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TIM BORTHWICK

Biography by Harper Collins Publishing Australia (link to their website -: Website)   

"Tim Borthwick is a Bronze Swagman Award-winning writer of original bush poetry.
From a young age he loved to read the poems of Banjo Peterson and Henry Lawson,
captivated by their ability to tell a story through rhyme and rhythm.
Born on a sheep and cattle station in western Queensland, Tim has spent most of his life on the land,
and has a great love for the people and stories of the Australian outback.
Tim lives in Toowoomba, Queensland, and gets out to the bush whenever he can."

Postscript - Sadly, Tim died on July 26th 2018, aged 48, a few weeks after he emailed us this wonderful poem.
Copies of his 2017 published work, "Waltzing Australia" can be obtained online,
a series of 50 poems & stories capturing the flavour and uniqueness of living and working in the bush.
There is also an audio version available narrated by Jack Thompson.

 

The poem below is reproduced with permission from Tim and more recently, his family.

 

"LEN BEADELL"

A poem by Tim Borthwick

 

4000 miles of dusty roads is how he rose to fame
Along with other accolades to be a household name
Through desert scrub and rock and sand he pioneered the way
And left behind a legacy we still admire today

Surveyor, bushman, artist, he was charged with building roads
A small construction party with no proper fixed abodes
From camps out in the mulga where the men would nightly doss
To undulating ridges where they built their roads across

"The last of the explorers" in a truly special line
His roads still stretch forever as an everlasting sign
That Len Beadell has been here and it’s pretty plain to see
That most of his endeavours were for folk like you and me

His office was the outback and his hours mostly late
A dinner camp out in the scrub where hungry drivers ate
A swag beneath the canopy of half a million stars
The Southern Cross in situ sending down her silver bars

He opened up the country through Australia’s arid heart
Ambition for adventure and commitment from the start
Part bushman, part surveyor, he was thinking on the run
While taking precious readings from the stars and from the sun

And one of his successes was a road ‘gunbarrel’ straight
So straight in fact that label has been added to its fate
For now that great long "highway" is an avid punter’s dream
Another great achievement for his small construction team

The ‘highways’ he constructed would be given family names
Another road of dirt and dust that modestly proclaims
Another family member who’s remembered for all time
Another dedication done one day at dinner time

The "Gary", the "Gunbarrel", then he built the "Anne Beadell"
And then the "Jackie Junction" for his youngest girl as well
All roads that led to somewhere all strategically aligned
The course was roughly settled and then cleverly refined

There wouldn’t be a single doubt of what he used to do
And some of that is seen today along the "Connie Sue"
Another of his "highways" with another daughter’s name
Another job completed with his family in the frame

And other roads and landmarks were all christened by Beadell
Appearing on the maps today and documented well
His legacy’s still written on the pathways that he blazed
A sterling contribution that’s astounded and amazed

With breakdowns by the dozen and with punctures by the score
That figure in his hob nailed boots and socks he never wore
Would propagate a legend that has quickly grown legs
He’d deviate his "highways" to avoid a nest of eggs

A nice old white gum in the way would be left standing still
The road may be diverted to take in a pretty hill
But mostly it was straight ahead, by far the quickest route
Where Len Beadell would plot the path then find a road to suit

He’d reconnoitre on ahead to see what he could find
And flash his little mirror to the men who came behind
He’d forge on through the mulga scrub and spinifex and sand
In both a broad and beautiful but unforgiving land

That little flashing mirror was the sign to alter course
The dozer and the grader men would follow to its source
With Len out in the distance in his faded old khaki
The old Land Rover lurching as she bounced from tree to tree

So very quick at humour and a whiz at pulling teeth
A master bush mechanic both on top and underneath
An author and an artist he was clever and astute
A pioneer of modern times and family man to boot

Now Len Beadell has made his camp where old road builders go
But sometimes on those starry nights I see a fire’s glow
I see an old Land Rover in amongst the scrub and rocks
A smiling chap in hob nailed boots, with never any socks

For Len’s construction party has departed in the breeze
But sometimes I hear voices as they whisper through the trees
From camps out on the "highways" when another day is done
Another stretch completed by the setting of the sun

And Len returning later from his sojourn up ahead
To fix a few more tyres when the camp has gone to bed
Then calculate his readings to ensure he is on track
For errors in this country meant a very long way back

I hear the tractors roaring as they penetrate the scrub
Then engines idled backwards as their drivers grab some grub
A dinner camp for half an hour then off they go again
To open up another path through difficult terrain

I hear the jokes and laughter as another road is made
Another "highway" opened with a really lovely grade
500 miles from here to there was often its extent
And most of it "gunbarrel" straight and very seldom bent

He was a mighty character, of that there’s little doubt
His name’s become a legend for his efforts further out
With fortitude and enterprise he built each dusty mile
With courage and conviction and with that laconic smile

The evidence is out there in the centre of our land
In all those roads and "highways" he meticulously planned
And when we come together with a yarn or tale to tell
From camp to dinner table we’ll remember Len Beadell.

 

Copyright -: family of Tim Borthwick

 

 

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