The Sleeper Cutter

The Land Friday 3 July 1931
Mid the gorges deep, so wild and steep
Where the nights are cold and damp,
Where the wild-cats prowl and the dingoes howl
Is the sleeper cutters' camp.
They are comrades true—their, wants are few,
And their ways are wild and rough,
But-their hearts are light, from morn till night,
And their sinews strong and tough.

With plenty to eat in their bush retreat,
And with wood to make a fire
With a pipe to smoke, mid laughter and joke—
What more should a man desire?
To recline at night, by a camp-fire bright
And to bask in its ruddy glow,
Free from all strife, is a dinkum life
That only the bushmen know.

Long after dark, in their bunks of bark,
When the wombat leaves his lair.
They list to the cry, from the gum trees high
Of the plaintive monkey bear.
And the night winds sigh, which, passing by,
Through the branches overhead,
Make a mournful sound, which floats around
O'er every woodman's bed.

At break of day, they hie them away
To work mid the box-trees tall,
Where axe and saw wage a ruthless war
With help from the pounding maul.
And the grand old trees that, have braved the breeze  
In all of their pristine pride
Come down with a smash, and a thundering crash,
With their limbs cast far and wide.

Thus all day long, mid laughter and song,
The giants are brought to the ground;
The wild birds sing, and the echoes ring
As the hills throw back the sound.
When cares oppress, midst the city's stress,
And you feel that you'd like a tramp,
Roll up your swag, or pack your bag,
And make for the cutters' camp;

For the billy tea is always free,
And there's damper, stew, or rice.
Don't sit and wait or change your plate—
In the bush we're not precise.
Though the social oaf may stand aloof,
From among the city push,
There's but one class where a man's a man,
And but one class in the bush.
                                                  —R. Bell.

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