The roving breezes come and go, the reed beds sweep and sway,
The sleepy river murmurs low, and loiters on its way,
It is the land of lots o' time along the Castlereagh.
The old man's son had left the farm, he found it dull and slow,
He drifted to the great North-west where all the rovers go.
"He's gone so long," the old man said, "he's dropped right out of mind,
But if you'd write a line to him I'd take it very kind;
He's shearing here and fencing there, a kind of waif and stray,
He's droving now with Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh.
The sheep are travelling for the grass, and travelling very slow;
They may be at Mundooran now, or past the Overflow,
Or tramping down the black soil flats across by Waddiwong,
But all those little country towns would send the letter wrong,
The mailman, if he's extra tired, would pass them in his sleep,
It's safest to address the note to 'Care of Conroy's sheep',
For five and twenty thousand head can scarcely go astray,
You write to 'Care of Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh'."
By rock and ridge and riverside the western mail has gone,
Across the great Blue Mountain Range to take that letter on.
A moment on the topmost grade while open fire doors glare,
She pauses like a living thing to breathe the mountain air,
Then launches down the other side across the plains away
To bear that note to "Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh".
And now by coach and mailman's bag it goes from town to town,
And Conroy's Gap and Conroy's Creek have marked it "further down".
Beneath a sky of deepest blue where never cloud abides,
A speck upon the waste of plain the lonely mailman rides.
Where fierce hot winds have set the pine and myall boughs asweep
He hails the shearers passing by for news of Conroy's sheep.
By big lagoons where wildfowl play and crested pigeons flock,
By camp fires where the drovers ride around their restless stock,
And past the teamster toiling down to fetch the wool away
My letter chases Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh.First published
in The Bulletin
, 10 March 1894, and again in the same magazine on 22-29 December 1981;
and later inThe Man from Snowy River and Other Verses
by A. B Paterson, 1895;An Anthology of Australian Verse
edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse
edited by Bertram Stevens,1909;The Children's Treasury of Australian Verse
edited by Bertram Stevens,1913;Selections from the Australian Poets
edited by Bertram Stevens,1925;The Oxford Book of Australian Verse
edited by Walter Murdoch, 1945;Australia Fair: Poems and Paintings
edited by Douglas Stewart, 1974;The Collins Book of Australian Poetry
compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;The Collected Verse of A. B. Paterson
by A.B. Paterson, 1982;Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900
compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse
compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse
edited by Les Murray, 1986;Banjo Paterson's Poems of the Bush
by A.B. Paterson, 1987;The Banjo's Best-Loved Poems
compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie,1989;A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B.'Banjo' Paterson
by A.B. Paterson, 1990;Selected Poems: A.B. Paterson
compiled by Les Murray, 1992;A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism
edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose
compiled by Richard Hall, 1993;The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse
compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1996;Seven Centuries of Poetry in Englis
h edited by John Leonard, 2003;80 Great Poems From Chaucer to Now
edited by Geoff Page, 2006;Sixty Classic Australian Poems
edited by Geoff Page, 2009; andThe Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry
edited by John Leonard, 2009.Author reference sites: Austlit
, Australian Dictionary of Biography
, Australian Poetry Library