The Never-Never Country
Henry Lawson, 1901
By homestead, hut, and shearing-shed,
By railroad, coach, and track
By lonely graves of our brave dead,
Up-Country and Out-Back:
To where 'neath glorious clustered stars
The dreamy plains expand
My home lies wide a thousand miles
In the Never-Never Land.
It lies beyond the farming belt,
Wide wastes of scrub and plain,
A blazing desert in the drought,
A lake-land after rain;
To the sky-line sweeps the waving grass,
Or whirls the scorching sand
A phantom land, a mystic land!
The Never-Never Land.
Where lone Mount Desolation lies,
Mounts Dreadful and Despair
'Tis lost beneath the rainless skies
In hopeless deserts there;
It spreads nor'-west by No-Man's Land
Where clouds are seldom seen
To where the cattle-stations lie
Three hundred miles between.
The drovers of the Great Stock Routes
The strange Gulf country know
Where, travelling from the southern droughts,
The big lean bullocks go;
And camped by night where plains lie wide,
Like some old ocean's bed,
The watchmen in the starlight ride
Round fifteen hundred head.
And west of named and numbered days
The shearers walk and ride
Jack Cornstalk and the Ne'er-do-well,
And the grey-beard side by side;
They veil their eyes from moon and stars,
And slumber on the sand
Sad memories sleep as years go round
In Never-Never Land.
By lonely huts north-west of Bourke,
Through years of flood and drought,
The best of English black-sheep work
Their own salvation out:
Wild fresh-faced boys grown gaunt and brown
Stiff-lipped and haggard-eyed
They live the Dead Past grimly down!
Where boundary-riders ride.
The College Wreck who sunk beneath,
Then rose above his shame,
Tramps West in mateship with the man
Who cannot write his name.
'Tis there where on the barren track
No last half-crust's begrudged
Where saint and sinner, side by side,
Judge not, and are not judged.
Oh rebels to society!
The Outcasts of the West
Oh hopeless eyes that smile for me,
And broken hearts that jest!
The pluck to face a thousand miles
The grit to see it through!
The communism perfected!
And I am proud of you!
The Arab to true desert sand,
The Finn to fields of snow;
The Flax-stick turns to Maoriland,
Where the seasons come and go;
And this old fact comes home to me
And will not let me rest
However barren it may be,
Your own land is the best!
And, lest at ease I should forget
True mateship after all,
My water-bag and billy yet
Are hanging on the wall;
And if my fate should show the sign,
I'd tramp to sunsets grand
With gaunt and stern-eyed mates of mine
In Never-Never Land.