The tractor belches acrid smoke on crisp winter's air,
As magpies warble morning song from hidden piney lair.
Placid cows plod single file, udders bulging full,
Toward the rusty milking shed, to obey their daily call.
Cockatoos and pink and greys select seeds among the dung
Stockman saddles sturdy horse, as homestead bell is rung
Cook has served a breakfast spread for the owner and his wife
Bacon crisp and eggs of gold and bread of crusty slice.
The overseer is left to brief all of the station men
The carpenter his task will be to repair a rotting pen.
The jackaroo with baby face and eyes of sparkling blue,
Is told to muster daggy sheep; the task to him is new.
The groom he sharpens butcher's knife, to replenish station meat
The boundary rider knows his job is to patrol the fenceline beat.
Station wood is getting short and with winter storms to blow,
The tractor driver with trailer hitched along mountain track will go.
But first his family clamber up, to ride upon the plate,
Tho' space is small and comfort nought, Bill's kids both think it's great.
For pleasure must be sought and found where 'ere one can or willl,
To ride along steep mountain trail to them provides a thrill.
The big Hanamag roars like a bull, wheels churn upon soft earth,
With lunch on board and sun's wan smile, there is to be much mirth.
So across the creek and down the track, toward blue hills afar,
Through a dozen gates along the way, not one is left ajar.
Calloused hands on the wheel steer the beast to gather wood
Mary's kind face is full of love for husband and her brood.
Up tortuos mountain trail, over bridge across deep rift,
'Round hairpin bend, erosion ditch and slippery gravel drift.
Through Scribbly gums and kurrajongs, across the alpine pass,
At last their journey ends in remote clearing of soft grass.
The axe is swung, they pile dry fuel, the load begins to grow.
Splintery hands and beaded brow, the toll now starts to show.
But these are hardy country folk and work for them is life,
They meet each challenge with a grin, accepting any strife.
When the job is done they pause for rest, Mary spreads the rug,
The kids flop down, she passes food and gives each one a hug.
With logs lashed to the deck, big wheels once more are turning,
Ten ton or more of best Bluegum, to keep the home fires burning.
Homeward bound in bottom gear, kids clinging to the guard,
Rocky ruts and granite stone, their load now shoving hard.
Still so high upon the hill, far homestead's but a dot.
Worry shows upon Bill's face; as their course he tries to plot.
But gravity and gradient test gearbox to its finish.
A bang a jolt, a shriek of revs, their speed does not dimish!
Ashen face and knuckles white, eyes wide with sudden panic,
Thundering beast of throbbing steel, has now become quite manic.
Frightened screams pierce the air and dust behind them plumes,
Hairpin bend and deadly drop, an abyss ahead now looms.
Fight the wheel and pump the brakes! 'God we're going over!'
No time to think, just hang on, in space they seem to hover.
A deep watery grave awaits below, to swallow them from view.
With the fire wood scattered wide, their fate provides no clue.
And 'tho time will pass and legends grow about their aweful fate,
No one can hope to know the truth, or have cause to speculate,
'Til one day when drought grips the land, and when water levels fall,
Revealing beast of rusty steel and bones all bleached and small.