© Terry Piggott

Winner, 2017 The Dusty Swag Award, Protarlington, Victoria.

Where the bare hills rise to greet you and a few gums line the creeks,
there’s a lonely hut abandoned here below the highest peaks.
Yet there’s history embedded in its crumbling rough stone walls,
where the heat seems never ending and a cool change seldom calls.

You may camp here if you’re passing and can view the starry sky,
for the roof has long since gone now and the water tanks are dry.
You can feel the past around you, though there’s little left to see,
yet it hangs there in the silence of this home that used to be.

Sagging fence posts are still standing though the rest has disappeared
and the bush has taken over any land they may have cleared.
Dead and dying fruit trees rise among the scrub and withered weeds,
where a garden had been started once to supplement their needs.

There’s an ancient creaking windmill here that moans as though in pain,
when an errant gust of wind arrives to stir its vanes again,
Though its pump is barely working and the troughs are rusted out,
there’s a puddle sometime forming on the ground below the spout.

And a sad old looking farm plow that’s corroded now with rust,
lays forgotten there among the weeds, half buried in the dust.
There’s a sense of desolation as you stand and view this scene
and you think about the heartaches that you know there must have been.

When the nighttime shadows lengthen as the sun begins to sink
and the harshness seems to melt away as roo’s come into drink.
Then a sense of peace descends here in the stillness that surrounds,
where the pioneers saw hope once in these barren stony grounds.

So you think of how they struggled just to eke a living out
and their months of near starvation through those years of wretched drought.
Then they had to leave defeated by this land of harsh extremes,
as they followed in the footsteps of a thousand shattered dreams.

Like so many others then, no doubt their hearts were filled with hope,
when they left behind their urban lives determined they could cope.
But they found the land was worthless here for either stock or grain,
in a barren thirsty country that was crying out for rain.

You can only guess the hardships that they must have then endured,
as they cursed this wretched country where no doubt they had been lured.
For the dreams they must have cherished then were doomed to never last
and the few signs that remain here are like echoes from the past.

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