As I mentioned previously, Slim Dusty sang as often about those who drive trucks as he did about those who ride horses.
Slim Dusty’s songs about truckers range from the humorous to the romantic to the tragic. “Dieseline Dreams” falls into the romantic category (here meaning “romance of the road,” not “boy meets girl”). I love the sense of hope and joy conveyed by the song.
On the trip recounted in my book Waltzing Australia, I first encountered road trains in a local tourist magazine left in my motel room in Alice Springs. It advised that drives should make sure they have lots of room if passing, as road trains average 150 feet in length, and then warned to never force one to swerve off the road, as the amount of rock and gravel its tires will throw up could shatter your windshield. I would, during my six months in Oz, see many road trains. This video offers several views of this outback monster, with their multiple trailers. They’re only found on long, straight roads with little traffic, as they’d be completely unmanageable otherwise. But they are mightily impressive, and I imagine driving one would be as exciting — and unnerving — as riding a dinosaur.
Oh — and dieseline is a diesel/gasoline blend that is cleaner/greener than standard diesel fuel.
Now that I’m in Slim Dusty mode, I can’t resist posting another song.
I bought the album “Walk a Country Mile” during my first trip to Australia. This song in particular became a favorite over the years because it reflected for me what life was like. My favorite lines in the song are “you meet a friend or two along the highway, and you learn a lot you never knew before. And if the journey takes a lifetime when you thought a year or two, well you just don’t give up easy anymore.” It’s a great song to hear when the road feels long — and even when you feel like you’re getting somewhere but it took a while.
The song was written by Joy McKean, considered the “grand lady” of Australian country music — who also happened to be Slim Dusty’s wife. In this video, Joy joins Slim on stage.
Hope all my Aussie friends are enjoying a wonderful Australia Day. And for my non-Aussie friends, here is a bit of Australiana that is worth knowing, at least if you hope to travel Down Under.
I’m celebrating Australia Day up here in the frozen north by listening to Slim Dusty songs (and I may have a bit of Vegemite later — still have a jar from my last trip). It’s hard to pick a favorite Slim Dusty song to share, as there are so many I came to love during my travels in Australia — so maybe I’ll just have to post a few more songs this week.
With more than 100 albums released over a 6-decade career, Slim Dusty’s music has been called “the soundtrack of Australia.” His songs celebrate the most notable elements of Australia’s history, culture, and present. Dusty did a lot of songs about cowboys (known as ringers, drovers, or stockmen in Australia), and at least as many about truck drivers. He also sang of country pubs, old friends, family, food, traveling, life in the Outback, and how life was changing. He passed away in 2003, but his music lives on.
One of his earliest hits — a song that has itself become part of the Australian culture — was his recording of a humorous lament by Gordon Parsons titled “The Pub With No Beer.” I believe this may be almost as widely known in Australia as “Waltzing Matilda.”
In Australia, this will be a long weekend, as Monday is Australia Day, the celebration of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, which initiated European settlement of the land Down Under.
In the spirit of that celebration, here is Australia’s legendary Slim Dusty (whom we lost in 2003, sad to say) performing Oz’s “unofficial national anthem” at the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It’s fun to see everyone sing along so enthusiastically. If you watch the video, keep an eye out for a few other Aussie icons.
Fires are not an unusual occurrence in Australia, but this year’s fires near Adelaide are proving to be among the worst in recent memory.
While the devastation is stunning, with homes destroyed, lives disrupted, people injured, and thousands of acres of glorious bushland devastated, there are still charming vignettes that become popular viewing. Koalas don’t normally drink water, getting the moisture they need from the leaves they eat. However, with leaves dried out or consumed by fire, koalas are having to depend on humans for water, which has led to a spate of videos being uploaded when Aussies have come across koalas that are more than happy to accept water from humans.
Not all the koala stories are so cute, however. Koalas move slowly, so they are more likely to get caught than swifter animals. That has led to the need for care–and mittens.