“You Do The Work” – Ted Fogarty, Lucy Creek Station, NT

Host: Kent Saddlery
Written by Helen Kent.

This tribute and story excerpt has been contributed by Lyle and Helen Kent of Kent Saddlery, from their book “Stories of Australian Country People“. Following the recent passing of Merv Wortley Senior of Ruby Plains Station, Halls Creek, WA, we received more sad news from Allan Fogarty of Lucy Creek Station, NT. Allan’s Dad, Ted Fogarty had died at age 94.

Born at Vesty’s Delamere Station near Katherine, NT, Ted left school at 13 and criss-crossed the country, droving, ringing and working in a range of jobs which included digging desert wells. His yearning and determination to have his own place was realised in the early 1960’s and Lucy Creek was his ‘stopping place’ for 35 years.

From a lifetime of stock experiences, Ted’s accumulation of stories was large and his memory for the details of places and events acute. He was a gifted story teller and Lyle and Helen felt privileged to have met Ted during their annual business trips to the Outback. As a tribute to Ted we are sharing an excerpt of Ted’s story, featured in Helen’s coffee table book, ‘Stories of Australian Country People’.

Our sincere sympathy and condolences go to all the Fogarty family and the many people and friends who knew and appreciated Ted Fogarty.

After the death of their Dad, Dave took to droving. “When he went on that first droving trip he was too young to put his name on the waybill. He had to get an older fella to take responsibility and they went for three trips one year and another three trips the next year. After that he worked for Charlie Schultz at Humbert River.”

Ted continues to reveal vivid memories. “When we were at Buffalo Springs, Dave was riding and his horse stumbled on an ant hill. Dave was thrown and hit his back on the back of the saddle. Broke his pelvis. We wired through to Timber Creek and the police were coming down the Victoria River on the other side, to meet us. Me and two aboriginal blokes, we made a boat out of two 44 gallon drums, with saplings tied on with wire twisters. We swam Dave over alright, put him in the motor car to Timber Creek and then me and those fellas had to take the boat back. As well as “alligators,” there were jelly fish in the water and I thought, “they won’t hurt me.” The other fellas were in front, I was swimming behind and I had no clothes on. One jelly fish floated past over a very tender spot of mine. I was straight up on those forty-fours and the whole boat collapsed! One drum went that way and those bloody fellas had a drum … I had nothing! I took off for the river bank … Marjorie Jackson couldn’t of caught me!”

Ted continued with school in Katherine ’til he was about 13 years. “A bloke from Cloncurry who used to mix it up with Dad came through. He had a place out of Fitzroy Crossing and I thought, “I can read and write, I’m right!”. I wanted to earn a bit of money and I begged Mum to go with him. It was the worst thing I ever done. In Katherine, he’d buy you all the lollies in the world. He was a different man on the run. When he got you out there, you couldn’t do anything right. You couldn’t explain to him; he reckoned you were too cheeky. I was on a little pony and he’s yelling, “Keep up, keep up!” and he’s on a big fast horse. He’d get wild with me and he’s into me with the whip, flogging me around the flat. If I’d see him coming I’d head for a leaning tree and he’d be trying to whip me from one side of the tree to the other! It was survival of the fittest.”

“At the end, we took a mob of 800 spayed cows from Go Go Station to Wyndham. I was 13½ and I was the horse tailer. When we got to Wyndham he wanted me to take the horses back to the station; 250 miles through wild country over the Pentecost Ranges. I was dead scared and I wouldn’t go. I was s’posed to be getting a pound a week and he wouldn’t pay me the money. Dave was in town so I borrowed £20 off him and hopped on a boat to Darwin. That fella, he hopped on a plane and followed me over. He ended up paying me what he owed me and wanted me to keep working for him. He promised me all sorts of things: I’d be a station owner, there’d be young girls waiting . . . he painted the biggest picture! I thought “I don’t care if there’s angels, I’m not goin’ back there!” That was the last time I saw him . . . never saw him again.”

Lucy Creek Station.