WORRALS DOWN UNDER
by W. E. Johns (NB – Not credited as Captain)
First printed October 1948
“To Captain Duncan MacNiven, to whom I am indebted for many of the details of the events narrated in the following pages, this story is respectfully dedicated. W.E.J.”
1. A CHANCE ENCOUNTER (Pages 7 – 23)
Worrals and Frecks are in Sydney, Australia, looking around the Empire to see what it offers in terms of running their own airline. They see an old wartime flight officer colleague called Janet Marlow, who won the George Cross for keeping the station phones going one night when Hendon was blitzed. Noticing how thin she looks they take her for a cup of tea and a meal and she tells them why she is in Australia. Janet’s Aunt Mary had a remote farm in Australia at a place called Wallabulla and in 1944 she sent Janet a black opal, with a letter saying that “she had struck it rich from the grass down”. When the war was over Janet came out. Wallabulla is a remote place 90 miles from the next nearest white woman. Aunt Mary lived there with her husband, John Carter, until he died, and a “blackfellow named Charlie, their only remaining servant”. When Janet went out to Wallabulla, she found the wooden shack that had been Aunt Mary’s home and two graves: One old and one fresh. Clearly one was John Carter’s and the other must have been Aunt Mary’s, where Charlie must have buried her before leaving. Janet stayed there three nights before leaving because it was such a frightful place. Not only was it in the middle of nowhere, but the noises at night, presumably caused by Dingoes – wild dogs – were terrifying. Aunt Mary had said in her letters that she would leave her farm to Janet and had named a lawyer in Adelaide, who Janet went to see. Explaining her findings and producing evidence of identity, he gave her the relevant ownership documents. But with no money and no work, Janet was on her way to pawn her only black opal to get money to eat. Worrals makes her a business proposition. “We’ll finance the expedition and help you to find the stuff. If we strike lucky we split the profits three ways – that is, between you, Frecks, and me?” says Worrals. Janet agrees. Worrals says they will see about buying an aircraft and fly to Wallabulla.