Fitzherbert Hobson (yet another of the Dregs of History)

Fitzherbert Hobson (1829 – 1861)

Fitzherbert Hobson was a bit of chancer, well alright, he was a petty thief and thug. I was only trying to be nice.

He came to Australia by choice after managing to evade capture for his numerous brushes with the law. These usually involved the consumption of the demon drink followed by some unwise words that almost invariably led to fights with his fellow drinkers. He chose Melbourne as his new home. But after a while, and some unsuccessful attempts at getting gainful employment (usually because he stole from or assaulted somebody in the workplace), he found himself without money of lodgings. Things were getting serious. He handled this by once more finding some drink and thumping somebody, this time a policeman. He soon found some lodgings, although they weren’t to his taste – the iron bars rather spoiled the view.

One night he managed to escape from prison after assaulting the guards, and went on the run. For some weeks he spent his time stealing food and sleeping rough in the bush, but he knew that this was not going to last forever. Desperate to avoid capture, he joined up with an expedition to travel from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was to be led by one William O’Hara Burke, a man with dubious bush skills and knowledge. Hobson had some misgivings, but he thought he’d tag along for a while until they reached another town. He didn’t realise that their destination was some 2000 miles away through desert. He was, also like many immigrants, unaware of the true scale of Australia.

He left with the expedition on 20 August 1860 and that was the last he saw of Melbourne. Despite his dislike of camels, and propensity to keep asking for alcoholic drinks, of which there were few, he buckled down and for the first time in his life was a useful member of society. As the expedition stumbled on to its conclusion, he finally became disenchanted with its leaders, and started writing uncomplimentary entries in his journal. He was particularly upset that there was nothing left to steal and no booze.

It is a little known fact that Hobson was with Burke, Wills, and King, and was also left at Coopers Creek after the rest of the party had departed some nine hours before they arrived back from the Gulf. Unlike King, he did not survive, instead choosing to wander off to take his chances on his own. His body was never found, but his journal was. His last entry, dated Another fucking hot day in the furnace 1861 was a poem to his expedition leaders.

Ode to Burke and Wills

I hate this sunstruck country
This land of bone-dry plains
Where all the leaves are faded green
And it never fucking rains

I joined this screwed up escapade
‘Cos I was starved and stony broke
But bloody Burke and thickie Wills
Were leading us, well that’s a joke.

As we walked for miles through barren ground
I realised my mistake
This pair of tools from Melbourne
Were as mad as two cut snakes.

And then it finally hit me
I couldn’t take it anymore
And that my brain had now been fried
By those fucking clueless bores.

I left them by their favourite tree
And told King it had been fun
But ‘cos of those two fuckwits
I was desiccating in the sun.

So now I sit here dying
Somewhere out the back of Bourke
‘Cos of thickie and his sidekick
And just ‘cos I needed work.

 

This is an extract from The Complete Dregs of History Which is available here

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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