The Way We Were

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The Way We Were

Post by Terry » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:59 pm

This is a true story and it happened about 40 years ago, when a couple of mates and I decided to do a little exploring of our own.
We set off from well north of Laverton (WA) and headed in a north easterly direction and then eventually more or less true east.
The idea was to head out to the Urlic Ranges (not sure if I have spelt that correctly) and search for gold at was the then thought to be on the western edge of what was often referred to as Lassiter County. Well we didn't find any gold but we did find this place and I've never forgotten it

The Way We Were

There’s a track that’s rarely travelled, yet I urge you to go there,
for a story that’s worth telling, will be waiting if you dare.
You must face the isolation of this long-forgotten spot,
where the past lies all but hidden in this place that time forgot,

First impressions are of starkness as you pause to look around,
yet, you sense there’s something special there just waiting to be found.
Breakaways rise high and overlook this ancient sunburnt land,
with its twisting, tortured, bone-dry creeks, and scorching desert sand.

You can feel the past around you from the few things that remain;
remnants of the goldrush days when most who came here toiled in vain.
Yet as harsh as life then must have been; true mateship found a way
and those friendships stood the test of time; the proof survives today

On a barren rock-strewn craggy ridge there stands a cairn of stone,
that protects a special plaque, on which a hero’s name is shown.
Dedicated to a mate of theirs who marched away to war
and who lost his life in battle on a distant foreign shore.

You may wonder why that plaque is there so far from anywhere,
but no doubt there was a reason why it’s placed there with such care.
Nearby mines must hold the answer though they hide their secret still,
of the reason for this plaque, and for the cairn up on the hill.

There with heavy hearts I’m sure, beneath those skies of endless blue,
mates of his paid tribute to him in the only way they knew.
They had placed that plaque out there, informing all who may pass by,
that the spirit of their mate lives on, and it would never die.

You can only now admire, the dedication of those men
and to me it paints a picture of what mateship meant back then.
They had honoured here a much-loved friend out on this dusty plain
and you wonder if such men will ever grace this land again.

As the sun is slowly setting and the harshness starts to fade,
you then think about that soldier and the friendships that he made.
For he must have been a special bloke from what you have seen here
and you sense at least in spirit, that he surely still roams near.

Then like me your mind may wander as you look there at that scene,
back to nights around their campfire, and the way things might have been.
Weary men at rest relaxing as the heat of day took flight
and the starkness had been hidden by the shadows of the night.

I imagined I could see them with the billy on to brew;
hear them yarning by the dying coals the way that best mates do.
Way out on this desert fringe, a lifetime friendship had begun,
that in time they’d grow to treasure more than any gold they won.

When I looked back to the ridge and saw the cairn and plaque up there
I then thought about the selflessness of mates who really care.
Silhouetted there at dusk, it paints a haunting lasting view,
telling of the past here, and the kind of men that soldier knew.


© T.E. Piggott
Last edited by Terry on Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Shelley » Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:19 pm

You've done it again Terry!

When it comes to creating vivid word pictures, you are truly skilled. I felt the heat of the desert wind and the isolation as I read your poem.

There's something about true stories!

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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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Terry » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:15 pm

Thanks Shelley

Although it was 40 years ago, I've never forgotten that isolated place.
It was a real dry year, and that country is arid at the best of times; it was really desolate that year.
My one regret is not spending more time there; the plan had been to camp a couple of days on the way back.
unfortunately our plans changed and we returned by a different route.
another memory was the giant breakaways before we got there, they were the tallest I've ever seen, and almost straight faced where they tumbled into a sort of lake. Out in front of them were sections that had broken away eons before. they looked like flat topped islands, a bit like icebergs that we see on TV.


Duncan Williams
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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Duncan Williams » Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:35 am

Very nice poem terry, well enjoyed. cheers Duncan.

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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Terry » Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:42 pm

Thanks Duncan

I have been away for a month, so thought it was time to post something.
I had been thinking of writing a poem along these lines for a number of years,
but kept putting it off, Worried if I could do justice to what we'd seen,
but still keep to the facts as I remembered them.

Cheers Mate


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Re: The Way We Were

Post by r.magnay » Tue Mar 17, 2020 7:13 am

Gday mate, another good write, I am not a spiritual bloke in the religious sense of the word, but I too, often got those sort of feelings about particular spots in the bush. I can always relate to your writing Terry, thanks.

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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Terry » Wed Mar 18, 2020 12:53 pm

G/day Ross
I suspect (certainly in my case anyway) once you spend enough time in those remote areas to feel at home there, you do seem to blend into that country yourself. Despite the harshness and remoteness in places, there is a feeling you develop for it, a certain mystique or atmosphere you sense, that someone just passing through may never notice.
Cheers Ross

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Catherine Lee
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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Catherine Lee » Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:29 pm

Just wonderful, Terry! You really do have the most incredible gift of painting a picture so clearly that we can all feel as if we're living it. Like Shelley, I could feel the atmosphere and isolation and so easily imagine the men around the campfire. I love this poem, and so glad that you did indeed decide not to put it off any longer, but instead followed through with your initial inspiration to turn out something so exceptional!

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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Terry » Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:21 pm

Thanks Catherine

That's very generous of you.

With the exception of the odd homework poem I have only written two or three poems over the last year or so - I had other distractions.
This poem has sort of evolved over that period until reaching what you see here.
As mentioned it was a poem I had intended writing for a long time, and it took a bit of trial and error before I was reasonably happy with it.



Jeff Thorpe
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Re: The Way We Were

Post by Jeff Thorpe » Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:50 am

A wonderful poem Terry and I endorse others comments.
Having recently travelled on The Ghan (probably the last few for a while) and seeing the breakaways near Coober Pedy I can relate to your words.
Keep them coming
Cheers, Jeff

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