THE OUTBACK SAILOR

© David Judge

Winner Humorous Section, 2021 Oracles of the Bush, Tenterfield, NSW.

When Jimmy got the message which he found hard to believe,
he was the last selected for the crew.
The ship was in the harbour and in two days it would leave,
depending on the way the breezes blew.
The ship was called the Bounty as a tribute to the past,
with massive sails and rigging and a crow’s nest up the mast.

Now Jimmy was an outback boy as rugged as could be,
his sailing days were on the River Todd.
Responding to an advert for a daytrip out to sea, 
he thought, there is no way I’ll get the nod.
The advert sought out sailors who had won a race or two,
so Jimmy wrote, I’ve won the Todd, not once but quite a few.

Young Jimmy was a stockman on a station born and bred,
they said there’s not a beast he cannot ride.
They sent him to the Alice to try riding waves instead,
with books on sailing lessons as a guide.
When Jimmy built his vessel for the purpose it was meant,
he knew to sail the Todd would be a dry-as-hell event.

Our Jimmy showed his expertise for sailing on the sand,
he won that famous race from year to year.
The only waves he ever saw came from his mother’s hand,
the prize a wooden trophy and some beer.
A legend in his lifetime he had won all he could win
and ended up in Sydney where real sailing would begin.

The flight to Sydney was his first to ride an aeroplane,
he hung on tight and sat without a sound.
And when he saw the Harbour he said, Gee! you’ve had some rain,
ya better get ya stock to higher ground.

When Jimmy saw the wooden boat, he said is that the Ark?
which raised the skipper’s eyebrows when he heard that strange remark.

He’d never seen so many ships as high as Uluru,
he’d only sailed in small boats made of tin.
But as a ship from P&O came slowly into view,
he said, is this the Dreamtime that I’m in?
And as the other crew arrived in t-shirts and in shorts,
his moleskins and his riding boots made Jim feel out of sorts.

And when he told them who he was and where he’d learnt to sail,
the crew agreed to help him see it through.
They were so full of envy and in awe of Jimmy’s tale,
what is there that this cowboy cannot do?
And as the Bounty left the wharf and sailed out past North Head,
young Jimmy stood behind the wheel to chart the course ahead.

He saw the vast expanses of the ocean and its waves,
far greater than the mighty Todd in flood.
The ocean rose above the mast creating liquid caves,
descending on the Bounty with a thud.
Across that wild and woolly sea the ship would buck and toss,
the Bounty unlike any bronc he’d ever come across.

The crew began adjusting sails with calming of the seas
and needed one good sailor up the mast.
Our Jimmy from the inland said, it’s just like climbin’ trees,
which left the crew and skipper more aghast.
And after he’d been up and down in no more than a tic,
he said he saw a barra and it looked like Moby Dick.

The Bounty sailed along the coast with Jimmy at the stern,
he was a valued member of the crew.
They got as far as Harrington from where they would return
and sail back through the Heads as these trips do.
They anchored for a barbeque on Sydney Harbour lake,
forget the fish! our Jimmy said, I’ll have a T-bone steak!

When Jimmy got to Alice Springs after the trip was done,
the station stockmen asked him how it went.
He started with the size of things, how barra weighed a ton,
the Opera House a hundred metre tent.
He said how poor the people were, with very little land,
nowhere to graze their cattle which was hard to understand.

He spoke on local radio to tell of what he saw,
if anything was, handy for back here.
With hands on head he thought a bit, then thought a bit some more,
until he said, I’ve got a great idea!
How ‘bout we make a copy of that Bridge across their lake
and build it over Uluru for all those climbers’ sake.


Responses were immediate with angry comments made,
not knowing it was Jimmy’s cheeky way.
They spoke about the cultural harm, others said  the shade,
would ruin all those colours of the day.

So Jimmy ditched his claim to fame, a path that he had trod,
but year on year he still returns to sail the mighty Todd.


---

RETURN TO AWARD WINNING POETRY INDEX