On the road with Bedford
cattle, they are walking down for sale,
Three hundred miles to go before she puts them on the
Five hundred miles behind her since she left old Bedford Downs,
(Five hundred long and lonely miles with out the
sight of towns).
She dry-staged through the Murranji with water far between
And battled on the Barkley where the feed was
sparse and lean.
When Edna got the message she was working in the
After years of living in the bush she at last had
Her father had an accident, while droving on the track
And needed her to take his place until he was
able to get back.
Without a thought she rolled her swag and travelled to the west,
Although only young, she could handle cattle
with the best.
The Outback was a males
domain in nineteen fifty two,
To have a woman in charge of stock, well that
was something new.
But Edna knew the droving game and she never had a doubt,
She took charge of fifteen hundred
steers and started on the route.
With a team of native stockmen and a pack horse plant behind
Edna headed off to Queensland when the
permits were all signed.
Droving days were long and
hard, on the stock routes of the west,
As Edna droved those
Bedford steers she didn’t get much rest.
With blood shot eyes and weary, she watches the feeding mob go by
As the choking dust
is rising high up in a cloudless sky.
Her thoughts are of the trip ahead and the challenges she’ll
And hopes that
she’ll be good enough to take her fathers place.
As Edna crossed the
Jump up and she scanned the brooding sky
prayed to God that it wouldn’t rain whilst on the Murranji.
For drovers dread the Murranji when the storms come rolling in
cattle rush off camp at night to the thunders deafening din
Where the dense and sombre lancewood scrubs cling to the track beside
And onwards past the
lonely graves, where several men have died.
When the lightning lit the heavens and the cattle rushed in fright,
Edna raced her night
horse to the lead on a dark and stormy night.
To the sound of crashing timber and the hoof beats thunderous
She trusts her horse
to guide her through the dangers that lay ahead.
Through the thick and tangled branches, over rough and broken ground,
She galloped madly
up the wing to wheel the flying mob around.
Now endless plains roll
out before them, as the miles drag slowly past,
The scrubs are far behind her and the steers have settled
down at last
But Edna can’t afford to be complacent; there are still many miles to
plains still have their dangers, as all the drovers know.
She worries if there’s water at the windmills way up ahead
Or maybe that she should have taken another track
She takes her turn on night
watch, when the Southern Cross is high,
Riding around the
cattle singing, the lonely hours creep slowly by.
Sitting shivering in the saddle as the night horse plods around,
While the cattle are all sleeping as they huddle on the
Edna feels the cold wind blowing across the Rankin plain,
rattling in the stirrups and hands frozen to the rein.
The mob spreads out so they
may feed as they slowly drift along.
tries to push them hard, she knows it would be wrong.
For the leaders always get the feed when travailing on the track
tailers have to search for grass when walking at the back)
So she nurses the lame and laggard as they struggle on behind,
As she try’s
her best to feed them with what grass that she can find.
When Edna delivers at Dajarra
and puts the cattle on the train
She won’t have time to have a rest; she’ll head back
For there’ll be another mob of cattle to bring in from the west,
And Edna knows that
she’s a drover who can stand up with the best.
Edna’s proud of her achievements, but no one would ever know,
talk about herself or let her feelings show.
Edna took the Bedford’s
over, her father was filled with pride,
taught her well in the ways of stock and taught her how to ride.
But Edna doesn’t expect his praise; she just has a job to do,
To help him out when was ill; and to get the
So I’ll dedicate these lines of verse to a dear old friend of mine,
of the Outback- “Edna Zigenbine”
Jack Sammon ©2000