Cattle dying by the roadside, skin falling from their bones
In the drought struck red dust country of the west
Crows fighting wedge-tailed eagles for their share of roadside kill
As they compete in nature’s cruel survival test.
No water in the dams or creeks, there’s been no rain for months, not weeks,
Cattle forage where no blade of grass is found
Behind fences and roadside, amongst livestock that have died
On the dry and barren western red dust ground.
Hills hover in the heat haze disconnected from the land
Trees dance above the soil from which they grow
Red hills rise on the horizon, ancient relics of the past
As they push from out the dry red earth below.
No clouds. No rain. Wind blows the dust through every vein.
There’s no relief from scorching heat and clear blue skies.
Ringers check the bores and cattle in this never ending battle
And farmers watch and cry as all around them dies.
When Dorothea Mackellar wrote of ‘drought and flooding rain’
Did she ever see the west in a long dry?
Did she see the dust bowl waterholes, the rivers and the creeks?
Did she feel the heartache watching cattle die?
Yet there’s beauty in the landscape even when it’s dry as dust
Ancient mesas rising where there once was inland sea
And the bones within the earth have witnessed changes since the birth
Of Australia, and this dry, harsh, red dust country.