Originally posted 26 June 2012
As long-established distillers are sold and resold by multinational companies, the histories of the people and events behind the brands are lost. It seems strange that someone would pay for a famous name and then allow the reasons for that fame to be forgotten, especially as an archive is inexpensive to maintain and can be the foundation for a museum that can attract tourists, but it happens all too often. Therefore it is worth cheering the owners of Bundaberg Rum, who are cooperating with Australian rum enthusiasts who recently established a Bundaberg history page.
Their site is at bundabergrumshowcase.com.au, and they are looking for stories, historical notes, and memorabilia. If anybody out there can give them a hand, please be generous with your information – we all benefit. In their honor, I would like to refer you to a wonderful poem called “Rum and Water” by the nineteenth century poet Thomas Edward Spencer.
Stifling was the air, and heavy; blowflies buzzed and held a levee,
And the mid-day sun shone hot upon the plains of Bungaroo,
As Tobias Mathew Carey, a devout bush missionary,
Urged his broken-winded horse towards the township of Warhoo.
He was visiting the stations and delivering orations
About everlasting torture and the land of Kingdom Come,
And astounding all his hearers, both the rouseabouts and shearers,
When descanting on the horrors that result from drinking rum.
The tale of the wandering missionary and the drunken bushman arguing about what has hurt more people, rum or water, is too long for me to reproduce here, but trust me, it is worth reading.