THE PYRENEES – A SESQUICENTENNIAL ODE
© Carol Reffold
Winner, Avoca 'Pyrenees' Bush Poetry Competition, Avoca, Victoria.
Many changes have occurred since the Djadja Wurrung clan
Lived here abouts in the Dream time, before the white man’s plan.
Yes, white man came and with him towns, and railway lines and such
A huge leap from a pristine land bereft of human touch.
When Tom Mitchell explored down South he saw those wondrous tors
Which ran down South from the Great Range. He took a lengthy pause,
Named the area “Pyrenees”, after the ones ‘back home’.
And called the river “Avoca”, noticed the deep rich loam.
Then wrote back to folk in Sydney of the richness of his find
And back in eighteen thirty four this land started being mined,
Both by squatters and prospectors, all in search of a new life
Where independence was the goal (and staying out of strife!).
Using wheel ruts marked by Mitchell, some Sydney folk came south,
And squatted on rich Western Plains. At first, was ‘hand to mouth’,
But years passed by, there were good years, and soon, they realised
The opportunities they had were to be richly prized.
The best wheat in the countryside, the best wool in the land
The finest greens, the best forests, ‘twas better than they planned,
And then, in eighteen fifty three, gold was found in those parts
And many people flooded in. With many different arts,
And crafts required to make a town it wasn’t long before
Some folk who’d come to mine for gold knew that they’d make much more
If they went back to trades they learned, as butcher, or as baker,
As tailors, blacksmiths, glass-blowers, even candle maker,
And some, not talked about so much, like ladies of the night
A necessary service then, though not considered ‘right’.
Though this was in the long ago, before the age of sewers
Before the vineyards were put in, long before the brewers!
And now, the Pyrenees we know – a jewel in Nature’s crown,
The hills, the dales, the sweet ‘soul food’, the country or each town,
The food, the drinks, the atmosphere, the feeling of ‘she’s right’
Another sesquicentury on – we’ll trust the future’s bright!