Lock the Lachlan
Billo Jones once said to me, “Now wouldn’t it be grand
If they’d only lock the Lachlan and irrigate the land.
They have the soil and climate, and the water fresh and free,
Yet they fold their arms and let it bolt, to tumble in the sea.
’Taint no good to Gundy to see the fluid go,
When you’re cockyin’ and battlin’ and live on what you grow.
They ought to block the river and give the stream a show,
Yard it at Wyangala and regerlate the flow;
Then you’d see the fertile valley very quickly blossom out,
And years of ‘full and plenty’ where you’d never feel a drought;
You’d see the cattle feedin’ in the clover on the plain,
The orchard and the jumbuck, and the silos filled with grain.
If you thought of starving millions, it would cut you to the bone,
When you know that ‘Granny Lachlan’ could feed ’em on her own.
If you want to help the cocky, the factory and the mill,
Bottle up the silver liquid — don’t let it slip and spill;
Then you’ll find the Aussie ready, when you’ve got the ground to give —
He only wants a decent deal and a fightin’ chance to live.
We should lock the river waters, it’s good to hold them by,
To help you round the corner when things are looking dry.
’Tis hard to beat the Lachlan; I’ve seen ’em raise their meat,
Above the gold and silver, in the paddock with the wheat.
There’s the kookaburra laughin’ in that clump of swampy oak,
He’s like the politician — just treats it as a joke.
Hear the butcher bird and maggie, don’t they make the ranges ring,
Early in the morning when they knuckle down to sing.
But we’ gotter get to business and just ‘Yacka’ with a will,
Then we’ll damn soon lock the Lachlan — that’s the dinkum oil,” said Bill.
Jack Moses, Beyond the City Gates: Australian Story & Verse, Sydney: Austral Publishing Co., 1923, pages 128-[128a] (the last part of the poem is on an unnumbered page, with a photograph, placed between pages 128 and 129)
Also published (with various differences) in:
The Hillston Spectator and Lachlan River Advertiser (Hillston, NSW), 19 January 1923, p. 7
Gundy = Gundagai (a town in New South Wales)
yacka = work (also spelt “yacker”, “yakka”, “yakker”)
Vernacular spelling in the original text:
gotter (got to)