"Australian bush poetry is defined as rhyming verse with good rhyme and meter
which is written about Australia, its people,
places, things, and, way of life."
1996 I have published 8 books of Bush Poetry
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Like most Australians I grew up singing Waltzing Matilda and was
the spirit of its words. It was not until 1996, while on a tour to Darwin and
a stop at Kynuna, that I came across Dick Magoffin’s Watlzing Matilda Tent
of Fame. Upon entering I met Dick who went about telling me how his research put a completely new slant on
by Dick's dedication and documentation I wrote the above verse in memory
of Banjo's Allegory.
Photo: The men involved in
the Shearer's strike who were
WALTZING MATILDA - AN ALLEGORY
Hey Banjo. What was on your mind when, by that waterhole,
Christina played old Craigielee? Did something stir your soul?
Perhaps a voice, a plaintive cry, within the billabong
Was what inspired the alleg'ry, immortalised in song.
The shearer's strike of ninety-four sent forth the worker's cries,
Too long the Squatter set the terms, democracy would rise.
A worker too should have a voice; a fair go all they sought,
But by September ninety-four the strike had come to
Though Dagworth and Kynuna men had still some fight within
And burnt old Dagworth’s woolshed down, a monumental win.
Your swagman sent to reconnoitre, matilda on his back;
A guise well hid within your words, a rather clever tack.
And Hoffmeister whom they found dead down by the waterhole,
Did represent the worker's right, for this he gave his soul.
He stood against authority, who through excessive use
Had robbed the worker of his vote; 'twas wrong and sheer abuse.
The fuss was over one poor sheep, a jumbuck so you said;
That jumbuck was McPherson's wool and lambs burnt in his shed.
No Squatter missed a single sheep some swagman sought for tea;
Your jumbuck was his assets, the Squatter’s property.
The Squatter on the thoroughbred was Mac your dear old friend,
He stood for landed interests who aimed to have their end.
They dominated government, controlled the nation's law;
A loaded system quite unfair which left the workers poor.
Some troopers came ... How many? ... Three! To catch one simple thief?
I think you mean how once again, much to the workers grief,
The overwhelming use of law was just another tool,
For use against the battler's fight, to make him look the fool.
Was it the swagman's ghost that called the day Christina played?
Or did you hear the shearer's call and on your mind it weighed?
'Twas Mac who called for your return, your services in view.
Mick Fahy would stand the shearer's case, the squatters called on you.
Kynuna pub saw sacred deals with charges dropped that day,
The champagne flowed across the bar and common sense held sway.
Then Banjo, Sir, you penned this tale, in guise of fiction true,
But thanks to Dick Magoffin mate, we've cottoned on to you.
So when we sing old Banjo’s song based 'round that shearer's strike,
We'll know the truth within our hearts, our minds will be alike.
'Twas more than just a fancy tale of some poor swaggy's plight,
But how some men fought tooth and nail, for justice and for right!
© Merv Webster
The Goondiwindi Grey
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