Once upon a time in a country far, far away a drover wandered the plains. His horse, a brown mere called Dollar, carried him and his swag without complaint. All she asked for was a regular feed and water. His dog, his loyal companion followed him wherever he went.
The rains were finished by now. Little creeks ran everywhere. The Bourke river meandered calmly, its banks lush and green. Birds chatted away. Kangaroos looked up briefly when he passed. He knew not too long from now it would all be back to brown and orange, and all things living would be hardpressed to survive. It was a good summer.
It was long after nightfall when he arrived at Kangaroo Station in northwest Queensland. A single carbide light was standing on a table outside the door, inviting him in. Inside everything was dark. So he decided to pull his swag out instead of going in and risk waking anyone. Dollar had found a patch of grass and was filling up. Drover rolled his swag out not far from her. He fell asleep almost immediately despite the rumbling in his own belly. Red Dog curled up beside him.
The next morning he was woken up by one of the station hands, a young bloke who asked if he wanted coffee. He quickly washed his face in the sink before he joined the others at the table. The grazier’s wife filled his plate with eggs, bacon, sausages and a thick slice of heavily butter bread. Drover was introduced to his ringers who would help him to take 600 head of cattle to the sale yard. The boy that had woken him turned out to be the grazier’s son. He would also be joining them.
After breakfast, the jackaroo brought them out to the cattle yards. The cows were restless, stuck in the yard. Like Drover, they were keen to get going. Seven horse – including two packhorses – four men and a boy, each accompanied by their own dog. Swags were secured, stores doublechecked. Everyone mounted their horses. Drover threw his gun over his shoulder before he shook the grazier’s hand. “Thanks, mate. Take care.”
They were off.
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