The Old Australian Ways

How interesting that the “Banjo” wrote this poem back in 1902. Obviously, the rules and regulations under which we live were already being put in place and impinging on the normal day to day life of Australians. The great man would no doubt turn in his grave if he could see the plethora of laws we have today.

The London lights are far abeam
Behind a bank of cloud
Along the shore the gas lights gleam
The gale is piping loud
And down the channel groping blind
We drive her through the haze
Towards the land we left behind
The good old land of never mind
And old Australian ways

The narrow ways of English folk
Are not for such as we
They bear the long accustomed yolk
Of staid conservancy
But all our roads are new and strange
And through our blood there runs
The vagabonding love of change
That drove us westward of the range
And westward of the suns

The city folk go to and fro
Behind the prison bars
They never hear the breezes blow
And never see the stars
They never hear in blossomed trees
The music low and sweet
Of wild birds making melodies
Nor catch the little laughing breeze
That whispers in the wheat

Our fathers came from roving stock
That could not fixed abide
And we have followed field and flock
Since e’re we learned to ride
By miner’s camp and shearing shed
In land of heat and drought
We followed where our fortune led
With fortune always up ahead
And always further out

The wind is in the barley grass
The wattles are in bloom
The breezes greet us as they pass
With honey sweet perfume
The parakeets go screaming by
With flash of golden wing
And from the swamp the wild ducks cry
Their long drawn note of revelry
Rejoicing at the Spring

So cast the weary pen aside
And let the papers rest
For we must saddle up and ride
Towards the blue hills breast
And we must travel far and fast
Across their rugged maze
Towards the Spring of youth at last
And bring back from the buried past
The old Australian ways

When Clancy took the drover’s track
In years of long ago
He drifted to the outer back
Beyond the Overflow
By rolling plain and rocky shelf
With stockwhip in his hand
He came at last, the lucky elf
To the town of Come-and-help-yourself
In rough and ready land

And if it be that you would know
The tracks he used to ride
Then you must saddle up and go
Beyond the Queensland side
Beyond the reach of rule or law
To ride the long day through
In Nature’s homestead filled with awe
Then you might see what Clancy saw
And know what Clancy knew

A B “Banjo” Paterson 1902