1. an uninhabited, sparsely populated or inhospitable region; thus used attrib. in combs., e.g. mulga madness, mental decay that can overtake those spending long periods alone in such regions; mulga scrubbers, stock that have run wild and deteriorated in condition; Mulga Bill, generic for a bushman.
|Colonial Reformer II 72: These fascinating territories of limitless mulga-downs.|
|Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 9: He loves the merry rattle of the stockwhip, and the tramp / Of the cock-horned mulga scrubbers when they’re breaking in the brush.‘Off the Grass’ in|
|Buln-Buln and the Brolga (1948) 🌐 A despondent mal-du-mulga sigh, bespoke the sensitive barbarian’s appreciation of the lady’s half-averted face and my stony silence.|
|Jarrahland Jingles 85: The miles are long in mulgaland, Beyond the beaten pad.‘Christmas Camp’ in|
|Sun. Times (Perth, WA) Supp. 19 Dec. 25/5: Pincher [...] laughed as he whispered something to the boy from the mulga.|
|Aussie (France) 4 Apr. 3/2: Fritz had been sending heavy stuff over into an area that he had previously left alone, so Mulga Bill decided to dig in and live in a dugout instead of a tent.|
|Drovers (1977) 9: Maybe the bush’ll miss me a bit . . . the tracks I’ve travelled, and a star or two, and the old mulga.|
|Dryblower’s Verses 72: They still tell the story in the Mulgaland bars.‘Mrs. Flanagan’s Frock’|
|Era (London) 1 Feb. 9/3: This sheila [...] puts the hard word on this cricketer dope, to drive her into the mulga.|
|Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. (2nd edn) 52: Mulga madness, the ‘queerness’ sometimes developed in lone bushmen or fossickers.|
|Aus. Lang. 67: Scrubbers, bush scrubbers, mulga scrubbers, mallee pikers, kangaroos, myalls, scrub danglers, runabouts, stock that have run wild and deteriorated in condition.|
|(con. 1936–46) Winged Seeds (1984) 21: Bobby was away out in the mulga and couldn’t be found.|
|I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 236/1: mulga – a lie or a tall story. mulga madness – ‘touched’, ‘a little off’. used of some old prospector or someone who has been alone too long.|
|AS XXXIII:3 167: mulga scrubbers, myalls, scrub danglers, n. phr. Feral stock. From mulga, a type of acacia.‘Australian Cattle Lingo’ in|
|Holy Smoke 15: All them scraggy old mulgas. [Ibid.] 58: Stuck up here in the mulga, when he could be earning good money down in the city.|
|Aussie Swearers Guide 66: Mulga Bill. A simpleton, specifically from the Bush.|
|Burn 110: It’s right back there in the cities. Not out in the sand and the mulga.|
|Holden’s Performance (1989) 275: Lately McBee had taken to publicly pointing to his war wound with the mulga walking stick.|
|(con. 1960s) Never a Normal Man 229: Identical miles of disheartening scrub known as mongrel-mulga.|
|Sucked In 113: Bypassing Kilmore [...] Not exactly the mulga, but you can’t be too careful once the houses run out.|
|Scrublands [ebook] Mulga scrub. Hundreds of square kilometres of it.|
2. attrib. used of one who lives in such a region.
|Worker (Brisbane) 4 Sept. 8/3: And if you like to learn a bit about the ‘Mulga Clan’ — Just listen to the patter of the Western shearer-man.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 10 Jan. 1/1: A Mulga mining man had a blue lightning time in a leading Perth pubbery.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Nov. 47/1: Then Mulga Mick grabs ’old o’ Bill, an’ cutely found an’ felt / A most auspicious spongy wad inside the corpse’s belt. / Then from a little chamois bag ’e pulls a fiver out – / ‘No Jimmy Woodsers ’ere,’ sez ’e; ‘It’s William’s turn to shout!’.|
3. see mulga wire(s)
1. kangaroo meat.
|Menzies Miner (WA) 22 July 7/2: The ‘Little Westralians’ - the representatives of mulga mutton and the uninhabited wilderness - have concluded that Federation is not good for them.|
|W. Aus. Sun. Times (Perth) 23 Feb. 2/1: They say [...] That ‘mulga mutton’ and grilled gohanna are succulent delicacies compared with the comforts obtainable thereon.|
|Sun (Kalgoorlie) 2 Oct. 7/3: Imagine his dismay on reaching the sports to find that instead of a ‘mulga mutton,’ with the aid of a powerful pair of pince nez he was only able to discern a half-folded rug, lying at his feet .|
|I’ve Met Some Bloody Wags! 125: Another ‘individual’ who lived in the district, ran over 7000 sheep and several hundred cattle, yet fed his family on mulga mutton, or hoppy steaks - our national emblem - kangaroo!|
|Wagarno Station [restaurant menu] Main Course: Loin of Mulga Mutton in Paperbark with Quandong Chilli Sauce.|
2. the meat of feral goats or sheep.
|Across Unknown Australia 154: For tea that night there was a most excellent dish of mulga mutton - goat.|
|Telegraph (Brisbane) 10 June 15/1: We grill our meat straight on the coals, whether it is beefsteak, mutton, chop, or mulga mutton - that is, goat.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 2 Dec. 13/6: We’ve seen ’em at a wayside pub / In days when rum was cheap enough, / Shoot mulga mutton in the scrub, / Providing there were sheep enough.|
1. a ‘bush telegraph’, the ‘grapevine’.
|Well-Sinkers 100: ‘How do you hear all this?’ [...] ‘Mulga wires, missus, mulga wires.’.|
|‘Their Mate’s Honour’ in Roderick (1972) 759: They had got a mulga wire that Joe Large was at the Bridge Hotel.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Oct. 5/2: We saw Abdullah’s teams go forth by right of pad and pack; / We’d further news by mulgagraph from further up the track / (We knew that of the white men there the heart of one was black), / We saw Abdullah’s camels go... but never one came back!|
|Spell of the Inland 62: Everard was surprised. The ‘mulga wires’ had not told him this.|
|Cattle King 78: ‘Any ‘outside’ news?’ [...] ‘I don’t take much notice of mulga wires.’.|
|Aus. Lang. 75: Among these terms [for rumour or gossip] are bush wire, mulga, mulga wire, gidyea, sugarcane, Tom Collins, and, probably best known of all furphy.|
|I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 236/1: mulga wire [...] – the source of falsehoods or tall stories.|
|Holy Smoke 79: So when the big noise among the Israelites, Joshua, hears this on the mulga wire, he sends along a couple of spies.|
|Lingo 50: Related to these activities is the term for those who brought news of what the traps or troopers were doing to the bushrangers with whom they sympathised – bush telegraphs. bush telegraph and the even more evocative mulga wire are still in use to describe mostly, though not exclusively, rural rumour networks.|
2. (also mulga) a rumour, a lie.
|Quinton’s Rouseabout and other Stories 186: Oh, tell them that you just said it for a lark. It’ll be alright. They’ll be that delighted to find it was only a mulga that they’d toast you as ‘a jolly good fellow’.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Sept. 36/1: Now the voice of Jumbuck, Horny and Co. is being heard in the land: ‘interfering with Private Enterprise,’ ‘addling the biggest egg in Queensland’s basket,’ ‘putting a heavy weight on the premier industry’ – the same old ‘mulgas’ that we know by heart, and are getting so full up of.|
(Aus.) to take to the bush, thus to go off by oneself.