About Chris Webster
Chris and Merv Webster's web site
A Drover's Life
From cloudless skies the sun beat down, no end to drought in view.
Hard years were here and money scarce; what could the young man do?
He'd tramped with Blue his faithful dog through Queensland's outback heat,
The choking dust, the swarms of flies; they almost had him beat.
To quit was far from on his mind despite life's crushing blow,
And though no answer seemed in sight he just kept on the go.
He'd sold his saddle for some nosh, his bridle bought some smokes.
Mt Sturgen lay not far ahead, he'd heard they're hiring blokes
How fortunes change and prayers are heard, the boss gave him a start;
To take some heavy draughts down south, which lifted his young heart.
So soundly did he sleep that night as mind and soul were one,
He'd leave next morn for 'Nevertire' and rise before the sun.
Old Blue, his faithful heeler dog, would have to stay behind;
Too hard on paws, no wagonette was what had crossed his mind.
With packhorses, five hundred draughts, all bound for New South Wales;
This jaunt would sort the men from boys and make them tough as nails.
The frequent passing of the mobs had left the stockroute bare,
But with the draughts all in their prime he guessed they'd make it there.
A local cop at Prairie then rode out to meet the crew,
"Turn back you blokes," 'Mt Sturgeon' says, "the market's fallen through."
"Seems word from down at 'Nevertire' is 'bullocks making dough',
Your boss says take the draughts on home, he's bullocks right to go."
They walked the thirteen hundred head back down the route they'd come,
But lack of grass and wat'ring holes make bullocks troublesome.
The weather worn and weary men each one had done his share,
For six hard months they'd walked the mob down stock routes stony bare.
With Bourke in view what crossed their minds was what most drovers dread;
The river and its swinging bridge, which lay just up ahead.
That bridge it stretched for nigh a mile and spooked the touchy mob,
To cross that creaky, swinging bridge was sure to be a job.
Three days at dawn and dusk they tried, each time the mob would baulk,
No matter what the stockmen tried the bullocks wouldn't walk.
A weather beaten widow, who was truly past her bloom,
Would silhouette the morning light amidst this face of gloom.
Each day the widow with her mob of motley looking cows
Amazed them as they crossed the bridge their mob would snub for hours.
Dead-beat the drovers watched in awe these cows with calves at play,
Observing how they crossed that bridge at dawn and dusk each day.
Then finally the penny dropped; They'd use them as their lead.
"But not for nought!" the widow snapped, "Five pound is what I need!"
At dawn the widow joined their mob. "Just follow me," she said.
And stone the crows they followed her all thirteen hundred head.
They pushed the bullocks on to Bourke and fin'lly Nevertire,
Where at long last they stood in yards all ready for the buyer.
For eight long months he'd been away, though felt a sense of pride;
A job well done, a wad of notes and self esteem beside.
T'was thoughts of home that filled his head along with his mate Blue,
So grabbed his swag and headed north; a change was overdue.
With Blue in tow he waved good-bye and waited at the bend
To hitch a ride and see his folks before the year would end.
A thunderhead was rolling in, a change was on the way,
But that's the lot of a drover's life, you take it day to day.
© Chris Webster
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Merv Webster adds: While traveling up the Kidman Way on one of our trips, we stayed at the Enngonia pub north of Bourke, where Chris found out from a local that the above story her father had told her was in fact true and the old widow apparently had quite a reputation in the district.
Nosh - Tucker or food.
Draughts - Draft Horses.
Nevertire - Town in outback New South Wales south of Bourke.
Bourke - Town in outback New South Wales on the Darling river.
About Chris Webster:
Aussie Bush Poets - Chris and The Grey [Chris and Merv Webster]
Multi award winning Aussie bush poets, Chris and the Grey, have collected over the years an impressive collection of awards for their performance poetry as well as written verse. Both have been finalists with their books and albums on several occasions at the Golden Gumleaf Bush Laureate Awards held at Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital. It is Australia's largest Country Music Festival. Merv has also won many yarn spinning championships, including the Australian Championships.
Chris, the daughter of a drover (Australian cowboy) was born in the South-West Queensland town of Roma. Over the years, she has enjoyed sharing poetry performances with Merv, as they present their show of bush verse and yarns which they call, "Laughter & Tears From the Bush." Chris won the serious written section for poetry at the Australian Bush Poetry Championships in 2000.
Merv was born in the Queensland - New South Wales border town of Goondiwindi [Gundy]. In the seventies four Goondiwindites formed a syndicate and purchased a dapple grey racehorse, which they named GUNSYND. He became a legend and today there is a statue of him in the town. One day while looking at the memorial, Merv's wife Chris observed that, besides both having ties with the town, they also shared another similar feature. Their greyness, and exclaimed. "Well I'll be blowed. I married the Goondiwindi Grey." Merv then decided to keep the old mate's name alive and uses it as a pseudonym.
Chris and The Grey invite you to browse their web site, www.bushpoets.go.to and get to know them a little better. Read or download a sample and listen to some of their works.
MERV & CHRIS WEBSTER
P.O. Box 8211
See poetry by Chris's partner in life and poetry, Merv Webster, right here.
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