© Jim Kent

Winner, 2018 The Bronze Swagman Award, Winton, Queensland.

Good day Old Mate, the whispered words, an echo from the past,
from distant years when times were tough and mateships standing fast,
the dusty outback tracks we trod, the battlefields of war,
extended hands with hardships shared and mates for ever more.

There’s good mates remembered well along the dusty track,
across the endless sun struck plains to shearing sheds outback
in hungry times when work was short, and tramp to live we must,
the endless hours, weary feet, the flies and heat and dust.

Mates of toil and hardship often out of work and broke,
men who’d share their last tobac if you had none to smoke,
together on the wallaby with billy can and swags,
In swaggie camps, tired men, and empty tucker bag.

Tramp we must for times were tough and work was hard to find,
those friendships born in desp’rate days the everlasting kind,
from shearing shed to squatter’s run, in towns along the way,
in forlorn hope, forgotten dreams, a future grim and grey.

When we heard the bugles call, we heard them loud and clear,
and to those drums of war we marched to proudly volunteer,
to take up arms to fight the foe, to stand against the tide,
for King and Country, Empire too, men bravely fought and died.

In Greece and Crete and desert sand, in jungles near our shore,
we saw men die and heard men cry in bloody wrathful war,
on battle field and in the air, in fighting ships at sea,’
in prison camps with no respite, the price of victory.

Now we march on Anzac Day, old men but still with pride,
in sad rememb’rance of the mates no longer by our side,
men who shared the weary way along the tracks of life,
the reaching hand, encouragement, in hardship, war and strife.

The years have sadly taken toll, the gripping hands are few
when me meet as oft we do old friendships to renew,
mates we were in tougher times and mates until the last,
“Good day, Old Mate,” the whispered words yet echoing the past.

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