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Lariat Laureate

of Lithgow, Australia

recognized for his poem, Looking Back

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.

 

About Jack Sammon:

I was born and raised on cattle stations in the north of Australia and as soon as I was old enough to leave school, which I did as correspondence as we lived one sixty miles from the nearest town, I went to work as a stockman (cowboy) working on stations and droving all over the north. This life is what the poem After The Wet is about.

After a few years knocking about I started as a boss drover (trail boss) as I contracted to move cattle from place to place on the hoof, at times doing droving trips (trail drives) of up to a thousand miles, just as they did in the U.S. in the days of the wild west.

The trouble was that the twentieth century was catching up to us, as roads were being built so that trucks could get out to the stations and pick up cattle.

The trips that would take us months to cover the trucks could now do in a day or two, so as a result drovers like myself were out of work, so I had to give up the life and get a job in town in 1979, as a miner working underground, an era was over. This is what the poem Rusty Spurs is about.

 

When we asked Jack why he writes Cowboy Poetry, he replied:

Most Australian Ringers (Cowboys) had a love for what we call Bush Poetry. We used to recite poems around camp fires at night and when we rode around the cattle on night watch, so naturally I began to write some myself about the life we lived.

I think that cowboy poetry is important to keep our culture alive and it is a traditional way of explaining our life as cowboys. The lifestyle of the Australian cowboy was so similar to the American cowboy in my mind, even though the words we use my be different the cowboy is a cowboy the world over.  If it is not kept up future generations will lose a culture and history.

You can email Jack Sammon.

Visit Jack Sammon's web site.

 

Those Droving Days (CD)

Jack Sammon's 2006 CD, Those Droving Days, includes:

Those Droving Days
Rusty Spurs
After the Wet
Droving Memories
Visions of the Past
Edna
Looking Back
The Drovers Reunion

 Those Droving Days is available for $17 postpaid. Send U. S. orders c/o Sam Dawson
PO Box 387, Valley View, TX  76272.  There's additional order information at Jack Sammon's web site.


Looking Back

You’ve traveled down life’s busy highway,
As you followed a varied career,
And met with the good times and hardships,
Now the end of the road’s drawing near.
But you notice; as you get older,
When your thoughts take you back in the past,    
Those years that you worked as a stockman,
Just seem to hold memories that last.
 

When you think of times in a stock camp,
At the start of another new day,
The leaves in the trees gently stirring,
As the sky in the east turned to grey,
When high in the heavens above you,
The stars slowly blinked out of sight,
And Butcher birds started a chorus, 
As they welcomed the growing daylight.

Those mornings when horses were saddled,
As the sun climbed up over the rise,
And showed the vast plains in the distance, 
That were met by the vacant blue skies.
Or shone on those rugged red rangers,
To show you the scenery below,
Where rivers cut through the deep gorges, 
And the Carbean and Snappy Gum grow.

Remember the creak of the leather,
When you pulled up the slack of the girth,
The chime of the spur rowel and snaffle, 
And the scent of the fresh trodden earth. 
The days that you spent in the saddle.
With your hand lightly clutching the rein,
The sound of shod hooves striking gravel,
And the clink of a losoe hobble chain.

The feel of a horse underneath you,
On the face of a cutting out camp,
Or bronco horse straining the collar,
When you pulled up a calf to the ramp.
The thrill when you galloped through mulga,
Where you swung the wild cattle around,
The rush of adrenaline flowing,
When you pulled a scrub bull to the ground.

The times that you mustered up cattle,
From those Georgina channels out west.
The taste of the Cooper’s grey water,
Where the black swan and pelican nest.
The sound of young calves calling mothers,
In a stock yard when branding is done,
Or riding a weary horse homeward, 
‘Neath the rays of the red setting sun.

Or those friends you once worked with, 
You’ve not seen since the parting of ways,
In your mind you still see their faces,
In the dim light of a campfire’s blaze,
Where you all sat round telling stories,
When the evening shadows had fled,
With smoke from the camp fire curling,
Through the Coolabah boughs overhead.

And now, as you sit on the v’randa
Looking back to what life had once been,
The setbacks and triumphs it brought you,
The people and the places you’ve seen.
There are times you’ll always remember,
There are times that you’d like to forget,
But the time you spent in stock camp,
Was a time that you will never regret.

2004, Jack Sammon 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jack says: I got the idea for this poem one day when I saw a old stockman (cowboy) sitting on the veranda of his unit. He was staring out into space and I seemed to know that in his mind he was back in a stock camp (cow camp) again where he worked as a young man. I realised that here could be a old cowboy some where in the west of the U.S.A. or a old gaucho from the Pampas of Argentina. No matter where cowboys come from, they all have a love of the life they lived and no doubt that there is a little of myself in this poem. 

 

Jack Sammon was previously

one of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, The Drovers Reunion

The Drovers Reunion

There is a group of old time drovers, who gather every year,
to the little town of Camooweal they come from far and near,
where they join in with old droving mates who sit around the fire,
while in the evening sky above a big full moon climbs higher.

Of the countless men and women who went droving in the past
just this little group beside the fire now represents the last.
They only have their memories or a photograph to show
for those years of droving cattle where the western rivers flow.

When the lined and weathered faces of old friends from bygone days
are mixing with the dancing shadows of a fire's cheerful blaze,
old memories are rekindled and thoughts their go drifting back,
to the times they spent in droving camps out on the Wave Hill Track.

From their cracked and gravelled voices we hear the stories told,
of times when riding night watch around the cattle in the cold,
while forcing songs through shivering lips out on some lonely plain
to the sound of creaking saddletree and jingling hobble chain.

They speak of bringing mobs of cattle down the dusty Barkly route,
heading in towards the railheads from the stations further out,
or when droving down the Cooper, where they saw fat bullocks pass
wading knee deep through the clover and the waving Mitchell grass.

We hear them tell of how they battled to get the cattle through,
when the drought was on the country back in nineteen fifty two,
and of other years when they were met by chilly winter rains
when they had to plough through clinging mud across the black soil plains

And there's a hint of sentiment in a voice that's filled with pride
when someone starts to mention an old night horse he use to ride,
who would never balk or stumble through scrub on a storm lit night,
when the lightening flashed and timber crashed as cattle rushed in fright,

I wish I could have been there with them, back in their younger years,
droving down the river channels with twelve hundred head of steers,
or when taking turn on night watch coming through the Murranji,
where the south wind moans through lancewood scrubs and lonely curlews cry,

For they have seen the 'Vision Splendid' that poets wrote about,
when they rode the vast expanses of that country further out,
where many a night watch song was sung beneath those western stars,
to the rhythmic beat of horses feet and chime of snaffle bars.

2002, Jack Sammon  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


We asked Jack about his inspiration for this poem, and he replied: When I was a child growing up on  a cattle station (ranch) just south of Camooweal I would see cattle in the tens of thousands passing the homestead heading towards the railhead further south.  Bringing those cattle down were the drovers, I would see them, dusty bearded men, sitting loosely in the saddle a stock whip draped over an arm as the slowly moved along in the dust behind the cattle, they were my heroes.  Over fifty years later with the droving era now just a memory since the advent of road transport, I attended a drovers reunion in Camooweal, a little town with a population of around two hundred people situated in the far outback of Australia, where I met up with my childhood heroes once again, old men and women who sat around a campfire and swapped stories of their younger days. Meeting up with them and listening to the stories gave me the idea for the poem "The Drovers Reunion."


 

Jack Sammon was previously

one of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, Those Droving Days

 

Those Droving Days                                

Do your thoughts ever unfold to those days of old
 when cattle strung out on the plain,
as they slowly pass by with dust rising high
        can you see those old drovers again
or the ringers you knew from times long ago who
       had shared your campfire's blaze,
Do you ever ponder or allow thoughts to wander
       back to those droving days?

Have you awoke in a fright on a dark stormy night
       and your thoughts flash back through the years,
to those nights on the rout when the storms were about
      you rode around Territory steers.
Did your heart miss a beat when those steers hit their feet
      and rushed off camp with a roar?
With sounds of horns clashing and dry timber crashing
      you gallop round them once more.

Do you ever think back to that trip on The Track
     when you took stores into Marree,
across the dry desert land all covered with sand
     for as far as the eye could see?
When all was in drought with no grass on the route,
      you battled to get that mob through.
But you got them there with a few head to spare,
      by using the tricks that you knew.

And remember the days, when you rode in the haze
      of dust rising up from the plain,
or nights in a camp with a swag that was damp,
 You shivered in cold winter rain.
Do you still miss the sound as you camped on the ground,
 of horse bells on the night air
or the whispering breeze as it drifts through trees,
 at times you wish you were there?

Can you imagine again the tug of the rein
 As you race to steady the lead,
on a good horse beneath with the bit in his teeth
 that was well bred and built for speed,
or recall a bad colt that could buck and bolt
 when you tried to put up a ride?
All that actually hurt when you bounced off the dirt
 was mostly only your pride.

Now the years have rolled on and the drover has gone
 from those stock routes out in the west.
We've all settled down and got jobs in town
 with a mortgage and all of the rest.
Though it's often said that the life that we led
 was not what it's made out to be,
I know it was rough at times things were tough
 but the life that we led was free.

2000, Jack Sammon  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Glossary

Ringers - cowboy
Stores - young cattle that are for sale
Marree - a railhead town in South Australia
The Track - the famous desert road of four hundred miles between the towns
       of Birdsville and Marree.
Swag - bedroll


 

Photo by Jacqueline Curley, reproduced with permission.  
Visit Jacqueline Curley's web site for more images of the Outback

 

 

Jack Sammon was previously

one of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Second Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, After the Wet

 

Jack Sammon writes:

When I was a young stockman I, like other stockmen worked on cattle stations during the dry season of the year, living in stock camps out on the cattle runs. For three months when it was too wet and hot to be able to work cattle, the stock camps were shut down and the stockmen (Ringers) were paid off. Most of us would head south and got jobs in towns. Mostly we took jobs in mines working underground.

Although we all had intentions of giving the bush away and keep working as miners, with its high pay and short hours, as soon as the wet season was over the call of the cattle camps was usually too much and we would roll our swags (bed rolls) and head on out for another season.

 

After The Wet

While I'm working at the coal face deep down below the ground,
and hear timber cracking with a sharp and tortured sound,
I peer into the darkness through the cap lamp's feeble glow,
thinking of the stock camps on the stations I know.

Where grass is waving stirrup high out on the black soil plains,
and the creeks and gullies brimming full from the yearly rains.
for now the wet has ended on the stations in the north
and it's time for mustering camps to once again go forth.

There's a feeling of excitement and air is full of sounds
as station camps are starting out on their yearly rounds.
From the plains of Coorabulka to box scrubs on Loraine,
they're running in fresh horses to station yards again.

Gates and panels rattle as the horses are drafted out,
they're stirring up the dust and dirt as they mill about,
and horses that are fat and fresh will test the stockmen's skills,
but ringers look forward to the challenge and the thrills.

The camp cooks call the ringers when the morning star is bright
and they're saddled up and riding before the sky is light.
They're rounding up fat bullocks from the river on Nardoo
and running in big pikers from scrubs at Manbulloo.

Where branding fires are glowing in the yards at Eight Mile Camp,
they're pulling up big micks to the bronco-branding ramp,
mixing in with smoke and dust and the smell of scorching hair,
the sound of bawling cows and calves comes floating on the air.

The sound of stockwhips echo from scrubs on Inverleigh,
where along the Flinders River cattle still run free
And out there on The Barkley mirages shimmer on the plains
where on the air there's music of bells and hobble chains.

So when this shift is over and my cap lamp's in the rack,
I'll draw my pay and tell them I won't be coming back.
For I'll be heading up to Queensland's cattle camps once more,
to some outback station where I used to work before.

For stockmen are a nomadic lot who cannot settle down,
we have good intentions when we get a job in town.
But when the Wet's over and grass is high out on the plain,
we roll our swags and head out to stock camps once again.


2000, Jack Sammon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Drilling the roof in a mine, photo courtesy Jack Sammon
Drilling the roof in a mine

 

Jack Sammon provided some translations of words that might be unfamiliar:

A Gilgi is a small waterhole
A Bullock is a steer
A piker is a wild old steer
Ringer is slang for a cowboy
A cleanskin is an unbranded cow or calf

An Australian Cowboy (Ringer) photo by Jack Sammon
An Australian Cowboy (Ringer)

 

Rusty Spurs

There’s a pair of spurs hanging on a nail out in the shed
The straps are dry and cracking and the metal’s rusty red
My father gave them to me when he taught me how to ride
And well do I remember how I strapped them on with pride

Those spurs bring back the memories of the days of long ago
To the times of droving cattle, where the western rivers flow
My thoughts go back to riding night watch, with the stars shinning bright
As I ride around the cattle singing just beyond the fire light

We lived for months away from home out on the great stock route
As we walked the cattle slowly in from the stations further out
Days were long and life was hard, but the saddle was our throne
For we were Kings of our domain and answered to ourselves alone

But we didn’t feel the winds of change blowing out our way so fast
Soon the drover and his plant would be a memory from the past
For contractors with there big machines were building roads of tar
As they pushed there way across the plains they made a vivid scar

Now the trucks, in the wet or dry, could tackle those outback roads
By night and day they rattled out to pick up the bovine loads
Yes the drover’s days were numbered as the trucks came out our way
As the trip that took us months to do, they now could travel in a day

Although we tried to struggle on, the trucks were here to stay
In the end, like other drovers, I had to give the game away
So I sold my plant and horses for anything I could
Caught a train that headed south and left the droving life for good

I’ve settled down in town and hung those spurs up in the shed
And now I wear a miner’s lamp, working underground instead
But at times when I see those spurs, my mind goes drifting back
To the days of droving cattle out on the Wave Hill Track.

1999, Jack Sammon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Bronco branding ramp, photo courtesy Jack Sammon
Bronco branding ramp

 

Droving Memories

As I’m sitting on my veranda in the moonlight’s silver glow,
My thoughts go back to droving on the stock routes years ago.
To the times when we were riding round cattle in the night,
We rode around them singing in that same moon’s eerie light.

Through drifting thoughts I see cattle sleeping
   In a circle on the ground.
I can almost feel the night horse moving,
   As we slowly plod around
To the creaking sound of leather
   And horse bells on the plain
I imagine we are riding night watch
   In those droving camps again

But I guess I must be getting senile or kind’ a simple in the head,
To forget what the days of droving cattle was really like instead.
The times of riding night watch as we plodded through the rain,
And how that cold wind blew around us out on the Rankin plain.

Remember? with those Bulls Heads,
  Coming through the Murranji.
When the lightning lit the heavens,
  And danced across the sky.
How we charged through tangled timber,
When cattle rushed it fright.
I don’t seem to recollect,
  If there was a shining moon that night

And there was that night out on the Barkley that I never will forget
Standing shivering by the fire because my swag was sopping wet
When the winter rains came over and soaked every thing in camp
We rode in sodden saddles and our clothes were cold and damp

I’ve just recalled the trip we did
  With a mob from VRD
It was a trip I should never forget
  And feel sure we’d all agree
The drover’s cook who we had with us
  Was the worst we’d ever seen?
When he dished up soggy damper
  And beef that had turned green

The year I took a mob to Tanbar when the country was in drought
That was when I began to learn what droving was really all about
When the stock routs were a bowl of dust and waterholes near dry
We nursed those starving cows along and watched the weak ones die

Yes the drover’s life was rough and hard,
   Out in the dust and rain
But although we all complained a lot,
    I bet I’d do it all again
And I would not swap the memories,
    Of those droving days of old
For a yacht and great big mansion,
    Or a bag of shining gold.

2000, Jack Sammon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


We asked Jack what "soggy damper" was, and he replied: "Damper is what you would call something like biscuits, it is a type of soda bread and when it is soggy it means that it is not cooked in the middle. We use to say that it had a mud spring in it."

 


The Wet

The river is flooding where the road should be
As it spreads out over the plain,
When the clouds roll in from the northern sea
  It’s the time when we get our rain.

For days the clouds have covered the sun
In millions the sandflies swarm.
As we flounder in mud on the cattle run,
  Each night there’s another storm.

‘Though the country’s boggy and grass is high
Old mate! Could you ever forget?
How we carted water when the tanks were dry
And how we prayed for an early wet

How we mortgaged the place to buy more feed
We’d save the herd or bust.
For the hot winds blew with a miser’s greed
Till the run was a bowl of dust.

Many had said, “ Let the breeders die
  They’re not worth a bail of hay”
Now the sale yard prices have jumped sky high
  And the station’s begun to pay.

All those staggering “hides” we fed on hay
  Are now rolling fat and sleek.
The stock horses loaf in the shade all day
  On the ridge by the homestead creek.

And a week ago when we went to town
(Through water and bog by the mile)
Instead of short words and a heavy frown,
I saw the bank manager smile.

2000, Jack Sammon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


On a recent visit to the little border town of Camooweal I called to see a old drover friend who I had not seen for years, now retired after working as a drover for over fifty years.  We sat out on his veranda and talked of the days when the droving industry was at it's hight, when tens of thousands of cattle walked down the stock routes every year and we talked of the men who drove them, most who now have passed on.   As we talked memories came back to me of a trip I took with my father when I was about ten or eleven, he and a cattle buyer called Jack West took me out along Barkley and Wave Hill stock routes inspecting cattle that were for sale. At night we often camped with the drovers that were walking cattle down the stock routes, many of whom are mentioned in this poem.

Visions Of The Past

I stopped to pay a visit, as the sun was going down,
To a friend now living in a little border town.
The last of the old time drovers; Pic Willetts is his name,
Who for over fifty years had followed the droving game.

While sitting on his v'randa 'midst old and dusty packs,
That hung there with his camp gear and saddles on the racks,
Old Pick was telling stories of the days that have gone by,
When he was droving big store bullocks through the Murranji.

When we were reminiscing at the closing of the day,
Sights and sounds of the town just to seemed fade away,
I pictured mobs of cattle walking down the dusty tracks
And those long forgotten drovers with wagonettes and packs.

As we talked of those old drovers and men we used to know,
Who had worked out on the stock routes all those years ago,
I imagine I hear the sound of horse bells once again,
As the visions of those drovers appeared out on the plain.

Out on the Barkley stock route was Jack Britt and Old Jack Gill
Behind a mob of bullocks they brought in from Wave Hill,
There're followed by Bill Cousins with twelve hundred 0 5 0's
And Norman Stacy with a mob from where the Wickim flows.

Tom Lewis is at Wendy, he's been quarantined a week,
Ben Benson with the Alroy's is camped near Moonah Creek,
Jack Carroll with the VTC's is nearing Lake Nash dip,
And George Man Fong with Newcastle's has started on his trip.

Walter Cowen with the Rockland's is on the road again,
Mick Horne is in Dajarra loading Helen's on the train,
Ray Turner with his chooks and goats is near the Rankine Store
And Sid Howard with the Creswell's is passing Pidgin Bore.

The Bulls Heads are nearing Walgra, Doug Scobbie's in the lead
With Eric Rankine close behind, holding back on feed.
Mick Bonning is at the 'Dangi and Pedwell's at Brunette
And Jackson's still at Avon he's not started his mob yet.

There was Keith O'Keefe, Jack Laffin and also Luke McCall
As well as many others whose names I can't recall.
Those faces pass before me as evening the shadows dance,
While sitting on the veranda, completely in a trance

But thoughts were interrupted by the sound out on the road,
As one of Cleary's transports with high and swaying load,
Came rattling in with cattle from across the Barkley plain,
Where those old forgotten drovers will never ride again.

2001, Jack Sammon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Murranji  Name of thick scrubland that the stock route went through.
Ought 5 0  The cattle brand of Ord River Station 050
VTC  The Rocklands Station Northern Territory cattle brand
Helen's  Helen Springs station
Chooks Chickens
Bulls Head  The cattle brand of Victoria River Downs Station
The 'Dangi  The township of Urandangi

 

Edna Zigenbine

In nineteen fifty a drover called Harry Zigenbine had a contract to take fifteen hundred steers from a cattle station called Bedford Downs that was situated in the Kimberley's of Western Australia, walking them to the railhead town of Dajarra in Western Queensland, a trip of around a thousand miles.

In the process of taking charge of the cattle Harry became very ill and could not carry on so he handed the responsibility of getting the cattle to Dajarra over to his twenty one year old daughter called Edna.

Edna took charge of the cattle and with three aboriginal stockmen carried on, finally delivering the cattle to the railhead six months later with out any losses, in the process making a name for herself as a first class boss drover and becoming a living legend.



Edna Zigenbine

When Edna got the message she was working in the town
She'd grown up in the bush and hoped to settle down,
But her father had an accident, droving on the track
And needed her to take his place until he could get back.
Now stock routes were a man's domain in nineteen fifty two
And having women in charge of stock; a thing they didn't do.
But Edna new the droving game and didn't have a doubt,
She took those fifteen hundred steers and started on the route.

With a team of native stockmen and pack horse plant behind,
She headed of to Queensland, when permits were all signed.
Over dry and barren plains and rangers rough and red
A thousand long and lonely miles extended out ahead.
With eyes bloodshot and weary, she watched the mob go by
In choking dust that billowed up into a cloudless sky,
Her thoughts were of the trip ahead and challenges she'd face
And hoped she would be good enough to take her father's place.

As they crossed the Jump Up she scanned the brooding sky
And prayed to God it wouldn't rain while in the Murranji,
For drovers dread the Murranji when storms come rolling in
When cattle rush off camp at night to thunder's deafening din.
There's many who have met their match in scrublands dense and black
So Edna didn't take a chance while on that dreaded track.
And she hurried past lonely graves where several men have died
In those somber Lancewood scrubs that clung to the track beside.

When they got out on the Barkley where miles drag slowly past
The plains spread out before her and steers were quiet at last
But she couldn't take things easy, they still had miles to go
And the plains still hold dangers as all the drovers know,
She worried if there's water at the windmills up ahead,
Or maybe she should have taken another track instead.
As she nursed the lame and lagged that struggled on behind,
She did her best to feed them with what grass that she could find.

She saw the white horns glisten in the pale moon's eerie light,
As she took her turn on night watch when all was still and quiet,
While singing to the cattle as she slowly rode around,
To the sound of creaking leather and hoof beats on the ground.
Lonely curlews joined in chorus with their haunting cry.
While the cross turned slowly over in the southern sky,
When all was bathed in darkness save the fire's ruddy glow,
She allowed her thoughts to wander while riding to and fro.

It took her almost half a year to bring those cattle down,
Along the dusty stock route to that little railway town
When the trip was over she put the cattle on the train,
Then she turned around and headed straight back out again.
There were other mobs of cattle to bring in from the west,
And Edna is now a drover, as good as all the rest,
Before days of woman's lib and that sort of thing began
She proved that she could do a job as well as any man.

When Edna took her father's place, he was filled with pride,
He taught her well in ways of stock and taught her how to ride
But Edna didn't want his praise she just had a job to do,
To help him out when he was ill and get the cattle through.
'Though she's proud of her achievement, no one would ever know,
She doesn't talk about herself or let her feelings show.
So I'll dedicate these lines of verse to a friend of mine,
A woman of the outback-- Edna Zigenbine.

2002, Jack Sammon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Edna Francis Jessop
1926-2007


Edna Zigbenbine died September 15, 2007, and Jack Sammon shared his comments from her funeral:

Edna was born in Thargominda ( a small town in far west Queensland. population about 200) on the 10th Oct 1926, fifth 5th child to Harry and Ruby Zigenbine. As Harry was a drover, Edna, along with her 7 siblings, was raised on the stock routes ( cattle trails) of North Australia.

It was a hard life, but Edna often spoke with fondness of her childhood days. She liked the freedom of the bush, her only regret was that she never attended a school and had to teach herself to read and write in later life. During the war years she worked with her father, droving cattle down from the north of Australia at a time when the north was under threat of invasion from the Japanese. Quite a few places in the north were bombed regularly,

In 1950, Edna captured the imagination of Australians when she took charge of 1500 Bedford Downs bullocks (steers) and walked them to the rail head at Dajarra a trip of around 1000 miles She made history as the first woman to become a BOSS DROVER.

Edna was wooed by many but it was drover Johnny Jessop who captured her heart, they were married in 1954 and carried on droving until 1960.

In 1960 Edna and John parted ways and she moved to the town of Mt. Isa where she spent the rest of her life and continued to work with stock as the pound keeper for the Mt. Isa city council as well as working for the Mt. Isa Rodeo mustering stock from the arena and collecting kicking straps. Edna was also a familiar face at the Camooweal drovers festival each year.

Edna's door was always open and anyone who was down on their luck and stony broke could always get a feed and have somewhere to throw down there swage (bed roll).

Edna was a beautiful person who everyone loved. She was very open and straight talking she called a spade a spade. But, always ready with a cuppa tea and a warm welcome.

This was the poem that she asked to be read at her gravesite:

When I come to the end of the road and the sun has set for me
  I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
     Why cry for a soul set free

Miss me a little, but not too long and not with your head bowed low
   Remember the love that we once shared
      Miss me but let me go

For this is the journey that we must all take and each must go it alone
   It's all part of the Masters plan
    A step on the road to home

When you're lonely and sick at heart
   Go to the friends we know
Laugh at the things we use to do
  Miss me but let me go.

 
Author unknown

 

Read Jack Sammon's account of his ringer life and his family's life in the outback in our Western Memories collection.

 

The camp cook, photo by Jack Sammon
The Camp Cook


 

 

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