Monday, 12 October 2015

Arthur Gardiner - Soldier, bushman and good "sport"

I found this interesting article in the Dandenong Advertiser of March 15, 1917. It's interesting because it talks about a few different local towns and areas and because it harks back to the time when this area was all rural and people had to live off the land to survive and when the hunting of native animals was accepted. It also reflects the importance of the British Empire - when bushman like Arthur would join up to fight for the Empire in South Africa - which naturally reflected the time this article was written when other men were also fighting for the Empire - this time in the Great War. So here is the story of Arthur Gardiner - soldier, bushman and good 'sport'. I have transcribed the article, with original spelling. 

Dandenong Advertiser March 15, 1917


The above is a reproduction of a photo of Mr Arthur Gardiner, of Main Street, Pakenham, where he has a thriving butchering business. In his younger days he was in business in the wilds of Gembrook, long before the "iron horse" traversed the beautiful scenery between Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook terminus (and some of the finest scenery in Australia  is to be found in this popular health resort, which is now studded with cosey bungalows and week-end homes) As a "full private" Arthur went right through the Boer War and you can bet your life he played the Boers' game  in getting through rough country, his youthful experience in the Woori Yallock, Upper Yarra, Beenak and Tonimbuk country standing him in good stead. In the "gold old days" when protection was not in vogue, kangaroo. wallaby, wombat and other vermin paid tribute to his skill and mountain lakes and streams contributed to the results of his duck gun and fishing rod, the latter consisting of  a tea -tree stick and  a line  without a floater and an old nut bolt as a sinker. Only quite recently he took a party of four into the wilds of some "wayback  country" and he had to cut a trail half-a mile in length through briars, thistles, stinging nettles, tangled vines and tiger snakes to get to the little rivulet which could be jumped across and they bagged 1 1/2 cwt of blackfish,  ranging from 1lb to 3lbs and 4lbs each . Dingoes, wallabies, wombats and black cockatoo were to be seen in plenty and some of the dingoes gave their last dismal howl.  The photo depicts 'Little Arthur" (he is 6ft long) -  the soldier hunter after  a day when permission was given to hunt deer in the Kooweerup Swamp, where their depredations had ruined many crops. His faithful dogs, Spot and Brindle, are at his feet and the trusty rifle in held in his right hand. The trophy shows one of the finest buck's heads in Victoria and is on view at Mr Gardiner's shop. It is valued at 15 guineas. We are indebted to Mr Rushton, photographer, Pakenham, for the original photo from which this plate is taken.



This is the photograph which accompanied the article. It's  a very poor copy, sorry.

What else do we know about Arthur? His full name was Arthur Joseph Gardiner. The National Archives of Australia has his enlistment paper (part of Series B4418) His Regimental number was 478 and he was part of the Second Australian Commonwealth Horse (Vic) Unit. He enlisted on January 7, 1902 and he was 22 years of age and a Surveyor's Assistant. He was born in Berwick.  His next of kin was his father - James Gardiner of Berwick. He was listed as being 5 feet, 8 inches tall - a few inches less that the 6 feet which was said to be his height in the article. Perhaps his work as a Surveyor's Assistant helped him playing the Boers' game  in getting through rough country. 



Arthur's enlistment paper from the National Archives of Australia.


However it appears that he had enlisted, around April 1900, previously in Tasmania as a Trooper (Regimental Number 55)in the Tasmanian Contingent. If you are interested in Boer War soldiers then the Australians in the Boer War website is a good source of information - this is the website http://members.pcug.org.au/~croe/ozb/oz_boer0.htm

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