: Will Self; ‘Why Read’:

“People marching up and down, on social media pushing their products, banging their little drum and trying to sell shit is not a very edifying spectacle” he says.

The Sewer of Social Media II

“Perhaps the greatest threat to civilization” 

Recent ‘convergence of atrocities’ (Peter Hartcher, ‘Nation must look in the mirror’ SMH 20/04/24) has homed in on the social media companies who provide the platforms for ‘ratbags and their ilk’ to coordinate their criminally egregious agendas. The stabbings at Bondi Junction and the knifing at Wakeley shortly thereafter were disastrous sequelae to horrendous acts of violence. While apportioning of blame is a burning hot topic, a cautionary tale is to take a step back and contemplate. “The social media companies reflect the world in which we live” (SMH correspondent 22/04/24).

Word Puzzles!


A Little Light Learning!

Was this the forerunner of the filthy, foul-mouthed, vindictive vituperative so prevalent; and dispensed widely on so many social media platforms today?  How did the Chaucer-age Englishman, if he was literate, convey his innermost thoughts and opinions?

Many professional colleagues have commented on my barely comprehensible use of words and the English language in general! My secondary school teacher vehemently expressed the same critical opinion 55 years prior with profound deleterious effect on my grades! I had great difficulty in making it ‘over the line’ for the absolutely necessary pre-requisite pass in the subject to attain University entrance! This will surprise no one! Perhaps I spent too much time on the playing fields and too little in the library?

I was once presented with a small copy of a book by Guy Noble ‘Word of the Day’. This is an etymological compilation of the wonderful words and what they mean as heard on ABC Classic FM radio in Sydney. Guy Noble has been the host of ‘Breakfast’ on ABC Classic FM since 1999. He is also a conductor, pianist, incurable word buff and father of two small children.

Purely to be obtuse (I’m good at it!)I composed the following from words (with definitions) appearing in ‘Word of the Day’. I believe it makes a sentence although my ‘Windows 98 Spell Check’ refutes the spelling and has great difficulty with most of the words!


“The pixilated slubberdegullion uxorious poodlefaker was a blutterbunged flibbertigibbet last night, cachinating to a lickspittle before haughmagandy, susurration and persiflage with a prurient soubrette slooming it off before dysania and becoming caliginous gutfoundered with tintinnabulation on a muckle turdiform fuscous goatsucker followed by borborygmus and afflatus!”


Perhaps I should explain? Some of them are not what you might think! I have on occasion been slightly ‘blutterbunged’, mildly ‘pixilated’ and the merest trifle ‘puggled’ myself! I’m feeling a trite tittup today as I spuddle about my umbonate! It’s all crapulous logorrhoea to me!


Pixilated = Bewildered, crazy, drunk: as amusingly eccentric as a titillated pixie!

Slubberdegullion = A worthless, slovenly fellow

Uxorious = Excessively fond of one’s wife

Poodlefaker = A youth too much given to tea parties and ladies’ society generally

Blutterbunged = Confounded; overcome by surprise (from Lincolnshire)

Flibbertigibbet = Flighty, gossiping person

Cachinating = To laugh loudly or immoderately

Lickspittle = A toady

Haughmagandy = Adulterous sexual intercourse

Susurration = Whispering or rustling

Persiflage = Light raillery, banter

Prurient = Given to or arising from indulgence in lewd ideas

Soubrette = In 18th century French theatre, a clever but impertinent servant girl

Slooming = Sleeping heavily and soundly

Dysania = Having a hard time waking in the morning

Caliginous = Misty, dim, dark

Gutfoundered = Exceedingly hungry

Tintinnabulation = Ringing, tinkling

Muckle = A large amount

Turdiform = Having the form of a thrush

Fuscous = Sombre; dark coloured

Goatsucker = Common name for nocturnal birds such as frogmouth and nightjar

Borborygmus = A rumbling of the guts

Afflatus = A sudden rush of divine inspiration

Tittup = To move or behave in a restless manner; caper, prance, frisk (impatient horse)

Spuddle = To go about a trifling business as though it were a matter of great importance

Umbonate = Having a rounded boss or protuberance in the centre

Logorrhoea = Excessive flow of words

Crapulous = Suffering the effects of intemperance

My spouse was indubitably not amused when I described her as a “trite tittup” today!

W. P. Howey

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