There's a run on the Western limit Where a man lives like a beast, And a shanty in the mulga That stretches to the East; And the hopeless men who carry Their swags and tramp in pain -- The footmen must not tarry Out there on the Great Grey Plain.
Out West, where the stars are brightest, Where the scorching north wind blows, And the bones of the dead seem whitest, And the sun on a desert glows -- Out back in the hungry distance That brave hearts dare in vain -- Where beggars tramp for existence -- There lies the Great Grey Plain.
'Tis a desert not more barren Than the Great Grey Plain of years, Where a fierce fire burns the hearts of men -- Dries up the fount of tears: Where the victims of a greed insane Are crushed in a hell-born strife -- Where the souls of a race are murdered On the Great Grey Plain of Life!
When I was up the country in the rough and early days, I used to work along ov Jimmy Nowlett's bullick-drays; Then the reelroad wasn't heered on, an' the bush was wild an' strange, An' we useter draw the timber from the saw-pits in the range -- Load provisions for the stations, an' we'd travel far and slow Through the plains an' 'cross the ranges in the days of long ago.
Then it's yoke up the bullicks and tramp beside 'em slow, An' saddle up yer horses an' a-ridin' we will go, To the bullick-drivin', cattle-drovin', Nigger, digger, roarin', rovin' Days o' long ago.
Once me and Jimmy Nowlett loaded timber for the town, But we hadn't gone a dozen mile before the rain come down, An' me an' Jimmy Nowlett an' the bullicks an' the dray Was cut off on some risin' ground while floods around us lay; An' we soon run short of tucker an' terbacca, which was bad, An' pertaters dipped in honey was the only tuck we had.
An' half our bullicks perished when the drought was on the land, An' the burnin' heat that dazzles as it dances on the sand; When the sun-baked clay an' gravel paves for miles the burnin' creeks, An' at ev'ry step yer travel there a rottin' carcase reeks -- But we pulled ourselves together, for we never used ter know What a feather bed was good for in those days o' long ago.
But in spite ov barren ridges an' in spite ov mud an' heat, An' dust that browned the bushes when it rose from bullicks' feet, An' in spite ov cold and chilblains when the bush was white with frost, An' in spite of muddy water where the burnin' plain was crossed, An' in spite of modern progress, and in spite of all their blow, 'Twas a better land to live in, in the days o' long ago.