The Platypus is unique to Australia with their webbed feet and duck bill. The adult will grow up to 65cms in length and can be found throughout Eastern Australia in clean rivers and streams. The platypus lays up to three eggs incubated by the mother. Platypus feed on insects, tadpoles, native flies, crustaceans, prawns etc.
Old Man Platypus
by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson.
Far from the trouble and toil of town,
Where the reed-beds sweep and shiver,
Look at a fragment of velvet brown --
Old Man Platypus drifting down,
Drifting along the river.
And he plays and dives in the river bends
In a style that is most elusive;
With few relations and few friends,
For Old man Platypus descends
From a family most exclusive.
He shares his burrow beneath the bank
With his wife and his son and daughter
At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank;
And the bubbles show where our hero sank
To its entrance under the water.
Safe in their burrow below the falls
They live in a world of wonder,
Where no one visits and no one calls
They sleep like little brown billiard balls
With their beaks tucked neatly under.
And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl
As he goes on his journey lonely;
For he's no relation to fish nor fowl,
Nor to bird, nor beast, nor to horned owl,
In fact, he's the one and only!
The Old Bark School
by Henry Lawson
It was built of bark and poles, and the floor was full of holes
Where each leak in rainy weather made a pool;
And the walls were mostly cracks lined with calico and sacks –
There was little need for windows in the school.
Then we rode to school and back by the rugged gully-track,
On the old grey horse that carried three or four;
And he looked so very wise that he lit the master's eyes
Every time he put his head in at the door.
He had run with Cobb and Co. – "that grey leader, let him go!"
There were men "as knowed the brand upon his hide",
And "as knowed it on the course". Funeral service: "Good old horse!"
When we burnt him in the gully where he died.
And the master thought the same. 'Twas from Ireland that he came,
Where the tanks are full all summer, and the feed is simply grand;
And the joker then in vogue said his lessons wid a brogue –
'Twas unconscious imitation, let the reader understand.
And we learnt the world in scraps from some ancient dingy maps
Long discarded by the public-schools in town;
And as nearly every book dated back to Captain Cook
Our geography was somewhat upside-down.
It was "in the book" and so – well, at that we'd let it go,
For we never would believe that print could lie;
And we all learnt pretty soon that when we came out at noon
"The sun is in the south part of the sky."
And Ireland! that was known from the coast-line to Athlone:
We got little information re the land that gave us birth;
Save that Captain Cook was killed (and was very likely grilled)
And "the natives of New Holland are the lowest race on earth".
And a woodcut, in its place, of the same degraded race
Seemed a lot more like a camel than the blackfellows that we knew;
Jimmy Bullock, with the rest, scratched his head and gave it best;
But his faith was sadly shaken by a bobtailed kangaroo.
But the old bark school is gone, and the spot it stood upon
Is a cattle-camp in winter where the curlew's cry is heard;
There's a brick school on the flat, but a schoolmate teaches that,
For, about the time they built it, our old master was "transferred".
But the bark school comes again with exchanges 'cross the plain –
With the Out-Back Advertiser; and my fancy roams at large
When I read of passing stock, of a western mob or flock,
With "James Bullock", "Grey", or "Henry Dale" in charge.
And I think how Jimmy went from the old bark school content,
With his "eddication" finished, with his pack-horse after him;
And perhaps if I were back I would take the self-same track,
For I wish my learning ended when the Master "finished" Jim.
The Shearers Dream
by Henry Lawson
O I dreamt I shore in a shearing shed and it was a dream of joy
For every one of the rouseabouts was a girl dressed up as a boy
Dressed up like a page in a pantomime the prettiest ever seen
They had flaxen hair they had coal black hair and every shade between
There was short plump girls there was tall slim girls and the handsomest ever seen
They was four foot five they was six foot high and every shade between
The shed was cooled by electric fans that was over every shoot
The pens was of polished mahogany and everything else to suit
The huts had springs to the mattresses and the tucker was simply grand
And every night by the billabong we danced to a German band
Our pay was the wool on the jumbucks' backs so we shore till all was blue
The sheep was washed afore they was shore and the rams were scented too
And we all of us cried when the shed cut out in spite of the long hot days
For every hour them girls waltzed in with whisky and beer on trays
There was three of them girls to every chap and as jealous as they could be
There was three of them girls to every chap and six of them picked on me
We was drafting them out for the homeward track and sharing them round like steam
When I woke with my head in the blazing sun to find it a shearer's dream
The Free Selector's Daughter
by Henry Lawson
I met her on the Lachlan-side, a darling girl I thought her,
And ere I left I swore I'd win the free-selector's daughter.
I milked her father's cows a month, I brought the wood and water,
I mended all the broken fence, before I won the daughter.
I listened to her father's yarns, I did just what I 'oughter',
And what you'll have to do to win a free-selector's daughter.
I broke my pipe and burnt my twist and washed my mouth with water;
I had a shave before I kised the free selector's daughter.
Then rising in the frosty morn, I brought the cows for Mary,
And when I'd milked a bucketful I took it to the dairy.
I poured the milk into the dish while Mary held the strainer,
I summoned heart to speak my wish and oh! her blush grew plainer.
I told her I must leave the place, I said that I would miss her;
At first she turned away her face and then she let me kiss her.
I put the bucket on the ground, and in my arms I caught her;
I'd give the world to hold again, that free-selector's daughter!
He triumphed during the Great Depression of the early 1930s, when a hero was most needed by the people of
Phar Lap the Poem
by Author Unknown
Where the thoroughbreds immortal
Graze in pastures evergreen,
And the steeds of song and story
Feel the touch of hands unseen,
There’s a whinny in the distance
And a pawing at the gate
As the big stout-hearted Phar Lap
Joins the Legion of the Great.
Where the great Domino is ranging
Over acres rich and fine,
And the coats of Sweep and Colin
In the brilliant sunlight shine
There’s a snorting in the shadows
And a pricking up of ears,
As another racing stalwart
On the borderline appears.
In the thoroughbred Valhalla,
Where the bravest-hearted go,
And there aren’t any seasons
When the bluegrass doesn’t grow
Where’s there no fierce grind of training,
And no further stakes to win,
There’s a stirring in the paddock
As another canters in.
In the Paradise of Horseflesh,
Where the gamest of the game
Frolic through an endless summer,
Done with glory and with fame,
Where no barriers spring upward,
And no turmoil fills the air,
Sysonby, Regret and Fair Play
Turn and greet the “Red Flash” there.
Up beyond the eyes of mortals
Where there’s ne’er a muddy track,
Where there are no gruelling stretch- runs
And no added weight to pack
Where the kings of far-flung ovals
Play and Scamper as they will,
There’s a neighing as the giant
Phar Lap gallops o’er the hill.
Where there are no “culls” or “cast-offs”
And no quitting “also rans”-
Wher all horses have a record
Treasured by the racing fans,
There’s a pawing and a neighing
Where the lion-hearted roam,
And a whinnying of welcome
Phar Lap-“Big Red”- has come home.
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