Tag Archives: Australia

Working Class Boy, by Jimmy Barnes

Sydney, N.S.W., HarperCollins Publishers Australia,, 2016.

362 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates

This book was released before Working Class Man and it would have been helpful to read it first.

It covers Jimmy’s early years beginning in Glasgow, Scotland and then moving to Australia. Life was difficult in both places but at least the weather was nice and warm in Australia.

His father was a well known boxer and both parents were accomplished ball room dancers. The father was an alcoholic and often he came home on payday with all funds spent on booze leaving nothing for food and other necessities for the young family.

Once Jimmy Barnes’ decided to move on it was uplifting to read how Reg Barnes made a significant difference to the family when he joined the family. He was the stable father figure that the family needed. Reg introduced music to the family with a piano and family singing sessions.

Overall it was a tough life for immigrants in the outer Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth. There was constant trouble and fighting, making it very similar to the problems caused and faced by the South Sudanese in Melbourne and possibly Australia today. It shows that settling immigrants has never been easy no matter where they come from.

The book ends with the beginnings of Jimmy’s music career covering a few gigs at the local venue in Elizabeth.


Working Class Boy is a good introduction to Jimmy’s life and to the next book Working Class Man. The second book is the better of the two I think, as amongst other things it covers the very colourful era of Australian rock in the 70’s.

Working Class Man, by Jimmy Barnes

  1. Working Class Man, by Jimmy Barnes


Published 2017. 490 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates

An interesting and uplifting read from Jimmy Barnes. It’s a sequel to “Working Class Boy” but you don’t need to have read it to appreciate “Working Class Man”, although some knowledge of Jimmy’s early background would be useful.

It’s a fascinating read into the Australian rock and pub band scene from the 70’s and beyond. Interwoven are many famous names of Australian music which shows how much musicians network throughout their careers.

You can feel Jimmy’s pain as he struggles with drugs, alcohol, family pressure and the gruelling touring. At the end there is Jimmy’s recovery with the help of his ever supporting family, his friends and his dogs.

“Working Class Man” is a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes of being famous, with a happy ending. A great read and excellent book. Highly recommended.


Who Killed Jim Barclay?, by Wallace Mortimer

Who Killed Jim Barclay?

Book by Wallace Mortimer

Published 2009, 124 p., [32] p. of illustrations.

Who Killed Jim Barclay, by Wallis Mortimer.
Who Killed Jim Barclay, by Wallis Mortimer.

This book is about the murders of Jim Barclay and John Bamford in late 1917 at Wonnangatta Station located about 65km south of Myrtleford in Victoria. It’s reasonably well written but the writing quality is not up to main stream standard; plus I found a few grammar errors. Having a professional writer, like Gary Smith of Clever Words, go over the text would have made the book a lot better.

Local History

There is a lot of local history gone over, some of it relevant and some that’s more interesting to know than relevant. For example the author mentions Ian Stapleton who was one of the founders of Geelong Grammar’s famous Timbertop campus. He relied on his helpful neighbour John (aka Jack) Klingsporn to help especially when the when the camp had problems. Jack Klingsporn has a tenuous link to the murders.

The Theories

Forensic techniques were very limited around 1917 and there is very little hard evidence to solve the crime convincingly. All of the theories come from sources who heard it from the alleged murderer and some who had a grudge.

Each of the theories are discussed in detail in the book.

Jealous Husband

One theory is that Jim Barclay was allegedly having an affair with Annie Klingsporn. Her husband, Robert, and his brother killed Jim for revenge.

The author dismisses this as there is no evidence the affair happened. In addition, both parties lived some distance apart and with no means of communication back then (probably still true now in the remote bush-land) a relationship would have been impossible.

Annie was also a busy householder helping to look after a farm in the early 1900’s with no time for anything else. It’s likely the hurtful theory was spread by Alex Trahair who detested Annie Klingsporn for some reason.

Evil Poet

With no evidence at all Percy Weston accused Billy Wye (a bush poet) and his accomplices of the murders to cover up their nefarious activity of cattle rustling. Percy saw Billy as a “never do gooder” and a trouble maker. Being an excellent poet I think it’s unlikely Billy is the murderer as he does not fit the typical criminal profile.

The Cattle Rustlers

This theory I think is the most likely solution to the crime. This again came second hand from the alleged murderer who told Frank Harrington about his exploits.

James Beveridge being eight years junior to this brother John (aka Jack) Beveridge, always lived under his shadow. It was his suppressed upbringing that made it impossible for him to be able to confide in adults, only children. An old James told the very young Frank Harrington what happened.

James hated the prospect of possibly being conscripted into the army to fight in World War I and he escaped to the bush for many months. During this time he learnt that Jim Barclay was running Wonnangatta Station on his own and he saw an opportunity to steal cattle, a practice he was already familiar with. The brands used all had the same initials, JB for Jim Barclay’s cattle and JB for James’ brother John/Jack Beveridge. If he was caught James could easily pass them off as his brother’s cattle.

But James was scared of being caught and killed Barclay, and then John Bamford to remove any witnesses to the crime.

Both the Beveridges became very rich with their wrongfully gained riches and bought many properties in the area. But both died unhappy and unloved. No one turned up, even his wife, to mourn the passing of James Beveridge.

I think James and possibly his brother John too, are the most likely murderers. James has a track history of disobeying the law and had no qualms about stealing cattle, in fact he thought he deserved the cattle more because he cared more for them than the absentee land owners. John was an over bearing and probably violent brother. The amount of property they owned and wealth they possessed was never questioned and it’s clear evidence that they both must’ve been up to something big that was illegal.


Who Killed Jim Barclay? is a fascinating read into Australian and Victorian bush history. We will never know who really killed Barclay and Bamford; and the case will always be an interesting subject for passionate discussion. This book is a good source for those who want know the background and some of the theories out there. Each one is discussed in detail and well analysed.

Learn more about the murders on the Harry’s Hut website.



The Life and Death of the Australian Backyard, by Anthony Clive Hall

The Life and Death of the Australian Backyard, by Anthony Clive Hall. Front cover.

The Life and Death of the Australian Backyard
Hall, Anthony Clive
Book – 2010 (from the YPRL)

This is a detailed study of the loss of the Australian backyard. Probably a bit too detailed for most readers you can skip over the parts of least interest.

One thing I noted was that even though the UK has a higher dwellings to hectare ratio than Australia, thanks to no front setback and a small building foot print the backyards are larger.

Perhaps it’s the way Australia should go to keep all of the benefits of having a backyard.

Backyard Benefits

The author points out that there is a lot to lose when backyards are too small or non-existent:

  • Less trees means less heat absorption
  • Children have nowhere to exercise
  • No where to relax in your own space
  • Little or no space for a vegetable or flower garden
  • Loss of biological diversity (through smaller gardens)

I think we have forgotten the benefits of a backyard over having a huge indoor living space.

The Big Book of Australian History

The Big Book of Australian History
Macinnis, Peter
Book – 2015

This book got off to bad start with the modern and Cretaceous periods the same map which is incorrect.

It’s a good overall history of Australia but not much detail. There are no diagrams illustrating concepts from the text. It does feature great quality images and drawings from the periods being discussed.

The book has a distinct “political correctness” tone; maybe a future trend I guess.