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The Drover's Farewell to the Bush (1944)

I have brought in my last mob of cattle and sheep ;
I have finished with droving for good ;
I've unrolled my last swag, and have had my last sleep
By the glow of the warm yarran wood.

I'm leaving the runs that I loved to explore.
And the routes I have travelled for years ;
I'll list to the clinking of hobbles no more.
Nor the bell sounding sweet to my ears ;

I have not much to show for the time I have spent
In the camps of the wind and the rain.
But I'd follow the life of a drover, content,
If I had to live over again.

For the call of the stock route is hard to deny :
The plants going out with their loads ;
The crack of the whip, lowing cattle all vie
In luring one back to the roads.

But, whatever my future, I know I shall miss
Many things that were part of my life ;
The severance from that, and the parting from this,
Already cut deep like a knife.

I'll miss Cavalier--I have sold him to-day--
And it took a great effort to part
From my pal of the roads, for the old dapple-grey
Filled a very soft spot in my heart.

I'll miss, in the morning, the heart cheering notes,
Where the birds greet the sunrise with song ;
And the choruses grand from the baritone throats
Of the frogs in the full billabong.

It's strange how those things of the bushland can fill.
Subconsciously, often, the mind,
And we don't know how dear they are to us till
We are going to leave them behind.

Oh, well ! I suppose I have had a fair spin ;
It's time I was taking a rest :
For fifty long years l've been bringing stock in.
On the various routes of the west.

But the train's at the station, that takes me away ;
I'll have to be making a push ;
I'm a trifle top old for the saddle to-day--
So I'm saying farewell to the bush.

--James Dowling.


From the NSW newspaper The Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer 16 May 1944 p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory