written by John Barnes and Andrew Furphy
‘Furphy’ is a uniquely Australian word. The Australian National Dictionary defines it as ‘a water cart’ and ‘rumour, or an absurd story’.
For Australians on the land the water cart was life sustaining and indispensable, and the firm of John Furphy is the most famous of its makers. In Victoria and the Riverina, by the time of the First World War, the Furphy was the water cart. The men of the first AIF, waiting to go to war, appropriated the name painted on its side, and took the new word to Gallipoli and the Western Front.
Furphy Water Carts were made for over 90 years. They are now collectors’ items, and tank ends, with intriguing moral and political messages in cast iron, are prized as wall plaques. In the eyes of later generations, they symbolize a rural past of simple verities and individual effort.
‘Furphy’ the word from World War 1 came to life in the Broadmeadows training camp. Blossomed in Egypt, the Gallipoli campaign and the Western Front and is still mostly used by politicians and the media which some would say is appropriate.
The dear old “furphies”.
They made life on the various fronts worth living.
What could we have done without them?
We shall not bid them goodbye, for they are still with us. May they ever remain with us and may they long retain the name even of such lovely birth, but a name that came to us and remained with us while we were making our country a nation
CAPT. T.A WHITE