Hullo Australia!

Posted: February 24, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

I had a great time at the Barrage yesterday, it is a very pretty place. It is situated just on the Delta of the Nile, and is a series of big dams across the five different streams and canals. There are some really fine bridges there, over half a mile long a couple of them are. They were built by Mahomet Ali, somewhere around 1880. The idea, I found out, is to keep the Nile at an even level all the year round. The bridges or dams are fine pieces of architecture. There are sluice gates all the way across, and on every bridge are several battlement-ed towers that look very fine. On the islands, or land in the Delta are beautiful gardens and lawns laid out. There is a museum of models there too. It shows working models of all the locks and dams, as far as Assuit, 200 miles above Cairo. I took a donkey and rode over the whole place. It took me two hours. The shipping moves from one side of the bridge to the other by means of locks.

After I got back to town I purchased a few necessities, and spent just about all my money. I got a few trinkets in the Turkish bazaar, which I am sending to you. I couldn’t get any article of value on account of the shortage of the currency.

I had dinner at the Y.M.C.A., and had a very good meal. It was cheap too, only 8 paistres. If you want a good meal you have to pay anything up to four shillings. I finished the day by arriving home too late to read this week’s mail. I got two letters from Father, one from Mother and a nice long one from Mollie written from Hazelton, two from friends, and two papers. It was hard having to go to bed without being able to read them I can tell you.

Today we have been having an easy time. We had to hand in the blankets issued to us on the boat. I suppose they consider that we do not need them now, as it is getting very hot. We had to air the remainder of our blankets, and strike our tents, then several medical examinations. I have been passed as exempt from vaccination now.

Have I told you about the boot cleaning shops? You walk into a saloon like a hair-dressers and sit down, and let the menials get busy on your boots. I had mine cleaned yesterday, and you wouldn’t recognise our dirty old barges. The man put seven coats of polish etc. They get a marvellous polish on leather, I could see to curl my moustache in them yesterday. I tell you I was growing another?  A much better specimen than the last. A stranger described me as a tall cove with a fair moustache, the other night, although my friends won’t recognise it as one. Refer to it very sarcastically in fact.

The Egyptian winter is like our Autumn, the rainfall is only one inch per annum. It is rumoured that we are leaving shortly. The 9th and 10th have been told that they are leaving on Saturday, as an advance guard, but it is hard to tell. We have no idea where we are going. If we do move it will be very welcome. I received the sox alright thank you, and could do with some more too if there are any knocking about.

The beetles are the famous “scarab beetles” sacred to the Egyptians. There are dozens of them in the sand – big black ones. Tell Miss Drew that her scarf has been of infinite value to me, wouldn’t have been without it for worlds. You don’t want to take too much notice of newspaper reports, re. Behaviour. I have seen several of them and think they are gross exaggerations. There has certainly been a lot of trouble, but when you consider that there are, I should say roughly, from 50 to 100,000 troops in Cairo, and they are not all Australians, the percentage of rotters is very low.

I think we are all splendidly trained, both in drill and physically. I had my hair cut yesterday, the best cut since I left Adelaide, had it done at a place run by a man named Richichi pronounced “Ri-sish-y”. I noticed in the glass the difference in colour of the skin on my forehead, and on my cheek. We are a lean-faced, tanned, wiry looking lot. We don’t notice it much, but we must be nearly black. I noticed that my arms are absolutely brown, and my hands are black. The natives think we are all very wealthy. They say “Hullo Australia”! Australia very nice, very good, give it baksheesh, give it half paistre – Australia plenty of money”. I haven’t received the book of Longfellow yet, but it will come in a day or so, no doubt. You would enjoy a donkey ride, sometimes you have stirrups, sometimes not. The donkeys are so small that you nearly knock them over. You can’t steer them, they go full tilt down a crowded street, around a cart, over a nigger, nearly under a train. It is a ride of shocks.


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ColoniesMap1914 19141208

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