Jonathan Hawkins-Clarke

On the Road
I was on my move through outback’s deep and pleasant charm,
making my way north, earning my board and keep, as on the farm.
Reaching, on this leg of my rove, the town of Tarlee
where job as roustabout / baler my lot to earn my fee.

Hard yakka of work it was, full-on each day, but easy for my youth,
working with the shearing gang, a hard lot, even a little uncouth.
But, solid workers, earning their lot shearing all the sheep
with little damage to the beasts, in their speed, money to reap.

Each day a long and steady slog, breaks short, dawns to dusks
but tucker great with a good cook, with fresh bread, no rusks.
Hard, hot, dusty work being a roustabout – baler,
shifting and carting and loading bales to the trailer.

This was in the days, long past, of rosy hue expressed,
when our wool press was hand loaded and hand pressed. 
Not like the easy work, with electric press,
to save on strain on muscles, making a mess.

Yard manager organised in a half dozen large stout
lest from the work we would pub run on a rout. 
Keeping us safe, on property, for the next day,
when we would be ready, on post, our work to play.

Not used to grog, not to look a weakling, I took my share,
watered-down, and, one, enough to send me to my lair
where I listened to the 5 o’clock wireless shows lead
and, cleaned up, ready for 6 o’clock, the next good feed.

Work being hard, accidents happened, and workers changed,
leading to new assignments as men experience gained. 
A new stockman, then, to the crew was joined
and, alas, from this time, our fate was purloined.

The cook, a lass ‘tis true, fell in a big way
for the lout, as if his looks good sway.
The cooking, from noteworthy to good, was shot
as lumpy scrapings and messes became our lot.

I kept my mind to the tasks at hand
as so many others across the land.
Not more than grumbling to the pain of muscles sore,
although, the truth, this food, truly rankled more.

Finally, the mob was done, dusted and goaded.
The final bale pressed, stacked and loaded.
Our wages worked out, wage packets made, and duly paid.
My swag and gear packed and to the road my way I made.

A way of learning and appreciating this land
which sat so ready and willing at hand.
I loved travelling South Australia’s land so wide,
learning from all the people through the countryside.

Jonathan Hawkins-Clarke   copyright 14/8/2020

Author’s Note: from a recount by Peter Adams 



A Crumbling View

Solid and neat it sat at the base of the hill as it climbs
Steepening to trap the slow vehicle in speed declines.

Red and clear in fixed form with doors closed
Only an occasional weed vision interposed.

Each trip back home by motorised steed
Gave a view of this structure left indeed.

Year on year, the view changed in form
As the colour faded form was left forlorn.

Red through rust to brown and grey
Colours and form through times delay.

Slowly the shape from rectangular shape
As structure sagged and timbers drape.

Then the internal form did reach its last
And walls and roof were downward cast.

Each pass was a time lapse motion’s push
Of a proud railway carriage’s turn to mush.

Jonathan Hawkins-Clarke   copyright 9/6/2020

Author’s Note: RRRs exercise to write about a crumbling view 


rusty old, whit and read railway carriage