sounds more like it. Or does it? Surprisingly, no quotations are given in
any of the above dictionaries that are dated earlier than 1898 — The
Bulletin (OED2), W. H. Ogilvie Fair Girls and Gray Horses
let’s have a look at some other dates, then. The Melbourne department
store of Buckley and Nunn first opened its doors in 1851, and in its
heyday was a store with as fine a reputation as David Jones (1838) or
Farmers (1840) in Sydney.
especially popular with women of style. In 1914, for example, elegant
frocks were the main feature of its mail order catalogue, and in 1939 it
was happy to display chic female nightwear in its shop window. As early as
1912 it had been the acceptable cause of much congestion in Bourke Street
outside its doors, as photos of the day show, and by the 1920s the Buckley
and Nunn tastefully appointed tea room was one of the most fashionable
meeting places for Melbourne ladies.
was thus a household phrase, and could well have served as the source of
the Buckley’s and none pun. But only provided that William
Buckley’s story had captured the public imagination already.
after 14 years of progress with its colony in New South Wales (Sydney,
Parramatta, Toongabbie, Windsor, Newcastle), the British Government had
resolved to set up a new penal settlement in Bass Strait at Port Phillip
Bay (the current site of Melbourne), and Lt-Col. David Collins was placed
300 convicts was William Buckley (1780-1856), who had been transported for
receiving a bolt of cloth knowing it to be stolen. On Christmas Day, 1803,
he and two others escaped. Soon they were starving and Buckley's
companions decided to return to the settlement, but were never heard of
later, Collins, having already concluded that the site was unsuitable,
departed with his prisoners to establish a settlement (now Hobart) in Van
in the meantime, had managed to survive by living off the land, and was
soon made welcome by the Wathaurong-speaking Koories, whose country is
around present-day Geelong.
because of his pale skin colour and his height (he was nearly two metres
tall), they regarded him as a reincarnated man of authority, a position
that afforded him rights and also responsibilities. In the 32 years he
spent with these people, he was taught their language and acquired an
intimate, detailed knowledge of their ritual and customs. The tribe also
gave him a wife.
1835 Buckley surrendered to a survey party led by J. H. Wedge, in order to
prevent some Aborigines from robbing a visiting ship and murdering the
crew. By now Buckley had almost forgotten how to speak English and could
only be identified by his initials tattooed on his arm.
thought Buckley would make a useful interpreter between the local
Aborigines and Europeans, and managed to obtain a pardon for him.
interpreter, Buckley was no great success, but in the years to come he
would grow to be famous as a guide for white settlers who wished to see
the wonderful scenery along the Barwon River, particularly the Falls that
now bear his name. Buckley's account of his time among the Wathaurong was
published in 1852, and is an important source of information about the
Aboriginal people in the region south-west of Melbourne.
way was the legend of Australia’s first wild white man born — a man whose
chance of survival in the bush had indeed been “forlorn” and “slim”, but
who beat the odds dramatically, and maybe even gave his name, not only to
a waterfall, but more significantly for Australian sceptics and word
lovers alike to the very idea of having all probabilities stacked against
for one am happy to accept both of Wilkes’ conjectures.