Anywhere and Nowhere – A Potteries Man 'Downunder

Anywhere and Nowhere – A Potteries Man 'Downunder

Exiled Valiant Barry Edge lives in Perth Western Australia and is a regular columnist for onevalefan. His latest article beggers belief. But he assures us it is true.

Anywhere and Nowhere – A Potteries Man ‘Downunder
It is not unusual to hear of men and women heading for outback Australia to find solace away from whatever it is that grieves them. Or simply to travel the highways and byways with a swag on their back looking for piecemeal jobs for tucker, tobacco and a few dollars for a drink. Their needs are few. But their want is mainly to be alone.

Their swags are usually rolled-up blankets, a billycan and a change of clothes. The tucker they eat can be anything snared from fish to kangaroos, or meals earned for jobs done on cattle runs and other outback properties. Sometimes they will take clothing and footwear in lieu of food knowing full well they can survive off the land.

Back in the early 1960s I worked alongside a Scotsman who drove the ‘munitions’ truck for the Hill 50 Gold Mine – munitions as in detonators and other blasting materials. Jock and his good lady lived on a ‘show’ about 10 miles out of town. However, his ‘show’ was nothing more than a hole in the ground big enough for a car to fit. But there was gold below and he and his wife spent all their waking hours’ working out its small winnings. And that’s all they were, small winnings – enough to buy ‘food, baccy and booze’.

Jock was only ever seen at work and he and his good lady did their weekly shopping in Mt Magnet once a week each and every Wednesday without fail. For the rest of the time we would say ‘they’re out there’. Still, Jock and his wife paid their taxes, registered their car, renewed yearly their lease on their ‘show’, had a savings account with the local ‘Bank and were on the electoral roll. And, if needed, they would visit the doctor and/or hospital. They may have been loners’. But they could be found.

This story is repeated a thousand times and more in this big land of ours.

In stark contrast to the above is a story that still defies explanation. In fact we will never, ever know the how, what, when and why of a Potteries man ‘Downunder who was not known – officially that is.

What we can say is that the late Mr Jonas Mason left Stoke-on-Trent approximately fifty years ago. But whether it was to immigrate to Oz remains a mystery. Nor can we say on what date and in which port he first stepped foot on Australian soil. And it’s quite possible we would never have known what little we do but for his brother taking a trip ‘Downunder in search of his long lost sibling – a search that took place in 1994/5 and was to last seven weeks before the two brothers were reunited.

In fact Jake Mason was just about to pack his suitcase and head for home when the lucky break came. Following a last gasp plea for help via a local television network Jonas Mason was found hermit style in some chalk caves near the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia. A local lady had ‘phoned the television network to say she thought the man they were looking for was the same one she sometimes gave food and clean laundry.

You see, what makes this story so amazing is that there are no known official records of a Jonas Mason ever immigrating to Oz. Further, no claims had been made by him for commonwealth financial assistance such as unemployment benefit or other pensions. In addition, he had never applied for a driver’s permit or opened a bank account. Nor were there any known records held by doctors’ or medical institutions. Jonas Mason was not even on the electoral role.

That’s right, Jonas Mason had lived forty years in Oz and absolutely nothing was officially known about him. Even Jake Mason had been gambling on finding his brother in Western Australia, rather than on the eastern seaboard.

The story goes that Jonas Mason had met all his needs in two ways. Firstly, by learning the ways of the traditional Aborigines and living off ‘bush tucker’ – another way of saying kangaroos, emus and other edible fauna and flora. And secondly, that down the years he had worked variously throughout Western Australia for his bed, food and clothing. He further claimed that he never had a need to carry money on his person.

And in keeping with his previous lifestyle of being anywhere and nowhere this Potteries man ‘Downunder refused to appear on television.

As I understand it, Jake Mason returned to Stoke-on-Trent with the clear intention to come back to Oz and repatriate Jonas to the ‘Old Dart. Sadly though, not long after Jake had returned home his long lost brother passed away in a land that did not know him – officially at least.

See you later…

Barry Edge
Western Australia
August 20, 2004

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