Blowfly Stew

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Blowfly Stew, Bush Poetry


The drovers cook’, conjures up all sorts of strange imagery and is linked to bush culture in just as many strange and imaginary ways. The light that drovers, and campers of all types, become accustomed to eating by, can sometimes call into question the exact origin of the meal.

Bush poetry by Ronnie Wilson

Back in Eighty-nine, when I was seventeen,
I had drifted to the outback for a look
And had found some brief employment with a local droving team,
My official title was the drovers cook

I had joined up with the team about ten miles west of Bourke,
On a ‘forty degree’ stinking summer day.
It was just three hours till tea-time and the men were still at work,
So I got stuck into cooking straight away.

The provisions were transported in an old worn out camper,
Which had already been stocked up by the crew.
They’d included the ingredients for about six tons of damper,
And about twenty-six tons of mutton stew.

It was the favourite and only meal they ever ate
‘Mutton stew’ for breakfast, lunch and tea,
So I thought on my first night that I’d serve them up a plate,
Of something new, created just by me.

But potato, onion, mutton and flour is all that I could find,
In the caravan which acted as a store.
Until I found some sweetened raisins hidden in behind,
A salt bag dated nineteen thirty-four.

I cooked them up a standard stew from an old bush recipe,
And then I threw my secret ingredients in.
With the extra raisin flavour it seemed tastier to me,
So I couldn’t wait for dinner to begin.

Id imagined these old drovers to be as tough as rusty wire,
And when they came in that was how they looked.
And one by one they each took a place around the fire,
To dig in to the feed that I had cooked.

The warm glow of the campfire was the only light about,
As I served up this new stew to my new mates.
So I was surprised to see them all pick the raisins out,
And push them to the edges of their plates.

As I cleaned up the dishes at the end of the night,
I saw every single raisin segregated.
They’d left every one behind in that campfire half-light,
And left my ego irreparably deflated.

The boss called me aside, so to whisper in my ear
And in a friendly way he told me what to do,
‘You have to leave the lid on, when you cook ‘round ‘ere,
Then you don’t get so many blowies in the stew!’

© Ronnie Wilson