The Bullock Team
Old Dingo Dan was a giant of a man,
He’d been driving bullock teams for years,
Bullocks were his life o’er a fifty-year span
And his reliability was never once in arrears.
The wool was now ready at the station wool-shed
When Dan arrived with his big bullock team,
With the country in drought and many stock dead,
The thought of green grass was now only a dream.
It was sixty odd miles to the nearest rail-link
And it was usual to take the hard river road,
The shorter desert track made Dan stop and think,
Yes, he could arrive a day ahead with his load.
Only one worry that the big man might entail
Was a water hole at the half distant mark,
He said to himself, with my team I can’t fail,
I’ll be able to give them a drink ‘fore it’s dark.
Drought was the cause of water holes running dry,
Most were sucked dry by the sun’s furnace breath,
Nothing could survive ‘neath that scorching hot sky
For without water the answer was death.
The first evening out they arrived at their camp
Where there was plenty to drink for them all,
An early morning start while the air was still damp
And man and bullocks faced a weary days haul.
Tightening their chains with a slow measured tread
After the nights drink, a feed and a spell,
The sun burning bright, they faced the long pull ahead
As they started out on that pathway to hell.
The day it grew hotter but the team kept its pace,
It was soon one hundred and ten in the shade,
After a two- hour stop at a quiet shady place
It was then the second stage starting was made.
Dan thought of the water at the next evenings prop,
He said tonight they’ll be chewing their cud
But at last on reaching the next evenings stop,
All that Dingo Dan could see was the mud.
Dan realized now that his judgment was at fault
And wondered what he could do for the best,
He knew there’d be water at the next evenings halt
But before then lay the sandy hill’s crest.
Dan now unyoked his much-wearied team,
The bullocks were all bawling out for a drink,
A spell would be the best move it would seem
Until the evening stars all came out to blink.
The next morning found them all pulling still
And then at midday he gave them a spell,
They’d moaned a complaint at the last sandy hill
And shortly after the first bullock fell.
Burnt dry with the sun and tortured by thirst,
The bullocks efforts were now almost in vain,
Dan knew their strength would have to be nursed
Before any chance of them moving again.
Unyoking the bullocks, he tied them in the shade,
A real relief from the burning blue sky,
Dan went to the water bag a last drink to be made
But in the searing heat the bag was now dry.
As he lay in the shade his thoughts wandered back
And he silently cursed himself for a fool,
He should have taken the hard river track,
A sure supply of water was the one golden rule.
The sun was now sinking quite low in the west
When he inspanned for that last final pull,
He spoke to the leaders and then to the rest
And said with God’s help we’ll deliver the wool.
To Dan, thoughts of failure surely must stop,
The team pulled as one as they tightened the chain,
A hundred yards now and they’d be over the top,
Dan hoped their efforts would not be in vain.
Slowly, ever slowly, the hill top to greet
Ever slowly did those wagon wheels turn,
The sand giving way ‘neath the team’s straining feet,
Oh, for the hard river track did Dingo Dan yearn.
The oxen all pulled with little strength left in store
While all were tortured with a terrible thirst
And Dan prayed aloud to God as he swore,
And he cracked that great whip as he cursed.
Then slowly ever slowly as the daylight grew dim
The load of wool was pulled over the top,
Dan called a halt to his staunch bullock team,
He reckoned they deserved a ten minute stop.
Two mile now to go to a sure water hole,
The bullocks trudged on to the oncoming night,
Dan’s prayer was answered, now in sight of his goal,
His worries now fading with the fast fading light.