In the Storm that is to come
~ Henry Lawson (1904)
By our place in the midst of the furthest seas we were fated to stand alone -
When the nations fly at each other's throats let Australia look to her own;
Let her spend her gold on the barren west, let her keep her men at home;
For the South must look to the South for strength in the storm that is to come.
Now who shall gallop from cape to cape, and who shall defend our shores -
The crowd that stand on the kerb agape and glares at the cricket scores?
And who will hold the invader back when the shells tear up the ground -
The weeds that yelp by the cycling track while a nigger scorches round?
There may be many to man the forts in the big towns beside the sea -
But the East will call to the West for scouts in the storm that is to be:
The West cries out to the East in drought, but the coastal towns are dumb;
And the East must look to the West for food in the war that is to come.
The rain comes down on the Western land and the rivers run to waste,
When the city folk rush for the special tram in their childless, senseless haste,
And never a pile of a lock we drive - but a few mean tanks we scratch -
For the fate of a nation is nought compared with the turn of a cricket match!
There's a gutter of mud where there spread a flood from the land-long western creeks,
There is dust and drought on the plains far out where the water lay for weeks,
There's a pitiful dam where a dyke should stretch and a tank where a lake should be,
And the rain goes down through the silt and sand and the floods waste into the seas.
We'll fight for Britain or for Japan, we will fling the land's wealth out;
While every penny and every man should be used to fight the drought.
God helps the nation that helps itself, and the water brings the rain,
And a deadlier foe than the world could send is loose on the western plain.
I saw a vision in days gone by and would dream that dream again
Of the days when the Darling shall not back her billabongs up in vain.
There were reservoirs and grand canals where the Dry Country had been,
And a glorious network of aqueducts, and the fields were always green.
I have seen so long in the land I love what the land I love might be,
Where the Darling rises from Queensland rains and the floods run into the sea.
And it is our fate that we'll wake too late to the truth that we were blind,
With a foreign foe at our harbour gate and a blazing drought behind!
Waiting and watching today. There was a storm in Canberra last night and our power went off. Unbelievable. It was as if we were experiencing sympathy pains with Far North Queensland. We had to scrabble for torches, candles and the battery-operated radio. It's bucketing down now. It will be hard to concentrate on anything else today but the news coverage about the extent of the damage.