The Horse Teams

The lorries have taken over
The tasks of the western roads
The mobs of the overland drover
The wool of the ten ton loads
In a world that is fraught with changes
No more do we hear on the plains
On the sandhill edge, on the ranges
The chink of the wagon chains

It is only in idle fancies
And only in wistful dreams
That we hear in those vast expanses
The tramp of the twelve horse teams
And see where the sunlight quivers
The fall of the greenhide whips
Where down by the border rivers
Come rocking the Queensland clips

But who can forget the beauty
Of that long and patient yoke
All collared and chained for duty
An hour ‘ere the magpies woke
The proud heads bent in endeavour
The shoulders taking the strain
With never a balk and never
The shame of an idle chain

And who can forget them splashing
Their way through the swamps in flood
With spreaders behind them thrashing
And the great wheels caked in mud
And surely you still remember
The campfire’s golden spread
And the last of its dying embers
And the bells where the tired teams fed

By the collar galls on their shoulders
That tell of the testing years
These were the nation moulders
And these were the pioneers
Now they rest in some golden farness
Knee deep in the asphodels
Where none shall buckle their harness
And none shall follow their bells

Will Ogilvie