The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #1808   Message #1928936
Posted By: freda underhill
07-Jan-07 - 03:20 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Outside Track (Henry Lawson)
Subject: Lyr Add: BILLY OF QUEENSLAND (Henry Lawson)
I've just found another use of the phrase "The Outside Track" in a Henry Lawson poem published as a project Gutenberg eBook
Skyline Riders and Other Verses (1910)

here the Outside Track sounds like a track on the edge of a farming property (and some Australian farming properties are vast). On these huge properties workers would camp at the end of the day after doing their fencing or other work, because it was just too far back to the farm.


"QUEENSLAND," he heads his letters--that's all:
    The date, and the month, and the year in brief;
He often sends me a cheerful scrawl,
    With an undertone of ancient grief.
The first seems familiar, but might have changed,
    As often the writing of wanderers will;
He seems all over the world to have ranged,
    And he signs himself William, or Billy, or Bill.

He might have been an old mate of mine--
    A shearer, or one of the station hands.
(There were some of 'em died, who drop me a line,
    Signing other names, and in other hands.
There was one who carried his swag with me
    On the western tracks, when the world was young,
And now he is spouting democracy
    In another land with another tongue.)

He cheers me up like an old mate, quite,
    And swears at times like an old mate, too;
(Perhaps he knows that I never write
    Except to say that I'm going to).
He says he is tired of telling lies
    For a Blank he knows for a Gory Scamp--
But--I note the tone where the sunset dies
    On the Outside Track or the cattle camp.

Who are you, Billy? But never mind--
    Come to think of it, I forgot--
There were so many in days behind,
    And all so true that it matters not.
It may be out in the Mulga scrub,
    In the southern seas, or a London street--
(I hope it's close to a bar or pub)--
    But I have a feeling that we shall meet.