Across the Nullabor

Three hundred miles of gleaming line
Across a treeless plain,
A million hardwood sleepers
Beneath the rails are lain.

And veering not but one degree,
Here nature seems at loss;
No ridge to climb, no cutting made,
No stream or bridge to cross.

This segment’s of a railroad track
That leaps from shore to shore,
It links a nation, East to West
Across the Nullabor.


The final link, a thousand miles,

O’er arid country lay;
A challenge tall through which to build
A lasting permanent way.

With camels, horse and human strength
And navvies’ tools of trade,
With no machine of modern age
A mile a day they laid.

No surcease from the blinding dust,
And none from searing heat;
With ways to thwart their slow advance
Here nature seems replete.


Though too the fever winds would blow

To strike so many down,
The final spike at last was struck
And thus their efforts crown.

Monotony now for fettler’s wives
Who scan a lonely plain,
For breath of only outside joy -
The weekly ‘tea and sugar train.

And greater joy there is for all,

When Santa’s train arrives,
Then - in a year he’ll come again
And brighten lonely lives.

From comfort of a sleeping car,
Now spare a thought once more,
For those who built, and those who tend
This line across the Nullabor.

Clarry Dunstan

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