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Gallery: Never Never land, Mataranka

Out on the wastes of the Never Never -
That’s where the dead men lie!
There where the heat-waves dance forever -
That’s where the dead men lie!

- Barcroft Henry Boake (‘Where the dead men lie‘, 1897)

Sydney-born bush poet Barcroft Henry Boake‘s take on the Never Never region in the Northern Territory sounds just about like how we felt entering into that somewhat unforgiving heat/humidity mix of the tropics. Experiencing it for the first time was rather unpleasant, to be honest, and it took some getting used to, but it was also quite interesting. I have always associated the sun going down after a long and painfully warm day with a sigh of relief, that takes the edge off. But the experience in this climate is something rather different. As the sun goes down and the humidity goes up, it actually feels warmer – and much stickier. Going to sleep in a tent, you almost watch yourself melt into large pools of sweat. Perhaps it was this experience that influenced Boake’s most famous piece of poetry. (I say this entirely without claiming we were roughing it like he would have roughed it in his time).

On another observational note, I think that as a Norwegian I should acknowledge that Barcroft Boake is also recognised for writing Australia’s first ever skiing poem, The Demon Snow-Shoes


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