From native tracks and droving trails, Australian Stock Routes grew
to emulate the acorn’s oak beyond the mountains blue.
This network runs through timeless land of wet and dry extremes,
a stock reserve and pathway built to serve the droving teams.
The outback way was recognised when Evans crossed the range
beyond the lay of western slopes to pastures wide and strange.
Past mountain’s ridge, he found a land to justify the dreams
of rolling plains, sweet grass and grains, and slowly flowing streams.
A mix of men and character defined a special class
to drive the mobs of livestock on, in search of pasture grass.
These willing men of skill and style, served well by selfless deeds,
would build the wealth and industries a rising Nation needs.
The work was hard, the days were long, the risk, by nature, grew
when tempers flared, with drought declared and no relief in view.
The tragic tales of hardship, mental pain, and sacrifice
combined with pride in goals hard won when Nature rolled the dice.
A droving death demanded rites, a token cross and mound,
where heart and soul were covered up by dry and stony ground.
Below a shady scented gum, good mates had said, ‘Goodbye’,
as hot winds blew a dusty haze across the sombre sky.
A droving day of gritty action, governed by the light,
would fade as darkness crossed the land and horses worked the night.
A landscape bathed in misty moon-light morphed to form a scene
where good men camped in ragged swags to end the day’s routine.
Now, Stock Routes work like brickies’ mortar, bonding tight the blocks
of grazing land and vital water seeping through the rocks.
This wondrous web of tracks and trails defines just who we are,
and designates the skills we need to drive Australia far.
This crucial reach of feed and water needs a sterling hand
to stoke the worth of rural regions spread across the land.
True danger thrives in ‘party rooms’ where leaders lack the skill
to over-rule a biased law and serve the people’s will.
If vested groups obstruct the way and have the Stock Routes closed,
then turning back the hands of time will never be proposed.
A vibrant network we now prize, will fail and shatter dreams
through wasted chance and fortune that will stem those flowing streams.
Eastern Australia stands to possibly lose one of its greatest environmental and heritage assets, and many of us are not even aware of it. To those not familiar with what “stock routes” or “stock reserves” (SRs) are, they are basically linear strips of vegetation, or small reserves, set aside in the early days of pastoralism to allow drovers to transport livestock from ‘a’ to ’b’ before trains or trucks came along.