View Full Version : The Boundary Riders

Reg Kear
8th October 2008, 06:23 AM

Slade was standing in the Public watching ghosts walk through his mind,
He had wandered in from Tambo yesterday.
And he'd fixed himself some lodgin's, the cheapest he could find,
He had better things to do with all his pay.
He'd seen the bottom of his beer glass all too often looking down,
And the night had urgent whispers underneath;
As he leaned against the bar, he cast a haunted look around
And sipped slowly on his beer, strained through his teeth.

But the ghosts would not be driven and the Whickham staked her claim,
Wire thin cattle made dry Mitchell grass a feast;
While the ringers had small comfort from the billy on the flame,
And the bore pumped liquid life to man and beast.
With the leaders strung for miles, in the worst drought ever known,
Sick tailenders made the stockmen grimly nod.
But elsewhere they talked of profit, as the stock were falling down;
Paper stockmen, down in Queen street, still played God.

After months of riding boundary, they were 'pig's ear Poley' wed'
(That's McDonald's saddles, best that men could buy,)
Six full years he'd been with Dugan, who was riding up ahead,
Raising clouds of dust to smear a clear blue sky.
Nursing cattle through the dry spell, facing hardship night and day,
They shared trust, and sorrow when the times were rough.
For the outback laws are simple: there just aint no easy way,
But the man that holds his own is good enough.

When they mustered on the on the Cooper, where the Barcoo river runs,
Up against the Thompson, where it forms the creek.
They both had an 'understanding' (rare for different mother's sons,)
Men would speak of them as one; if they did speak.
'Cross the Great Artesian Basin, down the arid Birdsville Track,
Near the corner wher the Willow has three sides:
Where five hundred head of Kidman's best aint never coming back;
From that desolate stretch that's bone bleached, sand blown, dried.

They'd just left a Kidman station when the rumour went around,
The bush telegraph said "Gold..!! at Tennant Creek."
Well, they hadn't made their fortunes yet where cattle could be found;
They were saddled, packed and gone within the week.
Trav'lin' north along the river, on the Territory side,
They were camped and had the billy on the flame,
When a dusty boundary rider, with a grin a mile wide,
Told them 'Billy Strong Twofella,' was his name.

With their eldorado calling the three drovers staked their claim
In the hottest, God forsaken place on earth;
Where they started at the digging, for their fortune and their fame,
With long flights of fancy at impending worth.
But the glitter was elusive whilst the desert took its toll,
Now the dreams were cattle, resting near a creek.
And the desperate conditions proved too hard for self control,
There was three way strife and big blues every week.

Until Dugan started dancing when the bucket reached the top
And the nugget gleamed and sparkled in the sun.
But the trouble really started at the time to divvy up,
"Three way split," said Dugan; "cause it weighs a ton."
"There's no way I'm sharing equal." Slade screamed, shovel in his hand,
As he slashed the shining steel at Dugan's head.
Then as Dugan's body crumbled, and his blood stained bone-dry land;
Slade took a gun and shot black Billy dead.

When the troopers heard the story of mad Billy's savage act,
How he'd killed poor Dugan, then had to be shot:
"Looks like self defence," they muttered, as they noted down the fact,
"And that nugget is Fool's Gold, not worth a lot."
So Slade roams around the publics', hearing voices call his name;
Two dead faces grimace when he closed his eyes.
And the terror only lessens when the liquor drowns his shame,
But he'll only know relief the day he dies.

Reg Kear 1995.

alf corbyn
11th October 2008, 01:54 PM
a very excellent piece of history .cheers. alf

Reg Kear
14th April 2015, 09:20 PM
Tis twenty years since I wrote the 'Boundary Riders' poem and an inquiry from someone on the origins of the 'Pig's ear Poley saddle' mentioned in the poem led me right back to this MN website today - 15/4/2015 - Stirred up a lot of memories... Funny ol' world innit.

Thanks Brian for the opportunity to connect up and dream again..

Kim Chin... where are you now.?

R527835 Reg Kear


Doc Vernon
14th April 2015, 09:51 PM
Hello Reg
Nice to see you on site again been a long while !
Still have that lovely Book of Poems you so kindly donated to me and read it quite often!
Always nice to read your Poems !
Take Care