Story By John Dunn

Stone the crows and starve the lizards, this is where the birds fly backwards to keep the sun out of their eyes, where the kids fix roo bars on their skateboards, where people look like stunned mullets ... When we start to rabbit on, and where a disgruntled neighbour may shout, “I hope your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down!”

Yer gotta laugh! That’s what we’ve been doing in the bush ever since the country began – laughing at ourselves, at each other and all the predicaments we find ourselves in. It’s a humorous attitude – looking on the light side, always reaching for the bright side – and it’s one of the most important characteristics of the people of inland Australia.
No matter how dire the crisis and irrespective of what calamity might have just occurred or be about to happen – whether it be flood, fire or famine – let’s take time out for a joke. Let’s laugh, even if it’s only for a moment, before we get down to dealing with adversity that threatens to overcome us.
That really is the Australian way, particularly in the bush. It has always been so. Wit can win many battles. It can be a huge help and a significant defence mechanism. The first European arrivals here might not have survived without the ability to lighten up, to look with amusement into and beyond what loomed as a threatening, suffocating situation. They lived by a philosophy of, “Let’s laugh first and then we’ll tackle the worst”. To joke about tragedies was, and still is, a way of coping with them. It may not solve the problem but it certainly helps in dealing with it. There’s even humour, admittedly black, in Henry Lawson’s assertion: “Death is about the only cheerful thing in the bush.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #86

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2013