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Remember Mate --

Remember now those days of gold,

the frosty nights, the bitter cold;

a roaring fire to beat the chill;

the old bush camp near Tin Dog hill.

Bright stars that shone in clear night skies;

the chilling howls of wild dog cries

and how we yarned each night till late,

the billy on -- remember mate?

Detecting then was something new

and we were there among the few

who dared to risk then all we had,

ignoring those who thought us mad.

But luck was soon to play its part

with nuggets found right from the start;

excitedly we’d check each weight

around the fire -- remember mate?

The south east wind blew cold in June

and blew each day till well past noon,

though dreams of wealth out there back then

would warm the hearts of us young men.

We’d follow every ancient track

that wound through hills somewhere outback

and looked for signs to indicate

that gold was near -- remember mate?

Some warmth at last and hearts would sing,

beneath clear skies each goldfields spring;

the country seemed to come alive

and all around once more would thrive.

We’d move our camp from place to place

all through those miles of endless space;

we loved it there, and life was great

long, long ago -- remember mate?

REMEMBER MATE

But once the summer had returned

each gram of gold had to be earned,

for with it came the dust and flies

that zeroed in on red rimmed eyes.

Relief was found as heat would soar

with bucket baths at Bluey’s Bore

and with the moon we’d concentrate

on work at night -- remember mate?

With heat haze rising all around

mirages flooded sun baked ground,

where hills seemed islands now set free

to drift upon an inland sea.

Dust devils weaved liked drunken men

at first one-way then back again

and searing heat would not abate,

till late at night -- remember mate?

Though life was hard you’d have to say,

I doubt we’d change a single day,

for once that country casts its spell

it captures hearts as we know well.

And though those days are now long past,

some memories will always last

of days of gold; of luck and fate -

and life out bush -- remember mate?

*****

© T.E. Piggott

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