Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems


 Store cattle from Nelanjie!  The mob goes feeding past,

With half-a-mile of sandhill  'twixt the leaders and the last;

The nags that move behind them are the good old Queensland stamp--

Short backs and perfect shoulders that are priceless on a camp;

And these are men that ride them, broad-chested, tanned and tall, 

The bravest hearts amongst us and the lightest hands of all:

Oh, let them wade in Wonga grass and taste the Wonga dew,

And let them spread, those thousand head--for we've been droving too!


Store cattle from Nelanjie! By half -a-hundred towns,

By Northern ranges rough and red, by rolling open downs,

By stock-routes brown and burnt and bare, by flood-wrapped river-bends,

They've hunted them from gate to gate--the drover has no friends!

But idly they may ride to-day beneath the scorching sun

And let the hungry bullocks try the grass on Wonga run;

No overseer will dog them here to 'see the cattle through,'

But they may spread their thousand head--for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! they've a naked track to steer;

The stockyards of Wodonga are a long way down from here;

The creeks won't run till God knows when, and half the holes are dry;

The tanks are few and far between and water's dear to buy:

There's plenty at the Brolga bore for all his stock and mine--

We'll pass him with a brave God-speed across the border line;

And if he goes a five-mile stage and loiters slowly through,

We'll only think the more of him--for we've been droving too.


Store cattle from Nelanjie!  They're mute as milkers now;

But yonder grizzled drover, with the care-lines on his brow,

Could tell of merry musters on the big Nelanjie plains,

With blood upon the chestnut's flanks and foam upon the reins;

Could tell of nights upon the road when the same mild-eyed steers

Went ringing round the river bend and through the scrub like spears;

And if his words are rude and rough, we know his words are true,

We know what wild Nelanjies are--and we've been droving too!


Store cattle from Nelanjie!  Around the fire at night

They've watched the pine-tree shadows lift before the dancing light;

They've lain awake to listen when the weird bush-voices speak,

And heard the lilting bells go by along the empty creek;

They've spun the yarns of hut and camp, the tales of play and work,

And wondrous tales that gild the road from Normanton to Bourke;

They've told of fortunes foul and fair, of women false and true,

And well we know the songs they've sung--for we've been droving too!


Store cattle from Nelanjie!  Their breath is on the breeze;

You hear them tread, a thousand head, in blue-grass to the knees;

The lead is on a netting-fence, the wings are spread and wide,

The lame and laggard scarcely move--so slow the drovers ride!

But let them stay and feed to-day for sake of Auld Lang Syne;

They'll never get a chance like this below the border line;

And if they tread our frontage down, what's that to me or you?

What's ours to fare, By God they'll share!  for we've been droving too!


W H Ogilvie  1869 - ?

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