​Joe Harper

It was the hottest summer in years
The water bottle nearly boiled
So the story grows each year
This bloke was walking along the river
Surrounded by at least a million blowies
All fighting over his month old sweat

An battered old army hat sat atop his head
Sweat stains reaching to the top
The army gave it to him back in '43
They had plans for him and the Kokoda Trail
Then the Nips bombed Darwin so there he went
His only shot in anger brought down a rabbit

Used to have corks hanging from the brim
Keeping those bloody flies off his face
Over the years they all fell off
Strings dangling with flies landing on them
Spends his days swooshing away the bloody things
Calling them all the names under the sun

Walking next to him a red heeler named Blue
A mangy looking bugger, could use a bath and a feed
Been together for years, following him, always happy
Blue would catch their dinner often, a rabbit or
Maybe a wayward chook that wandered too far from home
A few times it was a snake and damper their meal

Joe Harper had been a swaggie for 20 years
He'd covered thousands of miles, some hot, some cold
Been wet through from pouring rain, had had four dogs
120 in the water bag is the worst, wearing his army coat
Heavy during summer but light as a feather during winter
His swag and his billy was all he carried

"Bloody hell" Bert King exclaimed "There's a swarm of flies"
Bert had been there a day waiting for his mates
"Shut up you bloody old bastard" Joe retorted
"You've taken up fly farmin' have ya?"
"No, I'm training them for a bloody circus"
"This bloody bastard of a place is always full of flies"

After a cup of tea it was time for his monthly bath
A cake of velvet soap had lasted him over a year
Half an hour was spent on him, his clothes and Blue
Joe and Blue were clean, disappointing the million flies
Blue was gone for nearly an hour, returning with a rabbit
The first night in Donald they feasted on rabbit and damper