Cuttin' Tracks

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Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: Tasmania

Cuttin' Tracks

Post by ALANM » Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:40 pm

Authors note:
After moving to Tasmania in 1975 I worked at several different
jobs, one of which was with a track cutting crew in the rainforest
on the west coast, working for the mining exploration industry

Cuttin’ Tracks
(By Alan McCosker 1983 revised 2020)

Rain comin’ down and soakin’ your back
covered in leeches suckin’ your blood
your feet icy cold in the slush of the track
you trip on a tree root and go down in the mud

Slippin’ and fallin’ as you cut down the slope
all day it’s been gloomy, cloudy and stark
look up for the sun but you know there’s no hope
down here in the forest it’s dismal and dark

You pull out a compass to check if you’re headin’
the way the map said that you had to go
you take a quick sightin’ and see that you’re driftin’
so you backtrack a little and fix up the show

You’re cuttin’ through Barra Bush then Horizontal
the chainsaw gets ripped from your grasp and you swear
you hope it’s not damaged or the bar bent to hell
it’s a long way to camp to pick up a spare

The day’s nearly over, it’s gettin’ windy and late
it’s a pretty long walk back along the cut track
to the camp on the button grass plain by the lake
cold sleet stings your face as you slog your way back

There’s no shower, no toilet, it’s too wet for a fire
you make hot food and coffee by the gaslight
there’s no floor in the old tent, boots sink in the mire
the old shearers stretcher sinks lower each night

Tomorrow the chopper is due with fresh tucker
as long as the weather permits him to fly
he’ll have fuel for the chainsaw and gas for the cooker
we’ll be here to greet him, if the sun rises high

A break in the weather, may see the sun overhead
it’ll go, from wet and cold to humid and dank
bitin’ march flies swarm in clouds ‘round your head
and Tiger Snakes sun themselves out on the track

But if the sun don’t get up, we must be on the track
can’t hang around ’till the chopper sets down
if we hear him fly over one of us can head back
when you’re paid by the metre, there’s no sittin’ around

I’m sure that in some of the country we’ve traversed
so remote with the twisted scrub thickly entwined
that never a human black or white’s ever passed
so far from the known world, even way back in time

It’s hard and it’s tirin’ and you’re constantly wet
it gets harder each day to make your legs walk
your boots will go rotten, your clothes stiff with sweat
long day follows long day, there’s nothin’ but work

But after two weeks your stint’s finally up
the chopper is here, to fly both of you back
to rest for a week and clean your gear up
then it’s back to the forest, cuttin’ more track

It’s no place for bludgers who’ll miss the soft life
in the rainforest mountains, down there on the coast
but it’s one of the best jobs of my workin’ life
cuttin’ tracks in the forest, in Tasmania’s south west

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Re: Cuttin' Tracks

Post by Shelley » Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:24 pm

Oh yes, Alan, I can definitely relate to rain in the forests of Tassie! Haven't ever lived there, but we had cold rainy weather during one of our trips. Certainly would hate to work in it!

Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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