Across the stony ridges, Across the rolling plain, Young Harry Dale, the drover, Comes riding home again. And well his stock-horse bears him, And light of heart is he, And stoutly his old pack-horse Is trotting by his knee.
Up Queensland way with cattle He travelled regions vast; And many months have vanished Since home-folk saw him last. He hums a song of someone He hopes to marry soon; And hobble-chains and camp-ware Keep jingling to the tune.
Beyond the hazy dado Against the lower skies And yon blue line of ranges The homestead station lies. And thitherward the drover Jogs through the lazy noon, While hobble-chains and camp-ware Are jingling to a tune.
An hour has filled the heavens With storm-clouds inky black; At times the lightning trickles Around the drover's track; But Harry pushes onward, His horses' strength he tries, In hope to reach the river Before the flood shall rise.
The thunder from above him Goes rolling o'er the plain; And down on thirsty pastures In torrents falls the rain. And every creek and gully Sends forth its little flood, Till the river runs a banker, All stained with yellow mud.
Now Harry speaks to Rover, The best dog on the plains, And to his hardy horses, And strokes their shaggy manes; â€˜We've breasted bigger rivers When floods were at their height Nor shall this gutter stop us From getting home to-night!'
The thunder growls a warning, The ghastly lightnings gleam, As the drover turns his horses To swim the fatal stream. But, oh! the flood runs stronger Than e'er it ran before; The saddle-horse is failing, And only half-way o'er!
When flashes next the lightning, The flood's grey breast is blank, And a cattle dog and pack-horse Are struggling up the bank. But in the lonely homestead The girl will wait in vainâ€” He'll never pass the stations In charge of stock again.
The faithful dog a moment Sits panting on the bank, And then swims through the current To where his master sank. And round and round in circles He fights with failing strength, Till, borne down by the waters, The old dog sinks at length.
Across the flooded lowlands And slopes of sodden loam The pack-horse struggles onward, To take dumb tidings home. And mud-stained, wet, and weary, Through ranges dark goes he; While hobble-chains and tinware Are sounding eerily. . . . . .
The floods are in the ocean, The stream is clear again, And now a verdant carpet Is stretched across the plain. But someone's eyes are saddened, And someone's heart still bleeds In sorrow for the drover Who sleeps among the reeds.