Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Pioneers


Below the Murray River, in a quiet and shady glen'
There stands a simple tribute to our pioneering kin.
Rusty iron and rotted wood, ruins of a rustic shack
Far from any township, far from any track.

As I stood upon the threshold I felt a warming glow
I felt the spirit of men and women from long, long ago.
I could hear a mother calling and the scurry of children's feet
A meagre meal of gravy mash, this night there is no meat.

The mother gave a heavy sigh, her shoulders slowly drooped
The father, empty handed, cast his shadow as he stooped.
A weary man of thirty years, aged by toil and care
He kissed his wife, a gentle kiss and sat heavily in his chair.

'No luck today, missus, no gold amongst the clay'
No sign of any fortune, but tomorrows another day.
These words were often spoken, they lay sadly in her heart
She knew he tried his best, and knew she must do her part.

'Tomorrow then, my husband, tomorrow is the day
Tomorrow you are sure to find gold amongst the clay.
They sat for the evening meal set on plates of shining tin
Father giving thanks to their Lord, before the meal could begin.

A baby in a rough hewn crib, coughed and cried in pain
It filled the room with sadness, a child may die again.
One more small marker by the creek near the family home
This was the legacy of those that came, pioneers to the bone.

In the flickering light of candle the pair would sit and talk
Summer breeze beckoned them, but they would rather sit than walk.
Mother would dream of England, Somerset in the Spring
Father always pondering on what tomorrow, for them, may bring.

No thought of turning back at all, no fear of giving in
As for the early pioneers to quit would really be a sin.
They struggled on with hope, a future in their mind and soul
Happiness in this new found land was the pioneer's main goal.

I left the shack and wandered, their hardship made me sad
I found the graves of ancestors, four years, the oldest lad.
Three more lay bedside him and in my heart I cried
Dysentery and typhoid was how many people died.

Then through the mist of my reverie, I heard my kinsman shout
I saw the look of wonder as his wife turned about.
With new strength he gathered her, they danced and laughed in glee
For in his hand, yellow gold, it would end their misery.

Gather children, missus, we're off to town this day
I'll hurry over yonder and borrow horse and dray.
Sickly son she bundled, then knelt and prayed aloud
Treated by the doctor, he would grow and make them proud.

As I dreamt of sailing ships and journeys from far off places
I saw the determination on the cavalcade of faces.
I knew the son would live in this land so large and free
I stood, pride showing for how this great Nation came to be.

NOTE: My Great Grandfather arrived in Sydney in 1850. In 1852, after walking to Victoria, he married and began digging for gold at Yackandandah, Osborne Flat and other places in the area.


  1. Lovely poem Pete. It really captures how hard the pioneers had it and yet how well they endured their hardships.

  2. Great poem Pete.. it sure describes it as it is.. thanks for sharing and also thanks for letting me read your blogs.. you are doing a great job..

    1. Thank you both. The blog is there to read, Loraine, glad you enjoy it.