It’s Different in the Outback

I recently came across the word “Outbackistan”. It was on the ABC’s Conversation Hour, in which Richard Fidler interviewed Gav Dear, songwriter and frontman for “The Roadtrippers”. “Outbackistan” is the title of their most recent album. The album is described as “a remote far-out Australian outback mix of country folk and tumbling rock’n’roll written and played by genuine black and white dwellers of the northern reaches of Outbackistan.”

The term “Outbackistan” was coined to make the point that the Australian Outback is in some ways like a country in its own right, just as different and even mysterious as some of the Central Asian “Stans” like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The rather amazing Gav Dear interview can be heard at:

Talking to an Outback farmer a week ago brought to light an example of just how different life in the Outback can be. This chap had had some medical tests which brought to light PSA levels in his blood which would normally be regarded as a sign of prostate cancer. There was plenty of work waiting to be done on the farm, and the treatment options offered by the doctor sounded uncomfortable, time-consuming and expensive – and even then without any guarantee of success.

A fellow Outback farmer suggested there was a much easier approach, and he wouldn’t even have to make the 240 kilometre round-trip drive into town to buy the medicine – he’d have it right there in the shed. And sure enough he did:

Bruce medicine.jpg

He didn’t take much, he assured me – just a few drops – but it seemed to do the job, and his PSA levels are now back to normal.

The product he took is normally used for “drenching” sheep and cattle, which means forcibly administering it to deal with internal parasites of various kinds. The container is clearly marked: “DANGEROUS POISON    Not to be taken     For animal treatment only    TOXIC”.

Things are different in Outbackistan.



About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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4 Responses to It’s Different in the Outback

  1. Lavinia Ross says:

    Always a thought provoking post on your site, Rob! Our soils over here tend to be deficient in selenium, a micronutrient, and livestock are supplemented with it. From what I remember from chemistry, it is similar in size and chemical reactivity to sulfur. There is even a good scholarly article on selenium and various cancers in humans. Your Outbackistan farmers are on to something!

    • dazzlerplus says:

      Very interesting, Lavinia!! However, I won’t start having a few drops of cattle drench in my morning coffee. I should have mentioned in the post that people should not regard any of the information in this blog as medical advice, nor should the male readers try self-medicating on cattle drench without getting a doctor’s advice first. But then I must admit I’ve never heard of a bull having prostate cancer.

  2. Way back when, I think they were called the ‘mid nineties,’ my mate and I were extracting and promoting a seaweed soil improver extract.

    Cretinism in infants was occurring in Gippsland, back in the mid 18 hundreds, and it was put down to deficiency in soil Selenium. Fortunately, there is sufficient selenium in seaweed to fix that deficiency. Low Selenium is also associated with male infertility and might play a role in Kashin-Beck disease, a type of osteoarthritis that occurs in certain low-selenium areas of China, Tibet, and Siberia. Selenium deficiency could exacerbate iodine deficiency, potentially increasing the risk of cretinism in infants. (apologies for not referencing but you will find them easily on the web).

    We do not need a deal of trace elements: we benefit from a diverse diet.

    Best wishes


    • dazzlerplus says:

      Well, I’m learning from what I thought was a crazy thing to do! Obviously the animals that get a dose from the drench gun receive a deal more selenium that my friend gave himself, and it’s beneficial for them. (But maybe the occasional animal gets a fatal dose by mistake.)

      It just occurs to me that we have here at our place a plastic flask of garden fertiliser made from seaweed, which seems to do wonders for the plants (and it doesn’t even say “POISON” on the label). Maybe I should have a few drops on my cornflakes occasionally. What do you say, Dr Richard?

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