“The conservationist”

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. 

THE CONSERVATIONIST

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.

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Filed under Australian landscape's 'character', Interviews, People and the environment, Rangelands (Fowlers Gap)

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