Mt Bartle Frere (SLQ Image)
Away before the stretching eyes
The little valley lies,
And who would not be out with me along the tropic way?
We sipped the wine of old romance when we were fresh and strong,
But that was many years ago and many miles along!
Ah, me, to breathe the golden air of Farthest North to-day!
Who knows the deep entrancing blue
In Murray Prior's1 view?
Or climbs again the coastal ridge to clamber Bartle Frere2 ?
Whose eyes recall the sombre spread of bending fields of cane
When coloured evens richly glowed to trash fires on the wane?
Ah me, to be in Queensland when the night star shimmers there!
Below the gorge's purple gloom
The valley gardens bloom,
And winding past the mountain road the Mulgrave beckons here;
To the emerald South Pacific and the ancient Coral Seas,
The Barron hurtles forward with her rhyme of centuries.
Ah me, to be in Queensland when the north sun glitters there!
The storm – the cyclone season's best –
Tears frantic to the west
As outposts on the waterfront are stamped and driven through;
The time-built, time-worn Barrier sinks back in old-time pain
To meet the flashing fury of the foam fiend once again –
Ah me, a million victims grin a welcome for the new!
Still I have seen the broad pale moon
Change tropic nights to noon;
And I have seen the summer smile at Cairns and Innisfail;
Lantanas blazed their impudence down edgeways from the heat,
But crotons and hibiscus hearts flush hot-blood welcomes sweet –
Ah me, when tropic calls ring clear can southern pleas prevail?
Victor Kennedy (1927)
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1 A mountain range to the east of Cairns, named after Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, (1819-92) Queensland MLC, Post-Master General, and father of 20 children!
2 The highest mountain in Queensland, at 1622 metres, approximately 50 km south of Cairns
Compare this poem to The Barron Falls by James Sweeney