Burke & Wills Web
www.burkeandwills.net.au
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2012

by Ray Liversidge

© 2006
Greensborough, Vic: Flat Chat Press.

The following is an extract from Chapter 6 of Ray Liversidge's verse novel, The Barrier Range.

Chapter 18 - The Aussie Oregon Trail

B is for Burke

'Have any of you blokes seen my cup?
It's white with a black B on it.'

Becker: 'No.'
Beckler: 'No.'
Brahe: 'No.'
Bowman: 'No.'
Belooch: 'No.'
Boocha: 'Phhhtt.'


Not waiting for the billy to boil

Before the billy boils
Burke shoots through

like a Bondi tram
taking most of the men

camels and horses
up the Darling

leaving Beckler et al
to follow with the wagons


Another cup o' tea, Gov'nor?

'What's keeping the others?' Burke asks,
pouring himself another cup of tea.


Meanwhile, back in the mallee

branches of
mulga and
saltbush

slash
like swords
the covers

of wagons

wheels
sink in
shifting
sand


Hail

confined
to tents
the men
occupy minds
with hands

playing cards
writing letters
to loved ones

or polishing
pistols

while
white hail
drops

from blue sky
onto red
earth


Eggs

After the hail they move
camp, leaving behind

the many eggs which
had fallen the day before

and burrowed in the soil.

Now pairs of black hands
are busy beneath the sun

digging for baby rainbow serpents.


Trail blazing

With speed to match the Pony Express
Neumayer is galloping south

with news for the Society
that our very own Burke

(Australia's answer to Buffalo Bill)
is blazing the Aussie Oregon Trail.

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