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An incomplete glossary of Australian terms and concepts which may prove helpful to understanding this book:

Billy: Any container used to boil water, especially for tea; a special container designed for this purpose.

Bunyip: [pronounced bun-yup] A large mythological creature, said by the Aborigines to inhabit watery places. There may be some relation to an actual creature that is now extinct. Lawson uses an obsolete sense of the term, meaning “imposter”.

Gin: An aboriginal woman; use of the term is analogous to “squaw” in N. America. May be considered derogatory in modern usage.

Goanna: Any of various lizards of the genus Varanus (monitor lizards) native to Australia.

Graft: Work; hard work.

Gunyah: (Aboriginal) A rough or temporary hut or shelter in the bush, especially one built from bark, branches, and the like. A humpy, wurley, or mia-mia. Variant: Gunya.

Jackeroo/Jackaroo: At the time Lawson wrote, a Jackaroo was a “new chum” or newcomer to Australia, who sought work on a station to gain experience. The term now applies to any young man working as a station hand. A female station hand is a Jillaroo.

Jimmy Woodser: A person who drinks alone; a drink drunk alone.

Larrikin: A hoodlum.

Lorry: A large, low wagon without sides, used for heavy loads.

Mia-mia: (Aboriginal) A rough or temporary hut or shelter in the bush, especially one built from bark, branches, and the like. A humpy, wurley, or gunyah.

Native bear: A koala.

Pa: A Maori village.

'Possum/Possum: In Australia, a class of marsupials that were originally mistaken for the American animal of the same name. They are not especially related to the possums of North and South America, other than being marsupials.

Public/Pub.: The traditional pub. in Australia was a hotel with a “public” bar — hence the name. The modern pub has often (not always) dispensed with the lodging, and concentrated on the bar.

Push: A group of people sharing something in common; Lawson uses the word in an older and more particular sense, as a gang of violent city hoodlums.

Ratty: Shabby, dilapidated; somewhat eccentric, perhaps even slightly mad.

Selector: A free selector, a farmer who selected and settled land by lease or license from the government.

Shout: To buy a round of drinks.

Skillion: A lean-to or outbuilding.

Sliprails/slip-rails: movable rails, forming a section of fence, which can be taken down in lieu of a gate. “Over the Sliprails”, the title of this volume, might be translated as “Through the Gate”.

Squatter: A person who first settled on land without government permission, and later continued by lease or license, generally to raise stock; a wealthy rural landowner.

Station: A farm or ranch, especially one devoted to cattle or sheep.

Stoush: Violence; to do violence to.

Tea: In addition to the regular meaning, Tea can also mean a light snack or a meal (i.e., where Tea is served). In particular, Morning Tea (about 10 AM) and Afternoon Tea (about 3 PM) are nothing more than a snack, but Evening Tea (about 6 PM) is a meal. When just “Tea” is used, it usually means the evening meal. Variant: Tea-time.

Tucker: Food.

Whare: [pronounced war-ee] A Maori term for a hut or similar dwelling.

Also: a hint with the seasons — remember that the seasons are reversed from those in the northern hemisphere, hence June may be hot, but December is even hotter. Australia is at a lower latitude than the United States, so the winters are not harsh by US standards, and are not even mild in the north. In fact, large parts of Australia are governed more by “dry” versus “wet” than by Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter.

(Alan R. Light, Monroe, North Carolina, April 1998.)

A number of obvious errors were corrected, after being compared against other editions. To wit:

“The Shanty-Keeper's Wife”:

The line, “as if the frozen south were spitting at your face and neck and hands, and our feet grew big as camel's” is given in other texts as “OUR face” &c. and “big as CAMELS'”. While not grammatically correct, an argument can be made that the first example does at least make sense, so it remains.

[ “we can't afford to wait! We're only ‘battlers’, and me and my mate, ] changed to: [ “we can't afford to wait! We're only ‘battlers’, me and my mate, ]

[ by the wayside. We're got to catch ] changed to: [ by the wayside. We've got to catch ]

[ changed the subject for awhile ] changed to: [ changed the subject for a while ]

“A Gentleman Sharper and Steelman Sharper”:

[ a world where I could'nt trust anybody ] changed to: [ a world where I couldn't trust anybody ]

[ “Ten of em's yours.” ] changed to: [ “Ten of 'em's yours.” ]

“An Incident at Stiffner's”:

[ better go out for awhile ] changed to: [ better go out for a while ]

[ over the open for awhile. ] changed to: [ over the open for a while. ]

“The Hero of Redclay”:

[ mooned round for awhile, ] changed to: [ mooned round for a while, ]

[ and sometimes they yarned for awhile. ] changed to: [ and sometimes they yarned for a while. ]

[ I guessed they's been down fishing ] changed to: [ I guessed they'd been down fishing ]

[ and the first drop came peltering down. ] changed to: [ and the first drops came peltering down. ]

In this (original) edition, the description of the Bank is given: [ the front room to the right (behind the office) was the family bedroom, and the one opposite it was the living room. ] while in later editions, it is given in more detail: [ the front room to the right was the office, behind that was the family bedroom, the front room to the left was Miss Wilson's bedroom, and behind that was the living room. ]

An example of the reverse also occurs in this story, where later editions omitted the parenthetical comment from [ the police station (still called the Police Camp) and the Courthouse. ]

“A Case for the Oracle”:

[ and decided to speak to Alf in a friendly way about in the morning. ] changed to: [ and decided to speak to Alf in a friendly way about it in the morning. ]

[ for there was nothing more said for awhile. ] changed to: [ for there was nothing more said for a while. ]

“A Daughter of Maoriland”:

[ at least, she had a rag of dress on ] changed to: [ at least, she had a rag of a dress on ]

“New Year's Night”:

[ blinked at the clay floor for awhile; ] changed to: [ blinked at the clay floor for a while; ]

[ “Good God! What is the matter, Mary. You're sick! (They had had little or no experience of illness.) Tell me, Mary — come now! ] changed to: [ >“Good God! What is the matter, Mary? You're sick!” (They had had little or no experience of illness.) “Tell me, Mary — come now! ]

[ and send 'em for the doctor and someone —.” ] changed to: [ and send 'em for the doctor and someone —” ]

[ — an — it's New Year's Night!” ] changed to: [ — an' — it's New Year's Night!” ]

[ “Yes!” (“I knew they'd come for you,” said Johnny to Mrs. Mears.) ] changed to: [ “Yes!” (“I knew they'd come for you,” said Mrs. Mears to Johnny.) ]

“Black Joe”:

[ and Black Jimmie put his hand on his knees ] changed to: [ and Black Jimmie put his hands on his knees ]

[ and the conventialities of civilisation. ] changed to: [ and the conventionalities of civilisation. ]

[ oak grubs and gohanna ] changed to: [ oak grubs and goanna ] “Gohanna” may be a correct obsolete spelling, but it could not be confirmed. “Goanna” is certainly a correct spelling.

“Two Boys at Grinder Brothers'”:

The title of this story is given as above in the table of contents, and as “Two Boys at Grinder Bros.'” in the text. A comparison with two other editions both yielded “Two Boys at Grinder Bros”, so it is hard to say which one is correct. The full length version has been retained.

[ “Arvie Aspinal.” ] changed to: [ “Arvie Aspinall.” ] as this spelling of the character's name is used elsewhere by Lawson.

[ “I got nine,” he said. “Your's younger'n you?” ] changed to: [ “I got nine,” he said. “Yours younger'n you?” ]

“The Selector's Daughter”:

[ box and stringy bark saplings. ] changed to: [ box and stringy-bark saplings. ]

“The Story of the Oracle”:

[ if he gets deaf for awhile when you're talking, ] changed to: [ if he gets deaf for a while when you're talking, ]

[ and a — short one!’ And it was!

“‘Go on,’ said Mitchell — ‘go on!’ ] changed to: [ and a — short one!' And it was!” Joe paused.

“Go on,” said Mitchell — “go on!” ] “Joe paused.” was added in conformity with other editions, as it appears here to have been omitted as an oversight. The quotation marks were changed as seemed merited by the text. (Other editions, however, dispense with the last exclamation mark.)

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