Cane Train

Midnight shift on a Monday evening - hurry from the barracks to the loco shed,
Pouring rain and black as treacle, wish that I could stay in bed.
Past the arc lights down by the sand shed, down by the ash pits waiting in the rain,
Afternoon shift running late, boys, listen to the rattle of the old cane train.
Listen to the noise of a distant loco rattle over paddocks like a Gatling gun,
Number 6 coming over the river, boys, pounding in the cutting with a hundred ton.

In through the mill-yards slowing for the weigh bridge, drops a load coals up & then
Fills the tender up with water - home go the afternoon shift men.
Off to the yard to pick up empties, counting trucks in the pouring rain,
Hurricane lamp on the end of the rake then back to the engine of the old cane train.
Listen to the noise of a distant loco rattle in the dark like a Gatling gun,
Number 6 with a rake of empties heads for the river and the Daradgee run.

Out from the mill yard, slow at the crossing, open the regulator, stretch her out,
Tender first through the soaking darkness, safety hissing while the drivers shout.
Over the river bridge, through the cuttings, eyes all squinted at the driving rain,
Shovelling coal in the white-hot firebox - flying along on the old cane train.
Listen to the hiss of the old cane loco, shunts a load, gets ready and then
Leaves the rest of the rake in the loop line – thirty seven empties down to Portion 10.

Back to the main line, pulling out full trucks, rain so thick you can hardly see,
Dump ‘em in the loop and pick up the empties, then head north for Daradgee.
Past the blacked out farms and barracks, Victory Creek and the Milky Pine,
Listen to the beat of the old cane loco hauling trucks on the Daradgee Line.
Hear the roar of the old cane loco battle through the rain down the Daradgee track,
Clang! as the fireman shovels on the coal now - rattle of the drivers and the steam valves clack.

Stop for the crossing at the pub at Garradunga, catch points over the Government line,
Shunt the loop, deliver the empties, watery glare where the street lamps shine.
Homeward bound with a load of cane trucks, picking up the rest of the rakes as we go,
Over the bridge, across the water, open her out and listen to her go!
Hear the thunder of the old steam loco waking the echoes as she hammers up the hill
Over the crossing, round the schoolhouse, bringing back the cane to the Goondi Mill -
Bringing back the cane to the Goondi Mill.

Well, no more steam, they're using diesels, no more firebox - white hot glare,
No more water in the joggling gauge glass, no more smoke on the morning air.
Yet I bet some nights the shift men waiting hear that ghostly whistle sound,
Hear the beat of the racing drivers pounding over the sodden ground.
Hear the sound of the old steam loco, faint and far like a distant gun,
As the old time steamies echo in the memory - bringing home the cane from the Daradgee run,
Bringing home the cane from the Daradgee run.

Words & Music: Bill Scott
© 1990 Restless Music
Score to be added

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