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Author Topic: Australia: Land Of Drought  (Read 910 times)

Ian

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Australia: Land Of Drought
« on: November 28, 2006, 05:46:40 PM »
Some of you may have heard reports about Australia and our current Drought. Those who should know these things are saying this is the worst drought ever seen, one pundit said it was a one in one thousand year drought. Things are very bad all around. The farmers have dust bowls for paddocks. The City folks are on water restrictions that are likely to get very drastic before things get better.

So just to bring some light into such a dreary report, let me share this classic poem with you. Written back in 1921 by a great Australian poet, John O'Brien, it encapsulates just what the farmers of old were like with their views on the everchanging weather and the likely effects of weather extremes. It might ring a bell for some of you who have property or have come off a farming lifestyle.

SAID HANRAHAN by John O'Brien

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
  One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
  Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
  As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
  "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
  Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
  With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
  And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
  "It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work
  To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke
  They're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said,
  "And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head,
  And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case,
  Enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place
  As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan,
  And cleared his throat to speak -
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal
  On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
  And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do,"
  O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke "maintained" we wanted two
  To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man,
  Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
  And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
  It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
  And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
  Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
  A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
  Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
  And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time;
  And spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime
  Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
  With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
  Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
  As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place
  Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
  Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
  And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
  There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."

Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921


and the reference to Back-of-Burke ties to the outback, Burke is a small bush town way out in the bush in New South Wales and anything out back of it, well that is really out in the bush. Here's a story from Burke just a couple of weeks back...
CS Monitor Story from the November 20, 2006 edition
"Climate change hits hard in the Australian outback
BOURKE, AUSTRALIA The once mighty Darling River, Australia's longest waterway, is dwindling by the day beneath a blazing blue sky, its sluggish waters an unhealthy shade of pea-green.
The Darling is the lifeblood of Bourke, one of Australia's most celebrated outback towns. Located in the parched west of New South Wales state, the expression "back o' Bourke" is understood by all Australians to mean in the middle of nowhere. But the town's legendary resilience has been pushed to a breaking point by six years of drought, the worst "big dry" since the British settlement of Australia in 1788."

Image of the Darling River at Burke

Cheers, Ian - from Adelaide, South Australia. GMT+0930 +1 for Daylight Robbery - Oct to Apr
A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles. Tim Cahill
A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. John Steinbeck

 

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