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The Down And Out (1942)

"We're goin' to hit the track again.
Those tracks that have no end,
We'll travel 'long the dusty strips
And roads that ever bend.
Across the distant mountains blue.
Where earth end skyline meet,
We'll wander on, my doggie mine.
My little cobber, Pete."

Pete sidled near, he wagged his tail.
He licked his master's hand,
His faithful eyes looked into Bill's
He seemed to understand.
Bill's eyes grew misty, deep in thought.
His mind flew o'er the years,
To times when life had smiled on him,
Before 'twas filled with tears.

Again he saw the moving herd--
The cattle on the track,
He heard the shouts and merry gibes
Of mates he'd known outback.
Again he listened to the yarns
That bushmen love to tell.
When fathered round the campfire bright,
While deepening shadows fall.

He leaned against the shanty door,
His thoughts now far away,
Then suddenly there came a shout.
And ribald laughter gay,
From Davy Catchem's wayside pub
Bill started forward--frowned.
He looked down at his ragged clothes.
Then sank upon the ground.

In indecision long he stared
Across the dusty street,
Pete whimpered low and laid his head
Upon his master's feet.
Bill heaved a sigh then questioned low,
'Pete doggie, shall we stay
To be the Joke of blokes like that
Or shall we break away?'

Again Pete thumped his stumpy tail
As though he'd have his say.
His pleading eyes looked up at Bill,
And then along the way
To where long trails awindlng led.
Far over mount and plain,
As though he too saw days of old,
And longed for them again.

Bill staggered to his bootless feet,
He swore and swore again.
To think I've e'er been such a fool,
Not known the chaff from grain
What though that legacy but brought
False friends instead of true,
The friends that toadied round and cared
Until the gold was through.

'To let such small things blight my life,
And hang around the town,
A starvin' joke in rags and dirt,
Because Life let me down.
It's not the dinkum Aussie way,
No, Pete, well let them see
That old Bill still can hold his own.
They'll laugh no more at me.'

Bill straightened up, his eyes ablaze
With resolutions new,
And once again his hopes soared high.
He saw a sky of blue,
And running streams and stars that shine,
And campfires burning bright,
He heard again a dingo's howl
From out a lonely night.

With little barks of pure delight
Pete watched Bill roll his swag.
And tried in his own canine way
To say that he was glad.
Maybe he sensed those times ahead
When journeys would be o'er.
When Bill would meet those pals so true
He'd known long years before.

Quite likely, too, he glimpsed again
The cattle o'er the hill.
And heard once more the drover's song
Just as of old with Bill.
They'd trail a herd into the west,
O'er mountain pass and plain,
Where life Is peaceful, pure and free,
And friendships not in vain.

" Kimalo." via Mareeba. E. PIKE


From the Queensland newspaper the Townsville Daily Bulletin Friday 3 July 1942, p. 5.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory