Australian Folk Songs

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Brace's Poling Pair

There's a small and stony section just aback of Broadford town,
There's a " natty " little homestead on the place,
There's a waggon on the roadside, with some tackling lying down,
But a decent sort of man is Mr. Brace.

And he owns a team of bullocks, now they're grazing on the hills,
They're as fat and sleek as any team can be
That's been used to carting firewood to the Broadford Paper Mills
From the paddocks in the bush country.

And Bob's an apt conductor, and a good and kind instructor,
And he's hardly ever known to curse or swear,
And the bush is full of quietness, yes, the bush is full of brightness,
Till Bob is starting out for to find his poling pair.

When he starts out in the morning, from across the distant range
The sun is flashing far his bars of gold,
And he hears the wild birds singing in chorus seeming strange,
With the vespers of the morning breezes cold.

And he listens for the tinkle of the bells that's lightly swinging,
To the motions of the bullocks as they lift or lower their heads,
Till adown some lonesome gully he can hear the far off ringing,
Of the bells upon his polers, and a grin his face o'erspreads.

Then there's trouble in the distance, for he knows there'll be resistance,
So he tightens up the saddle on his little piebald mare,
For the fences will be batter'd and the scrub and stones be scatter'd,
When Brace is starting homeward for to yard the poling pair.

Perhaps at first he'll find them grazing some where near the Sheoak Hill,
And he'll head them off to home along the track,
Then an hour or two later he may find them standing still
'Mongst the holes and scrubby wattles down the creek below Tyaak.

Then once more he'll set 'em going, and he'd pick 'em up again
At the railway gates on Reedy road, if they're shut or barred,
But by himself he knows 'tis useless, and with the aid of other men
At midday he may find 'em safely in the yard.

Then there's the others for to find, but for those he doesn't mind,
Once they're started homewards they're bound to track it there,
Although the poley clamper is a wanderer and a tramper,
Yet he's a decent kind of bullock to either of the pair.

So he gets the leaders coupled and standing quietly in their places,
And the others come by couples to the rear,
And the light of battle's glowing in those features bold of Brace's,
For the hour of tribulation's drawing near.

And the dampers, now he's yoked 'em, and chained them with the hook,
From the yoke upon the front ones for to keep them steady there,
Then he eyes the polers tackle with a long and wistful look,
And goes out to battle boldly with his pair.

Then the air begins to thicken, and the trees begin to sicken.
And suddenly the little birds grow silent everywhere,
And the grass has started fading, and the sun his light is shading.
Till the fearful battle's finished, and Brace has yoked the pair.

There's a track that runs from Broadford,and it leads to Reedy Creek,
And should it happen that you've got to take that way,
And you hear some fearful noises, like a thousand devils shriek,
Or a thunderbolt just fallen, or a cyclone in full play.

You needn't leave the roadway just to search out where the place is,
And you needn't start and wonder what can be the matter there,
For its nothing to alarm you, just a solid fact that Brace is
Having a thorough understanding with the pair.

Aye, there's nothing to alarm you, and there's still less there to charm you,
Only just a man and bullocks and some whip and blood and hair
Mixed together in a mass, and you'd want a magnifying glass
To distinguish Brace from bullocks, moreespecially from the pair.

T.D.B., Broadford.


From the Victorian newspaper the The Broadford Courier and Reedy Creek Times Friday 4 February 1898 p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory