Introduction: if what follows is to make any sense � and it is a big IF � then first read under Essays, �The Birdsville Track�.
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For glossary, see end of piece, if you get that far.
"Near Australia�s heart where sheep do roam
Lies a dusty town one hundred call home.
If amenities lack in this stark outback,
Maree�s claim to fame is the Birdsville Track.
A fabled road from years before
Now tamed to a stretch of five one four.
It�s face is rough; just dust and stone.
(Black-top lovers best leave well alone!)
Near where the Track does first commence
You cross the wire of the long Dog Fence.
It shuts and guards Merino pride,
Whilst Dingo prowls the barred outside.
On north: you pass three homesteads there,
then Cooper Creek�s wide floods plain, where
are stands of sturdy coolabahs,
and th� enchanted silence of a billion stars.
Among salt-bush plains the gibbers gleam,
no cooling shade or clear, cold stream,
jus� wand�ring stock ; a sun-baked hack :
what d�ya expect? It�s the Birdsville Track.
Mungeranie halt, where c�rellas have gone
Finds the quick, hic humour of bearded John,
A steaming pool, an iced six-pack :
What more do you want on the Birdsville Track?
Since the Track was pioneered by Burt
It�s length has known both joy and hurt.
Abandoned hopes ; abandoned dreams ;
Uncertain trade ; uncertain schemes.
Homestead ruins mark plans not to be:
The Page fam�ly grave, and Edith Scobey.
The Track recalls best human endeavour.
It�s favours won not by smart, shrewd or clever,
but with courage that foils what the spirit could crack :
A man-proving road is the Birdsville Track."
Corellas: a parrot-like bird, white plumage, yellow beak, flock in huge numbers.
Gibbers: the local term for the stones that cover the surface of the surrounding desert.
Dog Fence: the longest man-made barrier in the world, built to keep the wild Dingo out of Australia�s sheep country.
Black-top: highways surfaced with tar!