The young bulls are downright wild
And the ringers mighty tough
And each brags with his mates
How he’ll give the other enough.
The ballsy males will clash
When muster time is here
And young bucks stir the dust
To hide their very fear.
Now in the muster yard
The bulls and boys are penned
For the locking of the horns
That honour will defend.
In the middle of the yard
Is the altar to the battle
Where man and beast and hormones
Hang from the Bronco Panel.
Upright and rigid built
The Panel is where we win
The locking of the horns
And the cutting of the skin.
The rope is thrown upon the beast
And cinched to the middle rail
The panel holds, the ringers cast him
And grab him by the tail.
Many a bone is broken
Many a head is bust
The bulls come off the worst
When their balls land in the dust.
The Bronco Panel. Dead Man’s Waterhole Yards, Ettadina Station, Coopers Creek. The Bronco Panel. Dead Man’s Waterhole Yards, Ettadina Station, Coopers Creek.
They knew of the great turmoil
when the land was made and formed
by the creatures cast in stone and star
when the very sky was born.
The lessons of countless fathers
Are the legacy of this race
that sighs and breathes and listens
to the very essence of this place.
The songs of a thousand years
brought them face to face
with songs of another people
from a faraway distant place.
These were born to bring the Lord
to those in heathen despair
with the weight of the wooden cross
a lifetime’s burden to bear.
Driven from their own ancient land
By those of another god
They were steeled with resolve and angst
to lay their hands upon the sod.
They carried their crosses across the sea
and filled their wagons with needs
on a mad journey to the inland sea
to devote their life to deeds.
Then the hot wind stirred the salt
on the shores of a sometimes sea
as two cultures from two different lands
collided with fateful misery.
The stars had hardly turned
and the water came but once
then the songs were silent
and the spirits returned to rocks.
Now on the shore of the sometimes sea
lie bits of stained glass and crockery
amongst the stone tool armoury
and the bones of human history.
Written at Lake Killapaninna on the Coopers Creek, near its mouth into Lake Eyre.
Site of the ruins of Bethesda Lutheran Mission (1867-1917). The site is littered with
stone tools, bits of coloured glass, and human remains (both Lutheran and Aboriginal).
"Words are clumsy pretenders of the images of my mind."
As a practicing artist I have travelled far and wide across Australia, walked on country, camped on country and rolled out my swag. I thank the custodians and I acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. I pay my respect to Elders past and present.