Photographs by Harry Whaite 1912 - 2011

 

 

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Reminiscences Of A Rucksack.

BY MILLIE HORNE.

(The Rucksack Club, Sydney, N.H.IV.)

from The Bushwalker 1940

The other articles in this book are about everything but ME. Now I'll endeavor to give you the inside (and outside) story of a pack's life.

Of my coming into being I know little ; it wasn't a hard trial, so that is all that mattered. For two or three days I sat on the floor of a certain shop along with several of my fellows. Then a woman came for me. I was overjoyed to be in the hands of the fair sex. Little did I know of what five feet nothing of woman was capable? She didn't seem proud of me then. She had me wrapped in paper for a start! I was parked under the tram seat; then, I've discovered since, she took me home via the darkest streets.

On arrival home, off came the paper and on her back I went. She turned this way and that before the mirror. My, was I all new and bright! A voice sounded in the doorway, "What's that damn thing?" "I've joined a bushwalking club, and this is a Rucksack in which I carry my gear," said she. "Tut, tut !" said the voice and went out mumbling.

The first day was exciting for both of us. I had a light load with plenty of space, so things slipped and banged in my inside. All eyes were on me, and everybody in the party looked in me and over me and mauled me and tried me on, and hoped I'd soon get dirty. It was a beautiful walk, but I felt sore with the bumping around inside ; but those cushiony hips and shoulders were more sore than I was. When we arrived home she looked in the mirror again. I didn't look much different, but SHE—heavens ! I didn't think she'd take me again.

MY FIRST WEEK-END.

Then came the first week-end. I didn't think I could live through what that woman did to me. Her gear consisted of complete house and furniture apart from food. Well, she waged a war on every part of me. Things were pushed here and there and, if something wouldn't go in, out came the whole lot and the pushing and cramming started all over again. My objections were waived till I thought I'd burst. At last she was ready, and it took all she knew to lift me.

The camp was beside a beautiful river, and when the tent was up the remainder of my inside was outside, and peace reigned till morning, when the horrors of packing started again. That day I was bumped and banged over rocks, through bushes and nettles, and then some bushfire stuff. One moment I was earth and sky, then east and west, north and west, and east and south, and neast and sorth, then—oh, what does it matter! My only revenge was to slither this way and that on those fleshy hips. After all that she put rubber pads on the shoulder straps, said she was going again—and she has!

In the three years of my experience I've suffered nobody knows what. There was the day she dropped me over a cliff and then found an easier way down for herself, so by the time she had lunch I'd broken her new mug and plate ! There is the uncertainty of never knowing when some fool will bring out a rope—to lower Rucksacks only. There are times innumerable when she slithers over rocks and down hills, and I just slither after. Now she has to get the holes in me covered with leather. Once when she fell down I sat on her head till somebody lifted me off! May be I have treated myself to a large dose of self-pity!

However, I've never yet had to carry myself up-hill, or wade through ice cold water. I saw one of my fellow creatures hurtle down into a creek with a body attached to it, and when they got it out water poured from its pockets. I've never been gnawed by a rat, nor had tomatoes, persimmons or bananas squashed inside of me! I have been used as a stepping-stone by a short-legged beauty in getting over a fence, and often as a pillow. Of course, she didn't take me away every week-end like some do, although I did get some fairly rough times on one-day trips.

So now my growls must end, and I should be thankful for the few blessings which have been mine. But, I'll let you in on something. Judging by the puffing, panting and creaking of a certain She, I can safely settle down to a fair amount of ease in my advanced age, even if she does do one or two "tough ones," as she calls them.