Far to the Northward there lies a land, A wonderful land that the winds blow over, And none may fathom nor understand The charm it holds for the restless rover; A great grey chaos -- a land half made, Where endless space is and no life stirreth; And the soul of a man will recoil afraid From the sphinx-like visage that Nature weareth. But old Dame Nature, though scornful, craves Her dole of death and her share of slaughter; Many indeed are the nameless graves Where her victims sleep by the Grey Gulf-water.
Slowly and slowly those grey streams glide, Drifting along with a languid motion, Lapping the reed-beds on either side, Wending their way to the Northern Ocean. Grey are the plains where the emus pass Silent and slow, with their staid demeanour; Over the dead men's graves the grass Maybe is waving a trifle greener. Down in the world where men toil and spin Dame Nature smiles as man's hand has taught her; Only the dead men her smiles can win In the great lone land by the Grey Gulf-water.
For the strength of man is an insect's strength In the face of that mighty plain and river, And the life of a man is a moment's length To the life of the stream that will run for ever. And so it cometh they take no part In small-world worries; each hardy rover Rideth abroad and is light of heart, With the plains around and the blue sky over. And up in the heavens the brown lark sings The songs that the strange wild land has taught her; Full of thanksgiving her sweet song rings -- And I wish I were back by the Grey Gulf-water.
The Bulletin, 11 December 1897