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Title: Home And Camp Author: William Dean * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 2001161h.html Language: English Date first posted: October 2020 Most recent update: October 2020 This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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The Wheat Is In
The Post Miss
The Station Pet
“Dead Dog” Pinch
What’s In A Name
The Stock Form
New Year’s Eve
A Bushman’s Christmas
Lost And Found
The Parsonage Debt
A Trip To Borenore
Canterbury, New Zealand
The Bushman And The Brand
Work And Water
A Dead Bargain
The Unsettled Settler
Saved By The Crack Of A Stock-Whip
Australia’s Loyal Sons
The Run To Dulwich Hill
The Railway Ganger
A Bushman’s Soliloquy
A Bush Prayer Meeting
The Shearer’s Love
This little work is a collection of verses composed in leisure moments, many of them when at home on a western farm as I waited at night for the horses to finish feeding before turning them through the sliprails after a day at the plough. Some were composed by the camp fire, where I often sat alone watching the dying embers of boxwood when no sound broke the stillness of the night save, perhaps, the tinkle of a horse bell, or the distant cry of a curlew. Others were written in town and some in New Zealand.
I shall feel gratified if their perusal gives my old mates any pleasure.
The ploughs are propped by the farmyard fence
To rust with the harrow tines,
The horses graze where the grass is best,
Untouched by the long plough lines.
Their shoulders heal with the rest, and hair
Will grow on the scars again,
The hames and collars are hung aside,
With many a work-worn chain.
The empty bags over the beams hang,
And seed that was left stands by,
And no team halts at the head land fence,
No ploughman the lines untie.
No bell is heard, or the heavy thud
Of hoofs ere the break of day,
No ploughman’s voice at the stable door,
And seldom a horse’s neigh,
Men breakfast not by a candle light,
To rush with an eager haste,
To get to work ere the stars are gone,
No hour of the day to waste,
For with the seed in the drill at dawn,
Though horses and man seemed thin,
The fanner vowed there would be no rest
By day till the wheat was in!
And now the rain on the roof above
May fall, with a merry din,
The farmer sleeps through the winter nights
Content that the wheat is in.
Or while the moon lights the frosty air,
He dreams of the hard blue-stone,
And talks aloud of the undressed wheat,
For fields that he thinks unsown,
And jumps from bed as the clock strikes four
To dress and the work begin,
But dozes off with the pleasant thought,
The wheat—ah, the wheat is in!
Across the rise where the wattles grow,
I often ride when the sun is low,
Along the rack where the cattle camp,
To get my mail — or a postage stamp.
To stay and chat for awhile with Kate,
Beneath the stars at the garden gate,
To whisper love, and my hope renew
By saying “I’ve letters overdue!”
I take a paper, and every week
To Dingo Gully or Stoney Creek
I always write, for I never fail
To swell the bulk of the outward mail,
The mail is small, as you might suppose,
Some one must write or the post might close,
But still I get, do you understand,
No note addressed in a lady’s hand!
All iron will, and a strong right arm,
Will change my land to a fertile farm,
And this old life I will cast aside,
By making Kate at the post my bride.
And still some use of the post I’ll make,
To send away for the wedding cake,
And then not worry so much (would you?)
For letters or papers overdue!
Her father was leaving the station,
Through some little thing he had done;
And turned from a brief altercation,
To bid us good-bye on the run.
With frost laying white on the fences,
And ice an inch thick on the dam,
That morning to cut down expenses,
He told Nell to part with her lamb.
“We travel by train—cannot truck it,”
And oh! how the little one cried,
How often it drank from her bucket—
’Twas her’s when the mother had died.
I stood with my mate, Jack Mc’Kibbou,
The Sunday before and watched Nell,
Who playfully decked it with ribbon,
Adorning it’s neck with a bell.
She fed it the last time, and weeping,
She said with her hand on the gate:
“The lamb, Tom—I’ll leave in your keeping,
I’ll leave it to you and your mate.”
And Nellie has gone, and when older,
When clover and grass spring again,
I fear that the lamb, growing bolder,
Will join the big flock on the plain.
I trust, when from creek side and clearing
We muster for those in their “stands,”
That one of the flock at the shearing
Won’t pass to a rough shearer’s hands
To cut and to mangle to pieces
And after for others to cram
Unknown with the other small fleeces,
The fleece of that little girl’s lamb.
’Twas simple how it got the name—
Tom Brown, a shearing drummer,
On horseback with a rifle came
Along, in early summer.
A dog rushed out of Turner’s hut,
And Tom, his bark to stifle
He turned and aimed with eyes half shut,
And downed him with his rifle.
Old Turner caught him in the act
And cried, “A pound to square it!”
“I shot the mongrel that’s a fact,
A pound, how can I spare it?
’Twill pinch the youngsters much I fear
(To you it seems a trifle),
The missus gets no dress this year—
The devil take the rifle!”
He paid it ere he moved an inch
(Don’t everybody know it,)
The place is known as “Dead Dog Pinch”
(A dead dog lies below it).
And should it ever be a town,
The name was through a trifle—
A careless word by Thomas Brown,
A bullet from a rifle.
If once you strike our boarding house
You’ll know him by his hair,
It’s nearly seven inches long—
“Like all the artists wear,”
A kind of Barnum hard to beat,
A very cunning “kid,”
A fellow who accomplishes
What few men ever did,
He’s short, and straight, and shaven clean,
A funny little man—
One of a type you rarely meet
Is our “Professor” Stan.
And Stanley shows us tricks at times
With pennies up his sleeve,
Then ’kerchiefs vanish from his palm
And billiard balls deceive.
He spins a plate above his head,
And if you still insist
He takes a doll in either hand,
And turns ventriloquist.
He speaks of jugglers, long since dead,
And how the breeding ran,
And he was quite a marvel — was
The great grand dad of Stan?
Now, Stanley in his cunning way,
Don’t give away his wit,
The men who meet him every day
Have never dreamed of it.
But in the brain, beneath that hair,
Is much that’s come to stay.
The time will come, he told me once,
The time when it will pay,
And he will take the people’s cash
As not another can,
And all this arid Commonwealth
Will know the worth of Stan!
He hasn’t faced the public yet
To put it to the test,
But I, yes, I’m the chosen one,
Will take him somewhere West,
To see the bush land after rain,
And goodness only knows,
A small marquee, with gaudy sides,
At all the country shows.
At Dubbo, Bourke, and right away,
Will people pay to hear the wit,
And see the tricks of Stan!
And should you read in papers soon
About a risky trip,
Where masked men wait for one with cash,
With tire arms on each hip,
Remember, that across the plain,
By humpy, creek, and rut,
I go with one who looks as if
His hair was never cut.
So should you get descriptions of
A dusty caravan,
And of a man whose locks are long,
You’ll know I’m out with Stan!
In 1902, the residents of Bocobble petitioned the authorities, and succeeded in getting the original and aboriginal name of that place changed to “Pinecliff.”
No longer startled brumbies will,
The piney brambles break,
Or Dingoes howl at dead of night,
To keep a man awake.
The squatter’s day has gone for aye,
With wether, ewe, and lamb,
Dalgetty’s station had it once—
The block, reserve, and dam,
All hugged by unselected land,
And is it not a shame?
To kick the black man when he’s down—
To change the native name.
For well do I remember how,
With bush land everywhere,
We tightened girths and mounted in
A morning fresh and fair,
And brought the brumbies Gapward, aye,
And laughed, long after dark,
About the bucks in Finch’s horse,
That day at Noah’s ark,
We “took” M’c Nevin’s fences, and:
For some years did our best
To hold our own as riders ’gainst,
The riders of the west,
We saw the lather rising to
The wildest horses flanks,
And scared the kangaroos that bogged,
In slowly drying tanks,
But farms, and miles of clearing, and
It doesn’t seem the same—
Fresh blood, and someone then proposed
To change the native name.
In time, a school, and railway, and
At last, at last it came—
The place is known as Pinecliff, they
Have changed the native name.
The black man’s grave is yonder, by
The lofty yellow box,
A murdered aboriginal,
Before the days of Cox,
And here and there, by many trees,
Across the droughty west,
’Neath little mounds, by native marks
Do black men lay at rest
And as the dingoes in the scrub,
For sheep-yard cease to sniff
“Bocobble” gap, reserve, and dam,
The white man names “Pinecliff'”.
Australia federated! what,
A nation by and bye,
When ’possums cease to chatter, where
The startled curlews cry.
The black men die, the old hands go
A new man comes along,
Who knew not black: or pioneer,
And “puts to right” the “wrong.
“Pinecliff” is harsh in euphony,
And who have we to blame,
Ah, some one lately did it, dared
To change the native name.
I stand by the heaving ocean,
And look o’er the waves afar —
And watch the wide water’s motion,
Away where the great ships are.
I gaze on the scene, and ponder,
’Tis blue as a summer sky;
But off in the distance yonder
The dark waves are mountains high.
A change from the bush, a drover
Just fresh from the bridle reins,
With the long miles ridden over,
Away on the sandy plains;
A change from the horses tripping
In grass to the settler’s door,
To look at the sea-foam dripping
From rocks where the breakers roar.
A scene for a bushman splendid,
To think of when from the tanks,
Each overflow stream has wended
Its course to the river banks,
I’ll think (will my face grow paler?)
Of those on the salt sea foam,
But crave not to be a sailor,
Or long for a sailor’s home.
Away from the salt sea billows,
The mount in the calm daybreak,
Along by the creek and willows—
To ride in a brumby’s wake;
And after the ride rewarded
By claiming, with fiery brand,
A mob of the clean skins yarded—
Oh, give me the broad dry land;
The camp, with the fire and billy,
The yarn till the hour is late;
Of mounts on a colt or filly,
Or rides with a reckless mate;
Out where we admire a stranger
Who gallops to risk his neck,
Where bushmen can see no danger
Afar from a grim shipwreck.
Away where the bells are sounding
Along with the station flocks,
Afar from the waters bounding,
I dread not the sea or rocks,
And while o’er the seas in motion
God rules with a mighty hand,
The sailor may love the ocean—
But give me the broad dry land.
Some bushmen rode one Summer day
Beneath a fiery sun
Through forest land some miles away
From old M’Ivor’s run.
All but the boy (who ventured there,
M’Donald close beside)
Tall, bearded men and bushmen were,
And well they all could ride.
Young Bell had begged that morn that he
Might go and join the chase,
That o’er the waste land he might see
Them test a wild mob’s pace.
Reluctantly they gave consent,
And just to test his pace,
And please the boy, M’Donald lent
A horse that “once could race.”
Then over gully, plain, and hill
They rode, nor sought the shade
Although the sun grew hotter still —
Their paces were not stayed.
For out across some level land
The brumbies they espied,
Then old M’Donald made a stand,
And told them how to ride.
And soon they knew a stallion’s stride—
The black horse, “Forest King,”
That many bushmen far and wide,
Had failed to catch and bring.
And fearlessly they turned and rode
As old M’Donald planned,
But heat and pace too quickly showed
Defeat on every hand.
Defeat to all, save one alone,
The boy who cleared the heath
To higher ground, where granite stone
Went crashing down beneath.
For Mac drew rein ere long, and cried:
“Go, Harry Bell—go on —
Your weight is light, and you can ride,
Keep them in sight—we’re done.”
To “One Tree Hill” the eager men
Then climbed to view the chase,
And saw the brumbies wheel again
And slowly homeward pace.
And soon they saw within a mile,
Toward the stockyard wing,
The stripling in crack drover style,
Close up on “Forest King.”
He brought him down the track for home,
And by the willowed tank—
His panting horse, with flakes of foam
From bridle bit to flank.
But he had made the pace too hard,
Too fast for one grass fed —
The brumby fell when near the yard,
And sulked, and soon lay dead.
The run was o’er, and with remorse
Not many words spake they,
As each upon a knocked-out horse
Pursued his homeward way.
That day is past, but on a run,
On Lachlan river’s side,
Bell keeps a horse— an aged one,
In memory of his ride.
A letter came to Coady’s, and he found it on the floor
On coming from the races, where he’d spent a week or more.
And early in the morning, as he saddled up his mare,
He placed the letter in his hat above his unkempt hair.
And through the stony ridges, on by gully, gorge, and gap
He travelled in the broiling sun away to Charlie Tapp.
For years they knew each other, and this Tapp could write and read;
And when it came to business he was Coady’s friend indeed.
And twenty miles was “nothing”—there and back was half a day;
And rarely, very rarely, Charlie Tapp would be away.
When Coady shook the letter from his hat at nine o’clock
His neighbour merely turned and said, “a form about your stock.
So come inside, old fellow, have a feed now, and a smoke,
You’ll stay until to-morrow—take the saddle off your moke.”
But Coady said, “I cannot stay, ’twas waiting there for me
On coming from the races, and the coach will leave at three.”
“’Tis all about your stock,” said Tapp—“the number and the breed.”
“Why, hang it all,” said Coady, “don't I wish that I could read.”
And Tapp, with pen, and bottle of adulterated ink.
Sat down while neighbour Coady scratched his head, and tried to think.
He gave the nearest “post town,” and the acres in his land,
He named his “run,’’and then he gave the letters of his brand.
“A horse and pig is all I have, I’m overseer, and boss.
And when you write my signature just say you want my ‘cross,’ ”
And Coady since has married, and his children will be wise,
They get a bit o’ learning at the school across the rise;
And often does their father tell how once, in weather warm,
He travelled twenty miles for Tapp to fill a blessed form.
“Remember, too, the stock I had when further west you roam,
The horse that I was riding, and the pig I had at home!”
Sadly I pace in the twilight,
Sadly I think alone,
Here, while the year is dying.
Of how the time has flown,
High are the many haystacks
That workmen’s hands have piled,
While the wide paddocks yonder
Are white with grasses wild.
Quick are the moments flying,
Quickly the night comes on,
Fast is the old year going —
Where other years have gone.
Did the old year now ending
But pleasant memories leave
Lonely I’d not be wending,
Bush ward, on New Year Eve.
While I am spared to wander,
Still ’neath my native skies,
Many a friend and comrade,
Low in the grave-yard lies.
Now while the midnight passing
Ushers the New Year in,
Alas, with varied feelings,
The New Year will begin.
The drought has all gone, and again growing green
Is grass over hillside and plain,
A glorious change, for the better I weet.
The earth has revived with the rain!
No longer we look into pitiless skies,
No longer on ruin we gaze,
The beauteous scenes that now gladden the eyes,
Foretell for us happier days.
The corn crops are green, and apace grows the wheat,
While many are turning the soil
In fields, that so long have been parched by the heat,
And merrily sing at their toil.
The shining mould-board and the sharpening share
Each time at the end moving out,
Remind me that farming has lost every care
That came with the terrible drought.
The broad, verdant flats, from the brow of the hill
A glorious prospect to him
Whose fattening cattle now wander at will
To waterholes full to the brim;
The tinkle of sheep bells are heard through the morn.
From paddocks where merry birds sing —
And fleeces, from fat sheep, in time will he shorn,
In sheds where the shears click and ring.
All through the long year must the farmer depend
On rain from above for his crop,
Tho often it does not his labor attend —
For weeks, and for months ne’er a drop.
But sees he, at last, every dam overflow,
And fields looking verdant again,
And only the light-hearted farmer can know
The change on the farm after rain.
The day is slowly dawning, as alone I sit and see
Across the stretch of forest land, that goes to meet the sea,
The rays of sunlight stealing over mountains far away,
And I remember with a sigh, that this is Christmas day.
From yonder mountain’s rugged peak, against the eastern skies,
I watch the sun with fiery rays in majesty arise;
He slowly climbs the heavens, while beneath his sultry glare
Dry grasses wave, like wheat-fields, in the scorching Summer air.
My horse bell tinkles through the bush, and up among the trees
I hear a jackass laugh, as though some comic thing did please,
But while he laughs so hearty I remember with a sigh,
That ’tween me and the distant town broad belts of country lie.
’Tis Christmas, and in this wild place I cannot merry be,
This day of peace to all mankind brings little joy to me;
My work is not completed, but I’m bound to see it through,
And trust before next New Year Day to bid the place adieu.
’Twas early in the Summer, and the days were very hot,
The free selector’s cattle made for every shaded spot:
And out among the stations boundary riders lay asleep,
With: “Never mind the fences— or the squatter’s blessed sheep,”
When some one down the country heard of Meranburn afar,
Where five and thirty “kiddys” (some in shearing time could tar )
Had never one been christened, and the truth he meant to learn,
And sent a parson westward, on his way to Meranburn.
He crossed the old Canoblas, and in time was in the scrub,
And camped with a selector, who had just begun to grub;
And news of him to every home went through that very night,
And ere the moon, and stars above, gave way to greater light
The “kids” were gone, but none knew where, and men with whips and spurs
Rode down the winding bridle paths, and through the Bathurst burrs,
And women, milking, left the cows, and many left the churn:
“They must be found, a parson’s come,” they said, “to Meranburn.”
’Twas late when Johnny Fletcher heard the news, which made him grin
(The chap that lately bolted with a Lachlan River gin);
He mounted on his horse at once, and rode as bushmen do
(The sheep dog through the scrub that ran he’d got at Dandaloo,)
He searched the gullies, deep and wide, and cantered here and there,
And not a nag kept pace with him but Charlie Wilson’s mare.
By Coate’s creek, and everywhere, through mountain, scrub and fern,
They went, but failed to find that day the “kids” from Meranburn.
And when another morning broke they saw the dog was gone,
But took no heed, nor mentioned it, and still the search went on,
And when the sun grew hot above, they met their just reward—
They found the dog had mustered them, and had them in the yard!
And Charlie Wilson cantered home: “We’ve got ’em good in count.
The ‘kids’ are five and thirty strong, and out at MacKie’s Mount.”
And though Jack Fletcher’s wife was black, he did them such a “turn ”
That he is held in high esteem, henceforth, at Meranburn.
The mothers named while thankful dads now ran ’em down the race,
The while the parson water splashed on every “kiddy’s” face.
And now by settler’s hearth and home, and by the teamster’s log,
Do bushmen sit and spin the yarn of Johnny Fletcher’s dog.
And Fletcher, though the dog is old, with no teeth in his mouth,
Still brags of him to shearer chaps, and fellows from the south.
The parson’s dead, but who will rise and say he didn’t earn
His place on high, if only through his deed at Meranburn.
A parson one wet day was pacing the floor
In grief o’er the annual tea,
He had prayed that the day would be sunny and gay—
For the crowd that would gather at three;
Again and again he looked out at the rain,
With, “let not our plans be upset,
Lord help us for good, and this tea meeting should
Nearly pay off the parsonage debt.
It is true that we needed this glorious rain,
We have prayed for it all through the land,
Yet keep it, I pray, until some other day,
For the sake of my hard working band;
For my flock have erected their tea meeting booth,
And the church members worry and fret,
For they yearn to do well with the tickets they sell,
And to wipe out the parsonage debt.
Let the sun brightly shine on their efforts and mine,
Even now while I’m praying aloud
Let the rain clear away for just only a day,
And Lord send us a generous crowd.”
But the wind whistled round and the rain pattered down,
And the tea meeting fairly upset,
All the prayers were in vain, for the One who send’s rain
Did not study the parsonage debt.
O’er miles and miles of metal road, by gully, creek, and ridge,
By Boree through to Cheeseman’s Creek, and on to Keenan’s Bridge,
Then up the hill and onward, till the Dry Pub comes in view
(The Caves to right, and to the left the farms Amaroo);
And there were twenty-two of us that morning to explore
A place or two along the creek—and Caves of Borenore.
We halted where the ground was rough, and fixed the horses right,
For twenty miles at their best speed gave them an appetite;
Then in the Little Cave we went, and moved with scarce a stop,
Save here and there to scratch a name, then scramble out on top,
And then from the Verandah Rock the country round we saw,
Till someone said, “Let’s go and see the Big Cave Borenore. ”
’Twas one o’clock and luncheon time, so ere we made a start
We all partook of sandwiches, and cake, and roll, and tart—
All this the girls had brought along from up Mandagery side
(If e’er you fancy married life go there to win a bride);
These dainty things were passed around and none could wish for more,
A happy, pleasant time we had that day at Borenore!
And then we wandered up the creek, and through the dusty cave,
And turned and hurried back for tea, then one last look we gave.
And what a glorious homeward spin it was with bike and trap,
For twenty miles when girls are near one doesn’t care a rap!
And now I often say “I trust ’twill not be long before
We ride or drive again to see—the Caves of Borenore.”
Living fences—miles of gorse,
A wealth of waving grasses,
Plantations dotted here and there,
Through which the water passes—
’Tis ever running from the south
And keeps in constant motion,
Through farm and station, flock and field,
From river’s rise to ocean.
Rain falls upon the fertile earth
When Sou’West clouds pass over,
And sheep in Canterbury graze
Half hidden in the clover!
The ever-ready pioneers,
Who hailed from distant places,
Broke down the tussock, tilled the land,
And cut those water races!
Broad Canterbury—land of sheep,
Whose breeding nought surpasses,
They feed upon the fertile plain
Clothed with rich English grasses.
I’ve spent a pleasant holiday,
And, as through life I hurry,
My thoughts will very often turn
Down south to Canterbury!
He never learnt his alphabet, he never went to school,
He did a bit of fencing on the station, as a rule;
But though amongst the shearers he could make a decent score,
A hundred big merinos in a day, and reach for more —
How people read a paper he could never understand,
Until he learnt some letters from a horse and cattle brand.
He learnt the brands of horses, when he had them in the yard,
The jackeroos had taught him, and at first he though it hard,
But soon he knew a few, and though he never mentioned it,
The other fellows used to say that “Wylie knew a bit.”
A little education they began to think was “grand,”
For when they yarded strangers Wylie always read the brand.
At last they brought a stranger three-year-old—a dappled brown,
And Wylie on its shoulder damped its hair and stroked it down;
Experience with fencing came for once to Wylie’s aid,
And H A X showed plainly in the sunlight and the shade,
The other men were puzzled, and they could not understand
Until he told them: H A and a dog-leg was the brand;
And now upon the station, when a fellow out from Home,
Who has a bit of learning, happens up that way to roam,
They let him talk of colleges, or any British school,
But if he cannot fence they think him more or less a fool.
“A wiser man than Wylie, there is not throughout the land,”
Because he is a scholar, and can read the faintest brand.
To shave and brush up he begins
Each morning when he rises,
His hair has been in curling pins
Of many shapes and sizes;
His hands are white—complexion fair,
The girls speak of him highly;
There’s not a fellow anywhere
Can equal “Lovely’’ Riley.
He eyes his shadow when he mounts
To ride out to the races,
His love affairs he never counts,
So many pretty faces
Have smiled on him, and miles away
Nell Smith and Lizzie Whiley
Are fighting nearly every day
About their “Lovely” Riley.
A gallant, and he knows it well,
With soft admiring glances
You always find him with the belle
At all the country dances;
And little girls will sit awake,
And watch his movements shyly,
In hope that they in time will take
The floor with “Lovely” Riley.
He never does a stroke of work,
But studies new chum faces,
And does the line right through to Bourke
As speiler at the races;
He rifles drunks, and, lives by tricks,
But Western men are wily,
And time will find him in a fix,
This flash man—“Lovely” Riley.
In stripping wheat there’s nothing much to talk or boast about,
The noisy drum keeps humming as it puts the chaff to rout.
Where stunted wheat is standing I am perched upon the seat,
Turning, screwing, guiding, shouting, in the dust and in the heat,
And the only thing I crave for, as I watch the horses fag,
Is the half a yard of canvas that we call the water bag
My road mate, Jack Mulally, will upon the yield decide,
For he stands with pitchfork waiting the last bit of wheat inside.
And with stubble all around him, and a fiery sun o’erhead.
He throws the great, door upward and the stripper cloth is spread.
I drop the reins and panting, with a tongue too stiff to wag,
Say hoarsely, “Jack, old party, hand me up the water-bag.”
Ten acres more of stubble will be left again to day,
With “brasses” hot and burning, as he takes the wheat away,
Now we’ve finished with the cleaner and the rocking sieve and cup,
And I manage at the finish just a few winks, standing up.
Now we’re in the shed, ’tis midnight, with the heavy wheat in stack,
And I’m rubbing Eucalyptas on Mullaly’s blistered back;
And I say “Cheer up, ’twill harden, long before you hump your swag,
But when you get your cheque, old man, keep to the water-bag.”
The dark eyes seem to look in mine,
The red lips seem to speak,
I hear the night wind from the pine
Again steal down the creek.
I hear the waters ripple by,
I hear the soft low laugh,
As Florrie tells me merrily
To keep her photograph.
And softly through the she-oak boughs
The silver moonbeams fell,
The while I made the many vows
That lovers make so well.
I left her then, and with the pride
That only lovers know,
Resolved that ere I claimed my bride,
To live and but for Flo.
But there was much we did defer,
And much that might have been,
And while I worked, and strove, for her,
Another came between.
And then a shadow crossed my life.
A shade I would forget,
And though she is another’s wife,
I am unmarried yet.
Perhaps a future wife will tear
In scorn each little note,
And say she has no time to spare
For anything she wrote,
But should I live at length to be
An old man with a staff,
I’ll sometimes steal aside to see
My first love’s photograph.
I’m very tired of city life, and wish that I was back,
To run the horses in again, along the bridle track—
To hear the bull-frog bell across the flat behind the hill,
To rise and early go to work with harrow, plough, or drill.
My love from home and western farm no town will ever win,
Where I arose at break of day to bring the horses in.
What though I rose to see a frost, and all the fences white,
I rode with pride the pony I had stabled overnight.
And every morning down the road, not far from Bates’s well,
I used to stop and rub my hands, and listen for the bell.
And when the bell horse shook his head, in thought I hear it now,
The horses trotted straight for home — to feed, and then to plough.
I fancy I am back again among the flowers and bees,
With team of horses, fed and groomed, a plough and swingle trees,
A headland fifteen feet across, and pegs for "striking” out,
I’d take it on and chance the rest, the rabbits, rust, and drought,
For I am worried as I write, and I am getting thin—
I’m not as happy now as when I ran the horses in.
But surely I am dreaming that I’ve been so long away,
Ah no, since I last turned a sod ’tis ten long years to-day.
But when I woke this morning and the frost was on the pane,
I thought the ground was white, and I was on the farm again;
And oft I fancy that I hear (when city streets are still)
The horse’s bell somewhere upon the flat behind the hill.
It happened on the Lachlan, not so many years ago,
When Jack M’Creadie’s Waratah had proved that he could go.
He had him at the races in the district once or twice,
And used to say he wouldn’t sell the horse at any price,
For he could mount at peep of day, and ere there rose a star
Be ninety miles away from home, on good old Waratah.
Now Ned, his brother, lived across the river opposite,
And both were noted dealers, voted shady, day or night;
No Lachlan men were better known, and many who were “had,”
When dealing with M’Creadies said the brothers both were bad.
Two lying men (their faces very often bore a scar),
And Ned, the youngest, coveted the creamy Waratah.
But still his brother stuck to him, and let each offer pass,
And turned him in the paddock, where he managed on the grass;
But after days of absence in a bog he found him dead,
And in the thick of trouble came the thought of brother Ned.
So when they met together, Jack said, “now there you are.
I’ll take your sporting offer for the creamy Waratah.”
And Ned M’Crealie bought, him, giving thirty quid in cash,
But since he purchased Waratah he doesn’t seem so flash;
And Jack, when tales of cunning deals, he hears another spin
Thinks cunningly about the way he took his brother in.
Out west the man on wages gets advice on every hand,
“The best thing you can do, by far, is settle on the land.”
No doubt that this is good advice from one who doesn’t know,
But those who’ve had experience would never reason so,
For though there’s much for capital, ’tis little you will own
In fighting single handed on a block of land alone.
You toil beneath a burning sun a dozen hours a day,
And rarely see a neighbour, for they rarely come that way.
And when the gloom of night is there, and birds have gone to rest,
You sit and wish hard for the rain, and curse the rabbit pest.
Your supper done you read awhile, or think and youth recall
The while you watch the shadow of your figure on the wall.
Or vaguely count the rafters, through your grey tobacco smoke,
And listen to the knocking of the bell upon your moke;
Then watch the box wood burn beneath the hook of fencing wire
The while the water bubbles round the mutton on the fire,
Then rise and light the candle, which you cannot keep alight
For drafts that make your lonely hut a cheerless home at night.
Of course you mean to marry, but there’s surely time enough,
A house will go up quickly when the place is not so rough.
You strike the township often, and you never miss a chance
In gaining invitations from a neighbour to a dance,
And that is how you meet her who will be your future wife,
When you’re fighting “double-handed” on your block of land for life.
He feeds his horse on posts and rails,
Nor thinks of grass or water,
And talks of cows and milking bails
With M’Namara’s daughter.
He spends each Sunday afternoon
With Katie M’Namara,
And late, beneath the silver moon,
Rides slowly home from Garra.
He tells me she was “nicely dressed,”
Or, she looked “very pretty,”
And says there is not in the West,
Or in the crowded City,
Another girl who’s half as bright
As Kitty M’Namara,
Who makes him linger late at night
Across the bush at Garra.
And they’re engaged, though not for long,
He’s going in September
To take a stand at Burrawang,
And early in November
He’ll change the lengthy name for life
Of Katie M’Namara —
And best man when he makes her wife
I’ll have my day at Garra.
I tramped away from a Western town, when my luck seemed on the wane,
To search for gold, with an old mate, once, and worked for a time in vain.
We pitched our camp in a rugged place, and close by a winding rill,
Where every day as we swung the picks we worked to the magpies trill;
The dingo’s bay when the darkness reigned, and the curlews doleful cry,
Were sounds we heard in the still of night, from hills that were rough and high;
And though we washed in the gully beds, and worked in the likely ground
For miles around, and we grafted well, no payable gold we found.
Where the dying wounded soldiers lay around on beds of pain,
Men who fought, and bled, and conquered, but who ne’er will rise again,
Lay a young Australian soldier, ’mid the din of shot, and shell,
Dying for the mother country, and the Queen he loved so well,
Even with Death’s hand upon him, spoke he of his wounds with pride,
Slowly, surely, growing weaker, weaker, till he sank and died.
Once he rallied, speaking softly to a comrade by his bed.
“Will you write for me to mother, just a line or two?” he said.
“Will you tell her I’ve been ailing, but my illness now is slight?
That is why I haven’t written but that now I’ll soon be right;
I’m no further use for service, but the bravest first must fall,
They have given me leave, and shortly I again will see them all.”
And the writer (same contingent) by his bed enclosed a note,
Just to cheer the soldier’s mother: ‘‘Is improving fast,” he wrote,
And he sent it forth undated to the sick boy’s native shore
But before it reached his mother her brave darling was no more;
And to rest his comrades laid him, laid him in a foreign grave,
And his country lost a hero, and his Queen a soldier brave.
From the rolling plains to Westward, from the homes up in the North,
From the station and selection, ride the bravest natives forth.
Leaving mother, wife, or sweetheart, leaving hearth and home and all,
For from far across the Ocean they have heard the Empire’s call.
See they gather from the country, see they gallop from the runs;
And they press, toward the city, do Australia’s loyal sons.
There are others gone before them, there’s a big contingent gone,
And “Two thousand more are wanted,” will Australia send them on?
Yes the shearers, and selectors, and the farm and station hands,
Leave their stock whips hanging idle, leave their shears and cattle brands,
Some of them may never gallop through the scented bush again,
Never feel the stock-horse pulling at the tightened bridle rein,
They have suffered droughty seasons, they have fought it, year by year,
And a noble type of manhood is Australia’s volunteer;
And among the scenes of battle, and the roar of British guns,
Will be found the coolest, bravest, in Australia’s loyal sons.
’Tis Saturday—the Quay at night, the bell rings, and we go,
(No weather-beaten bushman here holds reins for Cobb and Co);
And with no track in mallee scrub to meet when moonlight fails—
We go where signals rise and fall, along the tramline rails;
We travel by electric power, where crowds are never still,
With two green circles in the front, and two words—“Dulwich Hill.”
And scores of people young and old are getting up and down;
Some hailing from the bush, and some who live their lives in town;
And men who count their cash by pounds, and some who count by pence;
The tram guard will not know a face in fifty minutes hence.
No bell will ring, and now he blows his whistle sharp and shrill,
For well he knows the time when he is due at Dulwich Hill!
At Enmore, and again the shout of “Section,” and away,
The driver means to finish well on time his trips to day,
The Bundy Time Recorders show the minutes that he takes,
And one hand holds a mighty power, and one commands the brakes.
The city lights are far behind, and miles of streets are past,
Soon Enmore, Marrickville have gone— ’tis Dulwich Hill at last!
When back again in Western camp, before we turn to bed,
Of tramline rails beneath a car and “live” wire overhead
I mean to tell to listening ears, of power where “switches” blow,
And men who would not care to drive a coach for Cobb and Co.
And they will listen, too, I know, and let me talk at will
Of men who go with crowded cars at night to Dulwich Hill!
The week end once again has come,
And through the waning light
I hear o’erhead from every gum
The bird that chirps at night;
And now my old horse I bestride
And ’neath the starlit sky
Towards the nearest township ride
To get a week’s supply,
I love to ride on these clear nights
Across the dewy grass,
And by the settler’s huts whose lights
Shine dimly as I pass,
For on the air comes music strains
And favourite songs I hear,
While horses clink their hobble chains,
Among the gum trees near,
Close by where many bullfrogs croak,
From out the slow creek’s mire,
Some swagman as they yarn and smoke
Look over from the fire,
And slowly by the scattered tents,
Through stringy bark, and pine,
I ride unchecked by any fence,
For where the town lights shine.
Of time in town I take no heed,
When settling up the bill,
For flour and tea and books to read—
I yarn while old mates will.
Tobacco for a smoke, and chew,
Till here in town again,
And in the slowly falling dew,
I take once more the rein.
The moon is up, the small stars shine;
And what a wondrous sight
The wild bush is, with miles of pine,
Lit up by pale moonlight.
On the railway line be it wet or fine
Early is work begun,
When the ganger goes, from his night’s repose,
Over his length to run.
All his mates are there and for work prepare
As he rides out of sight
On his strong machine, where he oft has been
To see that all is right.
The wild flowers grow on the ground below
Each rough embankment’s side,
And cuttings deep with their walls so steep
Are passed through in his ride.
In his onward race, noting every place.—
Nothing escapes his eye,
Any rail that’s there, showing signs of wear,
He sees while passing by.
At the Eighty Mile he will rest awhile,
For there his run is o’er,
And again go back on the gleaming track
To join his men once more.
And among the rest he will do his best,
He’ll work, and use his head,
Only brain and strength will do on a length,
Nothing will suit instead,
Oh the lady fair and the millionaire,
The country’s daily mails,
And the guarded man in the prison van
Glide o’er the well watched rails.
And the luggage train with the farmer’s grain
(Busy the railways are)—
How the trucks fly by with the bags piled high
From sidings near and far.
And the waggons full of the season’s wool
That mighty engines bring,
From the country down into Sydney town
Through all the day’s of Spring.
And all honour’s due to the trusty few
Who keep an open road
O’er the miles of rail for the “goods” and “mail”
To carry lives, and load,
In the Summer heat, in the snow and sleet
Of cold Midwinter days
For eight hours a day, the permanent way
They ward and watch always.
Beside the road I sit and gaze
Across the distant range,
And watch the sun’s departing rays,
And see the great Sky change;
The dusky evening shadows o’er,
The pine-clad mountains creep,
And darkness blurs the form once more
Of ridges rough and steep.
And as I turn my eyes on high
Again I see to-night
The myriad stars that deck the sky,
All shining clear and bright;
The hush of night is over all,
On wooded slope and hill,
I even miss the night-birds’ call,
No sounds the dim woods fill.
And through the deepening veil of night
I see the camp fire’s gleam
Reflected in a path of light,
Across the wayside stream.
Fatigued am I, a weary way
Since morning have I tramped,
And coming here at close of day
I lingered, and have camped;
A wanderer without friends or home,
Each morning, with the sun,
I rise, and start again to roam
Until the day is done;
And then I camp by creek, and bore,
By lonely road and lane,
Where I have never been before,
And may not see again.
Rough is the road I tread, indeed,
Though honestly I try,
Hard lives must bushmen ever lead,
And some fare worse than I.
And though I vainly tramped to-day,
Perhaps I should be brave,
Why should I fret? to-morrow may
Bring me the work I crave.
Though luxury I can’t afford,
The right is left to me
To sleep upon the dewy sward,
’Neath Heaven’s canopy,
The blossoms by the dusty road,
And every wild bird’s song,
Lifts from my heart the heavy load—
That it has borne so long;
And when on fairer paths I roam,
Each farmhouse, vale, and dell,
Reminds me of my childhood’s home,
And spots I love so well,
Why should I trouble? I am sure
A change will come ere long,
What if I am at present poor,
Are not my young arms strong?
I’ll brood no more, for hoof-beats now
Break on the silent night,
A horseman ’neath yon gum tree bough,
Rides in the dim starlight;
He passes down the road, and soon
The sound of hoof-beats die,
And the belated rising moon
Lights up the Eastern sky.
’Tis growing late, I now must rest,
And slumber till the dawn,
And though by many cares oppressed
I’ll greet another morn.
And tramp again and never pause,
Nor in my trust I’ll tire,
And murmur not without a cause,
Beside my next camp fire.
I’ve heard some preachers in the bush,
In solemn tones, and low,
Describe the place of torment that
Awaits us down below:
I’ve had a parson tell me if
I meant to save my soul
I must walk in and let him dip
Me in a waterhole.
But once when I was on the tramp
With spirit bowed with care
I met a man who said that he
Could bottle up a prayer.
I came one Sunday afternoon
Into a Western scrub
Miles away from any station,
Afar from any pub.
I pitched the tent and made it fit
To meet a stormy night,
And was looking at the pegs and strings
To see that they were right.
When close beside me in the scrub
I heard these words somewhere:
“There’s service at my house to-night,
You’ll join us sir, in prayer.”
I looked to see who owned the voice,
A man it was, I saw,
“Excuse me” said the visitor,
“We’ve never met before —
There’s service here but thrice a year
And though you weary be
I’d like to have you in our midst,
So come along with me.”
I pointed to my shabby dress,
But he said, “Never mind,
Such things are never seen by those
So in I went, of worshippers
I counted twenty one,
The preacher was a local man;
I think his name was Dunn.
And when he preached the sermon through,
He said with solemn air—
“Go those who must, but all may stay,
And join in private prayer.”
I didn’t like to leave alone
And so I thought I’d stay,
I knelt upon the cold bare floor,
The rest began to pray.
And through the dimly lighted room
In turn each prayed around,
And save the night wind’s sobs without
I heard no other sound.
When all had prayed, the preacher said;
“The stranger over there,
The stranger kneeling in the rear,
Will lead us please in prayer—
These prayers go in a bottle, friend,
It is not idle talk,
Another one and it is full,
I’ll hammer home the cork;
You're with good friends, be not afraid—
An awful place is hell.”
He paused, and through the room again
A dreadful silence fell.
And then I clasped my horny hands,
A man of want, and care,
And I who had not prayed for years,
I uttered words of prayer.
I prayed not long, and when I ceased
I heard the rush of feet,
Bush congregations part in haste,
Although they seldom meet.
The night was wet, and through the trees
I reached the camp again,
Upon the calico I heard
The ceaseless beat of rain;
But long I tossed upon my bunk
With feelings of despair,
I wondered what the fellow meant
By talk of bottled prayer.
And when I thought of mine on top
It made me feel afraid,
I wondered if ’twould froth like yeast,
Or fiz like lemonade.
I’ve seen bush-women bottle jam,
I’ve purchased bottled beer,
But praise like pickles, in a jar—
It did seem rather queer.
The man was sane he’d preached for years
And yet how could he dare
To tell the kneeling worshippers
He bottled people’s prayer.
Oh Lord (before it is too late)
Make clear Thy way to him,
Throw light upon his narrow path—
A pathway very dim.
May good, and pious, clergymen
Replace such men as these
Who trifle with the word of God,
And men upon their knees.
And they who leave for foreign lands,
To pray for heathen there,
May find in our own inland wilds
As great a need for prayer.
Next morning as I rolled my swag,
To leave the lonely camp,
An unconverted man of years,
To face a weary tramp.
I heard a sharp and sudden crash
That shook the hills of pine.
A man I met said, “’Twas a blast
On Geebung railway line.”
But often through the day I thought
When many miles from there,
The bottle’s bursted, ’Twouldn’t keep,
All through a swagman’s prayer.
Beside the rails on a western farm
In early spring, on a morning calm,
A bushman tall and a maiden fair
Spoke of the life that they meant to share;
A fervent kiss, and he rode that day
Across the river, and far away.
The roll was called for the shearing “stands.”
The sharp blades flashed in his comrades’ hands
And down the board did they tally keep—
But not another could handle sheep
Like him who went to his “stand” to make
The shearing fast for a fair girl’s sake.
Her dainty notes as they came to hand
Renewed his strength as he held his “stand,’
And when for weeks not a line had come
He said, “Ah! well I will soon be home.”
The shearing done, he was free at last
He caught his horse and he travelled fast.
A faithless girl, and a journey strange—
Now in his life came a wretched change.
Though envied long by a mate he knew,
He never thought she could prove untrue,
But finds it so, for the neighbours say:
“She married another yesterday.”
An old, old tale, that is often told—
His block of land to the squatter sold.
Devoid of hope, and in deep despair
He could not think now of living there
He said, he thought he would take a spell,
“Now he humps his swag,” the neighbours tell,
And still in spring to a shed he goes
And works awhile, then the Job he throws,
For only there for a time works he,
Then raves to mates in a drunken spree
And ever speaks of the scented grove,
And the faithless girl he used to love.
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