Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Jan 06

Scots of the Never Never

Excitement echoed through Great Britain, for the message that was told,
Of land grants in the Southland far away,
Free to honest, keen, hard workers, the Scots who were so bold,
Given land down under, not a thing to pay.

Fierce with pride the Scottish people, with their cash a wee bit tight,
Bleak was the economy of the day,
Landlords, seeking money, took no notice of their plight,
All renters were without a means to pay.

Angus and young Caitlin, newly-weds from Aberdeen,
Found it difficult to start and make their way,
Saw the promise of the Southland, it was like a dream,
To Australia they were coaxed without delay.

The large clipper-ship it lifted, and moved with surge and swell,
The bow, it swayed and rolled from side to side,
When would they near Australia?  The heads are what would tell,
With Botany Bay sprawling vast and wide.

With so many months at sea, it felt marvellous and quite grand,
To put one’s feet again on solid soil,
Stop to purchase horse and dray to help them work their land,
On which their lives would build, with work and toil.

When travelling through the country, a real culture shock,
No highlands, just thick bush, scrub and trees,
But onward were they plodding, across gravel road and rock,
Heading north into a warm North Westerly breeze.

They reached their destination, their acreage of land,
Grassy flats, with timber straight and tall,
A cross-cut saw and axe, held firmly in both hands,
With clear cool water from a pure water-fall.

Working hard each day, to make a comfortable abode,
Sowing crops, seed placed row by row,
Harvesting is over; grain crops brought along and sold,
Bought a bull, a herd of cattle we would grow.

Being warned of rustlers, and of stealing done at night,
Morning dawns, the bull is nowhere to be seen
The bull it has been stolen!  Angus ready for a fight,
The thief a low down, brazen, sneaky fiend.

“Blatant theft!”  Police were told, an apprehension they’ll endeavour,
Angus led his herd of cattle safe within,
Four days later Ewen McGregor, strolling in, ‘Oh so clever!’
Bull in hand, wearing a smirk and cheeky grin.

“Your bull it must have broke out, strayed over to my fold,
When checking on my heifers, saw him there.
The grass is always greener, on the other side, I’m told,
So I’ve brought him back again, so don’t despair!”
This McGregor doesn’t own a bull, and he is nae a fool,
Angus thinks “He let my bull roam with his herd!
Then he leads him by the nose, marches in, looks Oh so cool!
He’s expecting a reward – now what a nerve!”

Angus’s worries are now over, his herd is back together,
When Caitlin, with harsh pains of her own,
Angus saddles-up his horse, and rides hell- bent-for-leather,
To bring a woman’s help into their home.

He rode in sleet and rain, through bush, and rough terrain,
To bring the midwife close to her at birth,
Caitlin knew her time had come; the midwife delivers her baby son,
Cameron, the wee bairn was their first.

On Sunday, Cameron’s christening, is at the Scottish Kirk,
The service to be held at 9 o’clock,
Angus dressed in Sunday best, took the whole day off from work,
Wore his tartan kilt with knee high matching socks.

The sermon is now over, sharing lunch in joyful mood,
All seated around tables, friends and mates,
The trestles groaned and squeaked with the abundance of the food,
Prepared by caring ladies, every plate.

Young Cameron caught the mumps, he had a fever, temp. was high,
Long into the evening Caitlin prayed,
She bathed his little body, with a cool sponge all the night,
With loving, care and prayer, the boy was saved.

A trip made into town to stock-up on all supplies,
Heard there was a barn-dance, sing-a-long and spread,
From a lovely young couple, who had similar Scottish ties,
Who said, “We gather in the old wool shed.”

Dressed the children warmly, wrapped in a woollen bed,
And Angus quickly harnessed up the rig
They were dancing, leaping, pointing, on haggis they were fed,
While the bagpipes droned and played the highland jig.

The days are sweltering hot, and summer’s nearly over,
Oppressive heat streams down on earth each day,
The rains have not yet come, and the cows have got no clover,
The land is burnt and barren, they kneel and pray.

Angus has a stubborn streak, but his patience, running thin,
He’ll persevere ‘til breaking of the drought,
This harsh and hot dry land, will n’er defeat him,
His Scottish pride and defiance will hold out.

Thunder echoes in the distance, and the rain teems down at last,
Looking forward to another prosperous year,
They have found their niche in life, with their good friends here at last,
They are forever thankful to be living here.

Hilda Oakley
Copyright © 29.03.2010

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