includes details of ebooks placed online during
MARCH 2009

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News and Reviews

The Final Newsletter

After almost two years I am putting down my pen. This is the final newsletter. I hope you have enjoyed past issues and that they have provided you with some signposts to exploring our ebook collection. I find that I am away from my desk quite a bit and it is difficult to keep up with creating new items for inclusion in the newsletter.

Details of new books placed online each month may be found at

Australian Dictionaries

March postings included 'A Dictionary of Austral English' (1898) edited by Edward E Morris (1843-1902).

We also have two other 'Australian' Dictionaries:

'A Dictionary of Australian Words And Terms' (1924?) edited by Gilbert H Lawson

'A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language' (1812) edited by James Hardy VAUX.

All three works are interesting in their own way.

* * * * *

'A Dictionary of Austral English' is a scholarly work by Edward E. Morris M.A., Oxon., Professor of English, French and German Languages and Literatures in the University of Melbourne. Much background is provided, including the sources and classification of words, as well as the dictionary itself. A few examples from the dictionary:

Hot climate and country work have brought in a fashion among bushmen of wearing a belt or leather strap round the top of trousers instead of braces. This often causes a fold in the shirt protruding all round from under the waistcoat, which is playfully known as "the Australian flag."

(1) The far interior of Australia, and away from settled country. Land in Australia is divided on the survey maps into blocks, a word confined, in England and the United States, to town lands.

(2) The parts of a station distant from the frontage (q.v.).

1872. Anon. 'Glimpses of Life in Victoria,' p. 31:

"...we were doomed to see the whole of our river-frontage purchased...The back blocks which were left to us were insufficient for the support of our flocks, and deficient in permanent water-supply..."

1880. J. Mathew, Song--'The Bushman':

"Far, far on the plains of the arid back-blocks
A warm-hearted bushman is tending his flocks.
There's little to cheer in that vast grassy sea:
But oh! he finds pleasure in thinking of me.
How weary, how dreary the stillness must be!
But oh! the lone bushman is dreaming of me."

1890. E. W. Horning, 'A Bride from the Bush,' p. 298:

"'Down in Vic' you can carry as many sheep to the acre as acres to the sheep up here in the 'backblocks.'"

* * *

'A Dictionary of Australian Words And Terms' is a list of words with short definitions:

SALT-BUSH--Alkaline herb growing in interior.
SALT JUNK--Corned beef.
SANDY-BLIGHT--Kind of ophthalmia.
SAVVY--Pidgin English meaning "do you understand?"
SCAB--Non-union labourer.
SCALER--A fraud.
SCHNAPPER--Good-eating Australian fish.
SCHOOL--Gathering of gamblers.
SCOOT--To clear out; also continued bout of drunkenness.
SCRAG--To pull about.

* * *

'A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language' is a dictionary of Australian slang, and the earliest dictionary of any kind produced in Australia.

STING: to rob or defraud a person or place is called stinging them, as, that cove is too fly; he has been stung before; meaning that man is upon his guard; he has already been trick'd.

STINK: When any robbery of moment has been committed, which causes much alarm, or of which much is said in the daily papers, the family people will say, there is a great stink about it. See WANTED.

Australian Poetry

Our poetry for this month is 'The Spider by the Gwydir' by an anonymous writer. The Gwydir is a river in New South Wales. The Gwydir Shire Council states that 'Gwydir Country' is in the centre of the Fossickers' Way, a route which offers the traveller a relaxing alternative to the New England or Newell Highways. The council area incorporates the towns of Bingara and Warialda and the villages of Coolatai, Cobbadah, Croppa Creek, Gravesend, North Star, Upper Horton and Warialda Rail. (I couldn't resist including those lyrical names.)

The poem has many slang words including the following. Alas, none of the words was mentioned in any of the dictionaries mentioned above, so it was necessary to refer to the Macquarie Dictionary for help with definitions.

spiel--a glib or plausible story, esp. for the purpose of persuasion or seduction
spieler--one who delivers a spiel
keep nit honey--keep watch my dear
rooker--swindler or cheat
spruik (of a showman, or spruiker)--to harangue prospective customers to induce them into his tent

by Anonymous

By the sluggish River Gwydir
Lived a wicked red-backed spider,
Who was just about as vicious as could be:
And the place that he was camped in
Was a rusty Jones's jam-tin
In a paddock by the show-grounds at Moree.

Near him lay a shearer snoozin':
He had been on beer and boozin'
All through the night and all the previous day;
And the rookin' of the rookers,
And the noise of showtime spruikers,
Failed to wake him from the trance in which he lay.

Then a crafty-lookin' spieler
With a dainty little sheila
Came along collecting wood to make a fire.
Said the spieler, 'He's a boozer
And he's goin' to be a loser:
If he isn't, you can christen me a liar.

'Hustle round and keep nit honey,
While I fan the mug for money,
And we'll have some little luxuries for tea.'
She answered, 'Don't be silly:
You go back and boil the billy.
You can safely leave the mug to little me!'

So she circled ever nearer,
Till she reached the dopey shearer
With his pockets bulgin', fast asleep and snug:
But she did not see the spider
That was ringin' close beside her,
For her mind was on the money and the mug.

The spider sighted dinner.
He'd been daily growing thinner;
He'd been fasting and was hollow as an urn.
As she eyed the bulging pocket,
He just darted like a rocket
And he bit that rookin' sheila on the stern.

Then the sheila raced off squealin',
And her clothes she was un-peelin':
To hear her yells would make you feel forlorn.
One hand the bite was pressin',
While the other was undressin',
And she reached the camp the same as she was born!

Then the shearer, pale and haggard,
Woke, and back to town he staggered,
Where he caught the train and gave the booze a rest:
And he'll never know the spider,
That was Camped beside the Gwydir,
Had saved him sixty smackers of the best!

St Patricks Day

I'm sorry to say that I missed including this subject in my March Newsletter as St Patrick's day falls on 17th March.

Australia has a long association with the Irish and many Irish people have come to Australia since the First Fleet arrived in 1788. Our ebook, "The Irish in Australia" by James Francis Hogan might be of interest to those wishing to pursue the subject further.

David Collins in his "An Account of the English Colony of NSW", Volume 1, had this to say:

"On the 17th [March, 1795] St. Patrick found many votaries in the settlement. Some Cape brandy lately imported in the Britannia appeared to have arrived very seasonably; and libations to the saint were so plentifully poured, that at night the cells were full of prisoners."

Things haven't changed much in 200 years.

Last month's postings

A list of all the books we provide is available from
Check there to see if there are other works by the authors listed below

Mar 2009 The Headless Horseman, Mayne Reid                 [] 1749A or .zip
Mar 2009 The Wades; a memorial, Walter N Wyeth             [] 1748A
[Title: The Wades: Jonathan Wade, Deborah B L Wade; a memorial] or .zip
Mar 2009 The Vintons and the Karens, Calista V Luther      [] 1747A or .zip
Mar 2009 A Dictionary of Austral English, Edward E Morris  [] 1746A or .zip
Mar 2009 Soo Thah, Alonzo Bunker                           [] 1745A
[Title: Soo Thah: A Tale of the Making of the Karen Nation] or .zip
Mar 2009 Tounghoo Women, Ellen B Mason                     [] 1744A or .zip
Mar 2009 A grammar of the Sgaw Karen,David Chandler Gilmore[] 1743A
Mar 2009 Voyage of Will Rogers to the South Pole, Spotswood[] 1742A
[Author: Christopher Spotwswood] or .zip
Mar 2009 The Fellowship of the Frog, Edgar Wallace         [] 1741A or .zip
Mar 2009 The Battle of Mordialloc, Samuel Mullen           [] 1740A or .zip
Mar 2009 Historical Sketch of the Two Synagogues,M Brodzky [] 1739A
[Author: Maurice Brodzky]
[Title: Historical Sketch of the Two Melbourne Synagogues]

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Newsletter Editor: Colin Choat.

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