Saturday, April 16, 2016

A-Z Blog Challenge: N is for the Never-Never

If you aren't an Australian - and even more an Australian of my generation - you have probably not heard of the Never-Never unless you have seen Baz Luhrmann's movie Australia. Let me enlighten you.

The Never-Never is a term that was applied to the vast and remote outback of Australia, as far as we know, back as far as the latter part of the nineteenth century. It featured in We of the Never-Never, the fictionalised account of the experiences of Mrs Aeneas (Jeannie) Gunn while living on Elsey Station in the early 1900s. It included outback Queensland, the Northern Territory and large areas of Western Australia. Opened up and settled by pastoralists and sometimes with a later influx gold seekers (who left when the gold petered out - Kalgoorlie is an exception and is still a major gold producing area) the Never-Never was seen by those who didn't live there as a harsh, brutal land where people died.

Nowadays the Never-Never is better known as the outback and sometimes you'll hear an older person call it back of beyond or back o' Bourke. The now collapsed iron ore mining boom along with the growth in tourism means that the outback is no longer quite the mystery it once was, although with a large swathe of the interior desert that can't even be used by pastoralists, it's never going to be somewhere that is heavily populated.

The people of the outback still have to be tough to be able to survive but they know they live somewhere special and, increasingly they are sharing stunning natural wonders like Uluru and the Bungle Bungles and pastoralists are opening up their properties so people can stay and experience their world as they cater for visitors from all over the world. If you have a bucket list of places to see I'd recommend adding the Australian outback to it. It's worth it.


Jo said...

Interesting that it was called the Never Never. To me that is buying something on hire purchase as it used to be called, frequently described as buying something on the never never (i.e. never paid up). Doubt I'll ever make it to Oz now, but sounds a wonderful place to visit.

Helen V. said...

We talk about putting things on the never-never, too, Jo, - and we do have some spectacular scenery here.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

We Brits use "back of beyond" for anywhere remote. I don't know if Peter Pan's Never Never Land owes its roots to Australia. Australia is definitely on my bucket list. I hadn't really thought about the Never-Never outback before but I have now!
That's Purrfect
Around My Kitchen Table

Jo said...

Thanks Patricia, I knew there was another use of Never Never but just couldn't bring it to mind. I doubt J.M. Barrie knew about the Australian use of the phrase, somehow. What do you think Helen?

Helen V. said...

Thanks for coming by, Around My Kitchen Table - or should that be Patricia?

Jo, I think the Australian usage started around 1870, so Barrie might have heard of it but I don't know that he had any Australian connection and it wasn't in widespread use until Jeannie Gunn's book came out in 1905.