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When this land was first settled and her virgin soil unfenced
a solution was needed before the farming commenced,
the problem was to find the stock roaming foothills and track
most were untrained and answered not a voice calling them back.
‘twas long before the barbed wire fences cut across the land,
before the squatters stole it from the poor native blacks hand.
The natives hunted kangaroo with woomera and spear
they farmed no sheep or cattle, had no need to keep roos near.
One thing that most folks noticed was that sound here carried well.
Some bloke recalled his misspent youth and thought of the cowbell.
The squatters and cockies thought it might be a solution.
No one back in those days gave a thought to noise pollution.
And so it came to pass that squatters belled their flocks that roamed,
Bullocks wore a seven pound bell whose sound carried to home;
the same bell suited camels, led by Afghan cameleers
whilst turkey flocks wore smaller bells more dulcet to the ears.
The blokes who made the bells were mostly country blacksmiths who
took great pride in their workmanship, made the odd bell or two
and soon a competition between two blacksmiths arose
to prove whose bell had the best sound. This kept them on their toes.
A smithie out of Wagga name of August Menneke
fashioned his bells from German steel for all the town to see.
‘The Wagga Pot’ the teamsters named it – they were on his side,
and his bell really hit the spot – induced some Wagga pride.
From Albury another bloke Tony Mongan by name
also produced a bell he thought should have a share of fame.
A contest held between the two on top Mt Kosciusko
proved Menneke the winner for his bell rang out with gusto.
And it was clearly heard they said over ten miles away.
He was North Wagga’s favourite son upon that special day.
And still today the town of Wagga touts his name with pride,
though the Murrumbidgee waters do still his failures hide.
You might luck on a ‘Bullfrog Bell’ built out at Condamine
that sounds just like a Bullfrog’s croak not some sweet tinkly chime.
Bells made from brass, some made from iron, some made from old saw blades,
each one a smithies work of art – blokes expert in their trades.
The bells have fallen out of use since teamsters disappeared
though some are rung in shearing sheds as time for smoko neared.
They’re sometimes found at rodeo’s annoying bucking bulls...
attached tight to the flank strap while on top sit grinning fools.
In Museums one might spot them and some grace rustic displays -
but the western bells are quiet now – gone with the good old days.
see some scribbles here - http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/