© Terry Piggott
Winner, 2016 Themed Section ‘Down Memory Lane’. Oracles of the Bush, Tenterfield, NSW.
Remember now those days of gold,
the frosty nights, the bitter cold;
a roaring fire to beat the chill;
that old bush camp near Tin Dog hill.
Bright stars that shone in clear night skies;
the chilling howls of wild dog cries
and how we yarned each night till late,
the billy on – remember mate?
Detectors then were something new
and we were there among the few
who dared to risk near all we had,
ignoring friends who thought us mad.
But luck was soon to play its part
with nuggets found right from the start;
excitedly we’d check each weight
around the fire – remember mate?
The south east wind blew cold in June
and blew most days till well past noon,
though dreams of wealth out there back then
would warm the hearts of us young men.
We’d follow every ancient track
that wound through hills somewhere outback
and looked for signs to indicate
that gold was near – remember mate?
Some warmth at last and hearts would sing,
beneath clear skies each goldfields spring;
the country seemed to come alive
and all around once more would thrive.
We’d move our camp from place to place
all through those miles of endless space;
we loved it there, and life was great
long, long ago – remember mate?
But once the summer had returned
each gram of gold had to be earned,
for with it came the dust and flies
that zeroed in on red rimmed eyes.
Relief was found as heat would soar
with bucket baths at Bluey’s Bore
and with the moon we’d concentrate
on work at night – remember mate?
With heat haze rising all around
mirages flooded sun baked ground,
where hills seemed islands now set free
to drift upon an inland sea.
Dust devils weaved liked drunken men
at first one-way then back again
and searing heat would not abate,
till late at night – remember mate?
Though life was hard you’d have to say,
I doubt we’d change a single day,
for once that country casts its spell
it captures hearts as we know well.
And though those days are now long past,
some memories will always last
of days of gold; of luck and fate –
and life out bush – remember mate?