Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems



When the horse has been unharnessed and we've flushed the old machine,

And the water o'er the sluice is running evenly and clean;

When there's thirty load before us, and the sun is high and bright,

And we've worked from early morning and shall have to work till night,

Not a man of us is weary, though the graft is pretty rough,

If we see the proper colour showing freely through the stuff.

With a dandy head of water and a youngster at the rear

To hand along the billy, boys, and keep the tail race clear,

We lift the wash and flash the fork and make the gravel fly.

The shovelling is heavy and we're soaked from heel to thigh;

But it makes a fellow tireless and his thews and sinews tough

If the colour's showing freely as he gaily shifts the stuff.

When Geordie Best is pumping to a rollicking refrain,

And Sandy wipes his streaming brow and shakes the fork again,

The pebbles dance and rattle and the water seems to laugh -

Good luck is half the battle and good will's the other half;

And no day's too long and trying and no toil is hard enough,

When we see the colour showing in each shovelful of stuff.

Can the mining speculator with a pile of golden serip,

Or the plunger who has laid his all upon a winning tip,

Or the city man who's hit upon a profitable deal,

Know the wonderful elation that the lucky diggers feel

When fortune's smiled but grimly and the storeman's looking gruff,

And at last they see the colour showing freely in the stuff?

Never, mates! It is a feeling that no other winner knows -

Not the soldier marching homeward from the conquest of his foes,

Nor the scholar who's successful in his searching of the skies,

Nor the squalid miser groveling where his secret treasure lies.

'Tis a keener, wilder rapture in the digger bold and bluff

Who feeds the sluice and sees the colour shining in the stuff.

Then lift the wash, and flash the fork, and make the gravel fly!

We can laugh at all the pleasures on which other men rely,

When the water o'er the sluice is running evenly and clean,

And the loaded ripples glitter with a lively golden sheen.

No day's too long and trying, and no toil is hard enough,

When we wash her down and see the colour freely through the stuff.


   Edward Dyson, 1865 (near ballarat) - 22.8.1931

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