Outback is a reflection
of the era of pioneering spirits that tramped our
great land. Henry Lawson wrote this poem approx
100 years ago and its sadness yet defiant will and
determination give me great respect for the lonely
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Outback Lyrics by Henry Lawson
The old year went and
the new returned in the withering weeks of drought
The cheque was spent that the shearer earned and
the sheds were all cut out
The publicans words were short and few and the publicans
looks were black
And the time had come as the shearer knew to carry
his swag outback.
For time means tucker and tramp you must where scrubs
and plains are wide
With seldom a track a man could trust or a mountain
peak to guide
All day long in the dust and heat when summer is
on the track
With empty stomach and blistered feet they carried
there swags outback.
He tramped away from the shanty tree when the days
were long and hot
With never a soul to know or care if he died on
the track or not
The poor in the city have friends in woe no matter
how much they lack
But only God and the swagman knows how a poor man
He begged his way to the parched Parroo and the
Warrago tracks once more
And lived like a dog like as swagmen do till the
Westerns Stations shore
But men were many and sheds were full for work in
the town was slack
And the traveler never got his hands in wool though
he tramped for a year Outback.
In stifling noons when his back was wrung but it's
load and the air seemed dead
And the water warmed in the bag that hung to his
aching arm like lead
Or in times of flood when plains were seas and the
scrubs were cold and black
He ploughed in mud to his trembling knees and paid
for his sins Outback.
Dirty and careless and old he wore as his lamp of
hope grew dim
He tramped for years till the swag he wore seemed
part of himself to him
As a bullock drags in sandy ruts he followed the
With never a thought but to reach the huts when
the sun went down Outback.
It chanced one day when the North wind blew in his
face like a furnace breath
He left the track for a tank he knew - t'was a shorter
cut to death
For the bed of the tank was hard and dry and crossed
with many a crack
And oh its a terrible thing to die of thirst in
the scrub outback.
A drover came but the fringe of the Law was Eastwood
many a mile
He never reported a thing he saw for it was not
worth his while.
The Tanks are full and the grass is high in the
Mulga off the track
Where the bleaching bones of a white man lie by
his mouldering swag Outback.
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