By Morse and Horse

Presaging times of Telecom
And digit telephone
A morse code line once snaked its way
From Brisbane up to Bowen.

And then a brighter vision burned
To keep it moving forth,
To link a seaway cable
With Java, from the North.

Fred Walker was the leader chose
(‘Twas done without delay),
To take a crew and blaze a path
To Burketown, far away.


He knew some of this country,

Some of its plains and hills
Where he had ventured once before,
In Search of Burke and Wills.

But as the mills grind slowly
But as the mills grind small,
Sad fate would also be his lot,
As history will recall.

Gulf fever scourged the party’s rank
By when they reached their aim;
Rough country sapped their horses strength
And some where halt and lame.


Reversing then their homeward course

So slow the miles devour,
Their sorely stricken leader
Grew weaker hour by hour.

At last the Herald touched his brow,
Oh sad! That parting day:
They laid his tortured frame to rest
By the Leichhardt, far away.

Then somewhere near the Norman,
The native, Tommy, died;
Another lonely grave was left
Nearby a riverside.


No ceaseless fever struck him down,

More swift the curtain call -
One instant snatched his life away,
Killed by a horse’s fall.

Still passing sadly onward,
By pathway long and lone,
The gaunt and weary party,
At last returned to Bowen.

But fate would ever mock them,
Ironic trick to play,
No cable landfall there occured -
It came via Darwin way

Clarry Dunstan

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