Bogan Gate: Australian history merges in unique moment!
Town sign welcoming all to Bogan Gate. Photograph taken by ksuyin and found on Flickriver
The Boer War. Bush poetry. The sport of polo. All three have links to Australian history. All three also merge together uniquely in one point of time in the country town of Bogan Gate. The town’s name that often reduces outsiders to fits of giggles – the meaning of the name is quite the opposite of what most people think – featured the first “unofficial” international game of polo between Australia and Great Britain. This historical event came about due to the persuasive charm of Harry “Breaker” Morant and Scottish-Australian poet Will Ogilvie. The game itself has been immortalised by Will Ogilvie’s poem For The Honor of Old England and The Glory of the Game.
Bogan Gate is mentioned as one of the towns in award-winning writer Bill “Swampy” Marsh’s collection of yarns Outback Towns and Pubs. A more detailed history of Bogan Gate and the people who lived there can be found in Gateway To The Bogan (1973) and its sequel Gateway To The Bogan Book 2 (1997). Gateway To The Bogan, which was compiled and edited by C.R. Judson, explains the meaning behind the name:
The word “Bogan” means the birthplace of a notable headsman of an Aboriginal tribe and the members of such a tribe were known to have had their camping grounds in close proximity to the Bogan River.
The “Gate” section of the township’s name was derived from a gate on the boundary fence between Burrawang and Gunningbland Stations, which gave access to the stock routes to the Bogan country, which lies further to the north. For convenience sake it was known on Burrawang as the “Bogan Gate”. This gate was known far and wide by overland drovers and has been mentioned in books on this subject.
The polo match is described in detail within Joe West & Roger Roper’s book Breaker Morant The Final Roundup: Horseman Bush Balladeer War Criminal (2016):
In late 1896, [Morant] and Will Ogilvie cleared an open space at Bogan Gate near Parkes, NSW, and created a polo pitch. The Breaker had taught Will and a few others to play polo and the ground adjacent to the Bogan Gate Hotel (officially the Selectors Arms) became the scene of the first unofficial polo international between Great Britain and Australia. This was sponsored by Victor Foy whose family ran a large Sydney Department store and he put up a liberal purse for the winners in the pub. The captains were Foy and Morant and the match was seriously contested with Great Britain ending up the winners. Ogilvie wrote a piece for The Windsor and Richmond Gazette published in 6 February 1897 that described how ‘The Breaker bathed in gore went sailing through the scrimmages more fiercely than before.’ Banjo Paterson wrote a poem entitled The Geebung Polo Club that undoubtedly describes the same event.
NOTE: Several authors – such as those listed above and John Meredith – have stated that Banjo Paterson’s poem The Geebung Polo Club were inspired by this famous polo match. However Paterson’s poem was first published in 1893 in The Antipodean and later included in Paterson’s first anthology of bush poetry The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses in 1895. Both dates are before this match took place.
Will Ogilvie, writing under the pseudonym Glenrowan, records the historic polo match in his poem “For The Honor of Old England And The Glory of the Game” (A Viracious History of International Polo). The poem originally appeared in The Windsor and Richmond Gazette and has been reproduced from Australian poetry site Krackatinni
Famous poet Will Ogilvie captured the emotion of the first international polo match between Great Britain and Australia – which was played at Bogan Gate. Source: Windsor and Richmond Gazette Saturday 6 February 1897 page 9 To view the article in its entirety click here
The following book contains details of Breaker Morant and the polo international at Bogan Gate. Breaker Morant The Final Roundup: Horseman, Bush Balladeer, War Criminal by Joe West and Roger Roper ISBN 9781445659657 Published: Amberley 15 Dec 2016. https://www.amberley-books.com/breaker-morant.html
The following resources are available at Parkes Library:
Bill ‘Swampy’ Marsh’s book Outback Towns and Pubs mentions Bogan Gate and the polo match between Great Britain and Australia. This book can be found in both Non-Fiction and Family & Local History resource room. Photograph: Dan Fredericks (Parkes Library) taken on Friday 3rd March 2017
Gateway to the Bogan details the fascinating history of Bogan Gate. This book can be found in the Family & Local History resource room. Photograph: Dan Fredericks (Parkes Library) taken on Friday 3rd March 2017
Gateway to the Bogan Book 2 continues to tell the fascinating history of Bogan Gate. This book can be found in the Family & Local History resource room. Photograph: Dan Fredericks (Parkes Library) taken on Friday 3rd March 2017
Bogan Gate once was a popular place thanks to the Army Base camp. Throughout The Years: A History of the Army at Bogan Gate tells a little known story of Australian history. This book can be found in the Family & Local History resource room. Photograph: Dan Fredericks (Parkes Library) taken on Friday 3rd March 2017
Parkes Library has a number of other books which focus on Breaker Morant. Pictured here are Breaker Morant: A Horseman Who Made History by F.M. Cutlack; Pro Hart’s Breaker Morant complied by Dawn Ross and In Search of Breaker Morant: Balladist and Bushveldt Carbineer by Margaret Carnegie and Frank Shields. Photograph by Dan Fredericks (Parkes Library) taken on March 10th 2017
*** Parkes Library also has several books with collections of Australian poetry that contain poems by Harry “Breaker” Morant, Will Ogilvie and Banjo Paterson. There are also two books on CD with poetry by Will Ogilvie Tribute To A Horseman: Poetry of Will Ogilvie read by Colin Munro and David Howard; and Echoes of the Outback: Identifying the character of the outback. Please contact Parkes Library (6861 2309) should you desire to borrow any of these items.
- Ksuyin. (n.d.). Bogan Gate [Photograph found in Australia/New South Wales/Bogan Gate, Flick River]. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from http://www.flickriver.com/places/Australia/New South Wales/Bogan Gate/recent/
- Judson, C. R. (1973). Gateway to the Bogan: the story of Bogan Gate & Burrawang Station (1st ed.). Orange, N.S.W.: Central Western Daily Print.
- West, J., & Roper, R. (2016). Breaker Morant: the final roundup. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley.
- “For The Honor Old England,” —AND—”THE GLORY OF THE GAME.” (1897, February 6). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72551034
- O’Brien, R. J. under the registered trademark Krackatinni (n.d.). William Henry Ogilvie. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from http://www.krackatinni.net.au/William-Henry-Ogilvie.htm#For the Honour of Old England