A Walgett Episode

Andrew 'Banjo' Paterson

  The sun strikes down with a blinding glare,
   The skies are blue and the plains are wide,
  The saltbush plains that are burnt and bare
   By Walgett out on the Barwon side —
  The Barwon river that wanders down
  In a leisurely manner by Walgett Town.

  There came a stranger — a 'Cockatoo' —
   The word means farmer, as all men know
  Who dwell in the land where the kangaroo
   Barks loud at dawn, and the white-eyed crow
  Uplifts his song on the stock-yard fence
  As he watches the lambkins passing hence.

  The sunburnt stranger was gaunt and brown,
   But it soon appeared that he meant to flout
  The iron law of the country town,
   Which is — that the stranger has got to shout:
  'If he will not shout we must take him down,'
  Remarked the yokels of Walgett Town.

  They baited a trap with a crafty bait,
   With a crafty bait, for they held discourse
  Concerning a new chum who of late
   Had bought such a thoroughly lazy horse;
  They would wager that no one could ride him down
  The length of the city of Walgett Town.

  The stranger was born on a horse's hide;
   So he took the wagers, and made them good
  With his hard-earned cash — but his hopes they died,
   For the horse was a clothes-horse, made of wood! —
  'Twas a well-known horse that had taken down
  Full many a stranger in Walgett Town.

  The stranger smiled with a sickly smile —
   'Tis a sickly smile that the loser grins —
  And he said he had travelled for quite a while
   In trying to sell some marsupial skins.
  'And I thought that perhaps, as you've took me down,
  You would buy them from me, in Walgett Town!'

  He said that his home was at Wingadee,
   At Wingadee where he had for sale
  Some fifty skins and would guarantee
   They were full-sized skins, with the ears and tail
  Complete, and he sold them for money down
  To a venturesome buyer in Walgett Town.

  Then he smiled a smile as he pouched the pelf,
   'I'm glad that I'm quit of them, win or lose:
  You can fetch them in when it suits yourself,
   And you'll find the skins — on the kangaroos!'
  Then he left — and the silence settled down
  Like a tangible thing upon Walgett Town.