The Wheel On Steel: A Line To Darwin

A song by John Laird Maryborough Qld June 03

A song of work well done.

This is a great work. It is a triumph
Over long distances with deserts and wet lands
An unforgiving country, near desolate
But now subdued, its future in our hands

For many long years it was a dream
A promise made by the Commonwealth
Rails to Alice Springs were laid, and then again
But the track from Darwin was firmly closed

A Bicentennial Project to build a new railway
Were bipartisan promises made
And surveyors were sent to define the way
Preserving sacred sites with a centre line pegged

But not to be; the vision remained a dream
And for many a year the Territory waited
Each Chief Minister had a one tracked mind
To cause the new railway to be built

Then the wise heads of three parliaments
After a hundred years did approve the work
So many words, but when decision made
The nation's planners took the task in hand

Tenders were called and agreements struck
Money was found to complete the task
The contractors gathered a vast array
Of great machines; to start their work

The blue shirt, the singlet, and the shorts
The plastic hat and heavy steel-toed boots
A bunch of Aussie battlers, blokes and sports
Laid strong creative hands upon the land

A network of access roads and depots
Supply points and power, along the way
Organised three millions of tonnes of ballast
That's a hill demolished, day after day

The permanent way across the land
Over fourteen hundred K of track
Rails welded into sections; then transported
In order and precisely to the grade.

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