A Rider of the Sixties
‘A Rider of the Sixties’ is based on a true story. In the 1860s the Rider, “Lynn Desmond”, is visiting his fiance, “Jean Sutherland”. She lives at the remote “‘Barindah'” Station in Victoria’s high country. It’s close to the border line with New South Wales, and near the “Wangong” River.
Jean’s cousin, Gerald Carr, is concussed when the rides into an overhanding bough in the darkness. But he’s overdrawn at the Bank in Burrawa—many miles and three days’ ride away. He needs to get 400 pounds to it within a couple of days or he’ll go too jail and lose his reputation. Lynn does a huge favour for Gerald, making two epic rides in record times across some of Australia’s roughest country.
Here’s a key to the true identities in this story:
Story Names Real Names
Lynn Desmond Eyre Lewis Bruce (Mary’s father)
Jean Sutherland Mary Atkinson Whittakers (Mary’s mother)
William Sutherland William Whittakers (Mary’s grandfather)
Gerald Carr Unknown
‘Barindah’ Station ‘Tubbutt’ Station, north-east Gippsland, Victoria
Mount Misery Mount Turnback
Wangong River Snowy River
The story has lots of bush lore and Australian idiom. Its description of how an Irishman, most probably with little or no swimming ability, and his horse crossed the Snowy River in full flood stands as one of the great narrative pieces of Australian literature.
More about Mary’s family and their farming properties can be found in The Whittakers Story.
First Published in: January 1904 as A New Year’s Dawn, a serial
First Publication: The Leader
Place First Published: Melbourne
Second Published in: November 1937 as A Rider of the Sixties
Second Publication: Blackwood’s Magazine
Place Second Published: Edinburgh
A Rider of the Sixties was republished in 1986 in The Peculiar Honeymoon and other writings.
The Trustee of The Mary Grant Bruce Family Trust owns the extant copyrights to A Rider of the Sixties and A New Year’s Dawn.