Along the Castlereagh [poem by Jack Moses]

[Editor: This is a poem from Beyond the City Gates: Australian Story & Verse (1923) by Jack Moses.]

Along the Castlereagh

Now, this Coonamble fountain, that’s dripping in the park,
Came it in commemoration or put there for a lark?
A weird and plucky struggle to show the stranger, eh?
You still can squeeze a trickle from out the Castlereagh.

It struck me very sudden with its bib of shoddy blue,
It dribbles like a baby when its teeth are cutting through.
The fountain’s not Coonamble; it’s only by the way.
They raise the finest stock I know along the Castlereagh.

When Britain called for soldiers, with her back against the wall,
’Gil coo-eed for the Cooees and they answered to the call.
They buckled on their armour and hastened to the fray,
And took the fences in their stride along the Castlereagh.

He’s a solid sort, the Aussie, that settled in the West,
Fighting fires and taxes and the cursed rabbit pest.
But there’s ever one to cheer him in his labours day by day —
The faithful wife that’s helping, along the Castlereagh.

If they’d only lock the rivers died keep the waters by,
To save us from the horrors of the seasons when they’re dry,
You could bet your only deener (and you’d never have to pay)
That you’d see a perfect paradise along the Castlereagh.

I’m camping down in Logan’s, at the old pub. in the Glen,
Where the fluid’s always jonick, but they keep a rotten pen.
The ink is nearly finished, but there’s just enough to say,
They’re all wool and pure merino, along the Castlereagh.

[N.B. — “Gil.” abbreviation for Gilgandra, where the “March of the Coo-ees” originated, under the direction of the late William Hitchens.]

Jack Moses, Beyond the City Gates: Australian Story & Verse, Sydney: Austral Publishing Co., 1923, pages 111-112

Editor’s notes:
coo-ee = a prolonged call used by Australian Aborigines to attract attention; the call of “coo-ee” was adopted by Europeans in Australia

deener = (also spelt “deiner”) a shilling

’Gil = Gilgandra, a town in New South Wales, located 460 km. north-west of Sydney

jonick = (also spelt “jannock”) fair, genuine, honest, straightforward; just treatment, justice

March of the Coo-ees = in 1915, during the First World War (1914-1818), at a time when volunteers for the Australian military had tapered off, William Thomas Hitchens, of Gilgandra, led a group of 26 volunteers on a recruitment march from Gilgandra to Sydney (a distance of approximately 320 miles), in what became widely known as the “Coo-ee March”; the marchers held recruitment meetings in towns along the way, and the group had swelled to 263 by the time they reached Sydney; the march sparked the enthusiasm of the public, spawned several copycat marches, and brought about an overall increase in the rate of recruitment
See: 1) “Cooee March 1915”, Gilgandra Shire Council (accessed 4 October 2015)
2) “Recruiting Marches 1915-1916”, Australian War Memorial (accessed 4 October 2015)
3) “[list of articles tagged “cooee march”]”, History Gilgandra (accessed 4 October 2015)

pub. = hotel; an establishment where the main line of business is to sell alcoholic drinks for customers to consume on the premises (“pub” comes from the abbreviation of “public house”)

pure merino = someone who came to Australia as a free settler (i.e. not as a convict); someone from a free settler’s family; someone from a socially prominent family; a wealthy person; someone of good character

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