This poem, by Gerald P. Blore, highlights the strong agricultural connection to the land. He talks about the characters, community and environment that make the Corner Country of NSW home and his feelings about National Parks. It was published in Christine Adams’ book, Way Out West.
“And now, up there, in our home town, if you should venture in, and expect to meet your old mates, with a hand-shake and a grin.
Instead of sunburnt bushmen, all talking around the bars, there’s Park Rangers driving everywhere, with badges on their cars.”
I’d been away down south for years, and I could hardly wait, to get back to my homeland; in the corner of the state.
I’d hear many stories; it was hard to understand, National Parks had moved in, and now owned all the land.
I just sat thinking of that land, with its cattle and its sheep, and while I sat there thinking, I must have gone to sleep.
With the thoughts that I was thinking, I must have had a dream, because I saw Jack Maynard, with his wagon and his team.
I saw Mrs. Bonnett as Milparinka, then somewhere up the track, I met Mad Ross with his old blue dog, and his swag upon his back.
Then I was at Waratta, and of course I was a kid, with brothers, sister, Mum and Dad, and all the things we did.
I went to get the milking cows, I could clearly hear the bell, when I met Edgar Jackson, who came up from Sandy Well.
And then I met Claude Kidman, as I rode down Mokley Creek; with a mob of fats from Nary; he’d been on the road a week.
I sat astride mu horse awhile, and watched them slowly pass; broad hipped beauties, quietly feeding, on knee-high Mitchell Grass.
It was somewhere near to Stubberfields, that I met Schneider Brown. He was mustering the station sheep, to shear at Olive Downs.
Five thousand ewes with lambs at foot, they had a drover’s spread, and were heading for the station yards, down at the shearing shed.
They were fully woolled and healthy; the grass was green and tall. There were lots of chaps with Schnider, whose names I can’t recall.
And then I met Bill Robinson; he was making his way down, with tons of wool he’d picked up, as he came past Olive Downs.
Then I was back at Mt. Wood, T’was a fascinating thing. My old mates were there to greet me, with shearing in full swing.
I met Lol Spinks with a mob of sheep, down near the Gidgee Gate. Jack Angell was the teamster; Roy Toohey was his mate.
Colin Caldwell was there with us; I could see him plain and clear. Paddy Winkles was the cow-boy; Berney Crouch was over-seer.
Jack Dorwood was the manager; he was held in high regards. And Mrs Dorwood spoke to me, as I walked down to the yard.
As we rode from Two Mile, there was dust-clouds up the road. T’was George Betts for a load of wool, we gave him a hand to load.
When we were in the drifting yards, neighbours came from all around, Vic Nicholls from Pindera; Walt Cope from Clifton Downs.
There was Peter from Connulpie. I know him by his foot; Jim O’Conner from Narriearra, out on the Twelve Mile Creek.
I walked along the shearing board; there were many men about the shed, I picked out Percy Smith and Tiger Harris and Percey’s brother, Ted.
Then I walked along some more, and had another look. I recognised Tom Gaiter, Con Forster and Jack Cook.
Then that night in the station hut, as we sat playing cards, the long day’s work had ended, and the sheep were in the yards.
I listened for a moment, and could Clearly hear the bleat; there was a night horse in the stable; there were horse bulls in the creek.
Then I was at Whittabrinnah; that was the family home. I helped Spence Amos build it; I handled every stone.
I saw my mother in the kitchen; everything there seemed so real, as we all sat around the table, to enjoy our evening meal.
I was there in Tobooburra; all seemed so bright and gay, for folks had come from miles around; it was Country Women’s Day.
I saw Archie Thompson and Neil Wheeler, and Grant Caldwell too I think; as they walked towards Bert Davies, no doubt to have a drink.
Barney Tucker and Dick Barlow, said ‘Good Day’ and then walked on, as I stood talking to Jim Huxley, and my brother, John.
Harry Blore and Teddy Kuerschner, sat on the hotel seat, I saw Herb Davies and my father, as they walked along the street.
Mrs Wheeler and Mrs Nicholls, with Mrs. Newland neat and small, spoke to me and then walked on, to the Country Women’s Hall.
There was many an old-timer there; they came from near and far; Walter Kennewell from Waka; Alf Redpath and Jack Carr.
The town was full of bushmen; I mention but a few; there were fencers and tank-sinkers, and drovers passing through.
I’m not sure just where I was, when someone really spoke. My dream came to a sudden end. It was then that I awoke.
I made a trip back back to my home. The tales I heard were true. The National Parks own all the land. There’s none left for me or you.
They’ve pulled down all the station huts. There’s no sheep around to bleat. There’s no horse in the stable. There’s no horse bells down the creek.
There’s no cattle on the run today; no sheep or lambing ewes. The saltbush and Mitchell Grass, is left for kangaroos.
There’s no one works the run today; there’s not one station-hand. The National Parks have made it, an empty, silent land.
And now, up there, in our home town, if you should venture in, and expect to meet your old mates, with a hand-shake and a grin.
Instead of sunburnt bushmen, all talking around the bars, there’s Park Rangers driving everywhere, with badges on their cars.
They’ve got badges on their shirtsleeves, and badges on their hats. They tell us with authority, that you can’t do this or that.
It’s pretty tough when they tell us Blokes, who were brought up on this Land, that they now own the country, and that they are in command.
My thoughts then turned to our home Run, and the life that we all made. The trees that my family planted, are now someone else’s shade.
That land had been in our name, for sixty years or so. My wish was to be buried there, when my time came to go.
My grave will not be there now; I’ve been told and understand, National Parks now own it; I’m not wanted in that land.
The folks I mentioned in my dream, I’m sad to say are gone. I fancy it’s a blessing, that they have all passed on.
If they came back, they’d do stone mad. They would never understand, how the National Parks acquired it all; Our dear beloved land.
Note (by Christine Adams):
Graziers’ attitude towards National parks softened in latter years. Gerald Blore developed a congenial relationship with National Park management and rangers; he appreciated their effort to retain the history of the Corner Country.
Ken Thompson appointed National Parks the custodian of his entire Mt Stuart collection, thus displaying his confidence in the Service.