A poem that has captured the spirit of the hugely popular golden jubilee celebrations for the Longreach Pastoral College is gaining lots of traction on social media.
Written by the Jumbuck Motel manager, Peter Byster, who booked in and checked out many of the attendees, it was shared on Facebook during the week, with an immediate response.
According to Peter’s boss, Alison Mobbs, who shared the poem, it has had a reach of around 30,000 so far, with 189 people sharing it.
“He was really touched by the conversations he’d had, and to see how the weekend reignited the energy they had when they were young,” she said. “Peter has a fantastic way of connecting with our guests and you can see that in his poem.
Peter himself said he was “privileged to be working at the Jumbuck” during that time.
“I really wanted to call this ‘Time Travel’ because that's exactly what happened – a pretty amazing moment,” he said.
The 50th Ag Reunion
He stood across the counter, said "Mate, I'm checking in"
In dusty boots and work shirt, with a tired old country grin
He said "I'm here for the ag reunion, but I have to cancel my last night
It's tough at home, there's work to do, and the monies pretty tight"
Well I booked his room, while he grabbed a beer.....the journey had been long
And I asked him when he'd studied, when he'd last been here in town
He said "I was in the class of 59, I had a few good friends.
But haven't really kept in touch, you see, I've worked around since then
"I doubt I'll be remembered, I should have stayed and worked the run
But the drought has really worn us down, and the missus made me come"
I saw him leave for dinner, and, though the chips were down
He had dressed with pride in his country best, for the journey into town
Well he must have been remembered, somebody knew his name
Cause the bloke that returned from dinner was sixteen once again!
His step was filled with purpose, his eyes were shining bright
Full of life, he told me stories, all the memories shared that night
Of days with rules and consequence, of long days in the scrub,
Of hiding grog in ceilings, and night forays to the pub
He laughed about the trenches that he had dug and then filled in
And dinners he'd missed out on, when they'd found out where he'd been
But most of all, he talked of mateship, of the lessons that he'd learned
And the life-skills he'd developed, and the future he had earned
And I watched the years roll off him, saw the lad he once had been
And I realised this reunion was worth much more that I had seen
It was like a summer rainstorm, that falls on parched, dry ground,
Refreshing life and bringing hope, giving strength to stick around
It validates a lifetime, of struggle hard and long,
Renews old bonds and friendships, and keeps them bright and strong
And that bloke, he's heading homeward now, back to drought and dust
Back to hard decisions, and to do the things he must
For its a hard life he had chosen, but he hasn't given in
Though the days are long and tiring, he's in it thick and thin
And the days here at the College, well they hold a special hue
A dream of wealth, through sweat and blood, by the actions of a few
And I know that, in the days ahead, through the lonely toil and grind
He'll stop and smile when he remembers, that class of '59
– Peter Byster, Jumbuck Motel
The response from around the web has been heatfelt:
“Wonderful, Peter! Captures the joys and sorrows of outback life - well done,” said one commentator.
“My friend you have a beautiful and amazing talent that’s as Aussie as two up and cattle dogs. You seriously need to put these on paper brother cause they deserve to be shared,” said another.
According to Kay Jones, Peter had “captured the emotion and camaraderie to perfection”.
You can read more about Peter’s own story and his understanding of the plight of people in western Queensland here.