The Poetry Corner

Black Harry's Team

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

No soft-skinned Durham steers are they, No Devons plump and red, But brindled, black, and iron-grey That mark the mountain-bred; For mountain-bred and mountain-broke, With sullen eyes agleam, No stranger's hand could pull a yoke On old Black Harry's team. Pull out, pull out, at break of morn The creeks are running white, And Tiger, Spot, and Snailey-horn Must bend their bows by night; And axles, wheels and flooring boards Are swept with flying spray As, shoulder-deep, through mountain fords The leaders feel their way. He needs no sign of cross or kirn To guide him as he goes, For every twist and every turn That old black leader knows. Up mountains steep they heave and strain Where never wheel has rolled, And what the toiling leaders gain The body bullocks hold. Where eaglehawks their eyries make, On sidelings steep and blind, He rigs the good old-fashioned brake, A tree tied on behind. Up mountains, straining to the full, Each poler plays his part, The sullen, stubborn, bullock pull That breaks a horse's heart. Beyond the furthest bridle track His wheels have blazed the way; The forest giants, burnt and black, Are earmarked by his dray. Through belts of scrub where messmates grow His juggernaut has rolled, For stumps and saplings have to go When Harry's team takes hold. On easy grade and rubber tyre The tourist car goes through; They halt a moment and admire The far-flung mountain view. The tourist folk would be amazed If they could get to know They take the track Black Harry blazed A hundred years ago.