Outback Duel

Written by: Lindsay Laurie

There are no laws designed by man, that mean a thing out where,
The drying sun on pastel lands, can’t lead all to despair,
Where frightened eyes can see for miles, across the saltbush plains,
Where death becomes a great relief, to those who suffer pains.

And I who after all these years, look back and still recall,
What I consider in my mind, the worst death of them all,
When near finished droving, what must have been ten thousand sheep,
Out there on those lonely plains, two deaths near made me weep.

My dogs and I were droving, the last two thousand for the shed,
On a station north-west of Balranald, where I’d always see ‘em dead,
Bogged in the tanks, or near the tracks, bleached bones and dirty wool,
Eye-less sockets, (blame the crows), or dingo’s never full.

Yet nothing hit me harder, when I noticed white and dull,
In the distance to the left of me, an old merino’s skull,
With spiral horns of mammoth size, fit for a bar room trophy,
Still where the old ram met his death, entangled in a tree. 

I tried to judge the reason, tried to reconstruct the plot,
I could only guess the ram, went to rub an itchy spot,
On that Belar of tender age, a trunk still straight and slim,
One horn wound like a corkscrew that soon entangled him.

Lord knows how long that luckless ram, walked around the tree,
A deep circled trench gave evidence, walked ‘round endlessly,
Alas though if it was not thirst, his dilemma doomed him prey,
Torn to pieces by a pack, or wedge-tailed eagles had their way.

I remember lifting up my head, and took the time to ponder,
The vast emptiness surrounding me, and that struggle over yonder,
One Belar had met its fate, where there’s no referee or rule…  
One merino lost its life, in this tragic outback duel.