Peter Bevan, a member of the Fowlers Gap Graziers Committee, spent his life working on the 75,000 Ha Sturts Meadows sheep station 88 kilometres north of Broken Hill. Recently retired, he and his wife Mary have moved into town and left their son and daughter in law, Randall and Josephine, to run the property.
While visiting Peter and Mary in Broken Hill, Peter gave me a copy of this poem. I was asking about the relationship between ‘conservationists’ and land owners and this, it seems, is one playful take on the situation.
If anything, it underlines the importance of considering every opinion. All those I spoke with were connected to the land, but in different ways and with varying priorities. I think sharing knowledge, like this, will help bridge gaps that exist between interest groups.
As the poem suggests, the solution doesn’t lie the Turramurra man’s pointing of fingers… We need to look at the big picture. Stay ‘tuned’ for posts exploring these different voices (scientists, land owners and managers, director of Fowlers Gap, Broken Hill Council) in the coming month.
In a sprawling western region, that’s called the Country Finch
Lives an old time western grazier, by the name of Billy Glinch
He is roughly equidistant, from Goodooga and the Ridge
Along the Narran River, quite near the Bangate Bridge
To his outback domicile, one day in mid July
Came a bearded, glassed intruder, with a sickly looking smile.
His car was such a sight, as Bill had hardly seen
G.T. stripes, chrome all round, iridescent green
He said he was the chairman, of a conservation club
Told how they met each Thursday, in a Turramurra Pub
With modest understatement, said he’d saved a whale or two
And his mission now, God willing, to stop extinction of the “roo”.
“By George”, said Bill, “you’re just the man, I’ve hankered for to meet
I try to keep the odd one going, out here in the heat
You know there’s near four million of you, down there by the sea
If you’d all take just one kangaroo, it would be the very Pea
The kangaroos all lived down there, when Australia was a pup
I’ll send you down my culls next year, we’ll breed the beggars up”.
Now Billy was a prankster, as his neighbours will attest
For they’ve often been a victim of his morbid sense of jest
The roos were there in millions, a lying out of sight
Waiting for their dinner-time, which is the dark of night
Bill thought the odds were even, if he kept him as a guest
Until the daylight disappeared, the roos would do the rest.
So he talked of conservation, till the moon was in the sky
And the Man from Turramurra, said he’d really have to fly
The track was fileld with rock and scrub, a traverse to be feared
(Last time the council did the road the grader disappeared)
The roos were big and built like bears, suicidal too,
A Sherman Tank was no defence from a South-Goodooga Blue.
Sun-up on the morrow, found old Billy out in the lorry
T’was just a mile or two before he came upon his quarry,
A hulk of twisted metal, a crumbled heap of green
Four dead roos on the roadside, the biggest Bill had seen
Amid the fur and chrome and shambles, of this devastating scene
Sat the Man from Turramurra, with his gills a sickly green.
Bill said, “You blokes from Sydney Town, by George I think you’re find
A family here you’ve gone and killed, God help you if they’re mine”
He let himself be mollified, by a wallet full of notes
While secretly assessing, the value of the costs
“I’ll send a tow-truck out, and I think you’d better head
Or the kangaroos you’re saving will all the bloody dead”.
Now down in Turramurra, ‘neath a leafy Laurel tree
The Conservationist sits in exquisite agony
He writes to all the papers now, and tells the folks to act
About the brooding menace, that is breeding up outback
And when he hears the sounds of brakes, he starts in deadly fear
And wonders If Old Billy will send cull kangaroos this year.