Employment History




Year twelve at school was all complete - achieved no uni scores

What happened then for me I knew - would be something out of doors

I had already done some manual work - raised a sweat and toiled all day

In shearing sheds I learnt the ropes - and carted bales of hay


But there were pickers wanted we were told - no experience be required

Just join the queue in Shepparton - and you will soon be hired

So we ride the train from Hamilton - via Melbourne to get us there

And learn all about a hardy fruit - the humble Packhams Pear


The Dole Office queue saw Pope and I - in line with others new

Then were filed into a mini bus - with others of a picking crew

And before we knew it we were there - our destination was in view

Large timber crates in one long row - formed a welcome avenue

Several basic timber huts - had two single bunks in each

A musty smell needed airing out - or could make a man dry reach 

 We’re delegated to room number four - and a mozzie coil was lit

The walls had gaps so long and wide - much larger animals could fit

But sleep was had before daybreak - up early and on with the day

We decided to fill a bin of fruit - once we were shown the way

And before we ate we had it filled - right to the very top

One hour on at brekky gathered - sat around the table top


Here we talked of hiring monkeys - to pick the entire crop

Or find a tall and agile robot - that could pick and never stop

One steel ladder and one neck bag - were our only tools of trade

With pears still green and hard as rocks - $14.00 per bin were paid


We worked there till the very end - till all the pears were taken away

When the orchardist offered both of us - more  work if we would stay

But we declined his offer - and said it had been fun
So we rolled our swags moved along - to a canning job we'd won



© Daryl Barnes 2016
In the pub at lunch time – not a great impression
We spent our money in the town – were settled in for a session
We played a game of pool or two – to help fill in the time
Spending hours at the local – could not be called a crime
Leaning on the public bar – slow and steady the beers went down
We had the place almost to ourselves – on this week-day in our town
But we had heard behind our backs – of the future in front of us
By only working seasonal – for some, this would cause a fuss
The publican came and sat between us – and bought a round of beers
A councillor was Evan Watson – successful amongst his peers
He’d brought with him a message – gave us something to think about
He said Prime Minister Fraser – had an offer worth checking out
Mr Watson outlined the proposition – this bold and clever plan
Then organised a meeting with – the PM’s right-hand man
He had us full-time jobs we’re told – at his Melbourne’s Mentone plant
It came with accommodation – we were told he’d also grant
So, would the making of plastic products – for us be satisfactory
Working on a production line – in some Nylex city factory
There’d be twelve-hour shifts involved with this – rotated night and day
Monday to Friday every week – a guarantee of good pay
We packed our bags and off we went – each of us made the move
To take on our new city jobs – with a point also to prove
That us country bumpkins – could make a successful switch
From bush living to the city – without a single hitch
We made a start and learnt the job – soon a routine was in place
Everything became familiar – in this urban sprawling rat-race
We learnt to work beside a Turk – a Yugoslav and Greek
We had difficulty understanding – when they were trying to speak
When a TV crew came on the scene – only Paul and I remained
Full-time jobs they went unfilled – Mr Frazer he had claimed
Providing men a full-time job – he took on the task himself
Then pointed his finger at the Employment Service – ‘Take a good look at yourself’
But when we denied our registration – this reduced his credibility
Of course we heard no more about it – in case of more humility
But the TV story aired that night – plus an article in the paper
No more statements came to light – about this mixed up caper
For the blokes we worked with – rising movie stars we were
But soon it faded out of mind – eventually to be just a blur
And we all got on with the job at hand – making plastic night and day
When Paul accepted an apprenticeship – which ended his short stay
I persevered and did progress – from the boring production line
But my girlfriend moved to Brisbane – which signalled time to resign
Two years I lasted at this job – I’d given it my best shot
In my time in Melbourne city – I’d turned twenty one and learnt a lot

 © Daryl Barnes 2016



On the farm my Dad had cows – but sheep were number one

So shearing them was inevitable – although learning was no fun

My Dad taught me all he knew – one older brother was a shearer

Whilst he was a left-hand shearer – his tips did make things clearer


John Tucker offered me a job – my first learner shearer’s pen

But I still had many problems – help was offered now and then

Blisters grew from a hot handpiece – I had tape plastered everywhere

I was never going to shear a tally – but that, I did not care


More tips I got from other blokes – that can certainly be said

For three days I did the best I could – and helped cut-out the shed

When the cheques were handed out – on the shed landing we all sat

Once the alcohol took control – the pain it eased the more we chat


Next day my brother Neville called – needed two shearers in a flash

Peter Woolley and himself – to another shed they had to dash

Jim Brody had some weaner sheep – in an old two-stand shed

Needed to get them out real quick – so they could be properly fed


So Jimmy Shaw accompanied me – both nervous I confess

Both young and willing learners – both wanting to impress

So we arrived and ready to go – a deadline we had to meet

It looked a daunting task – to empty this shed of sheep


Limbered up with a stretch or two – bend down to touch the toes

Always glancing at the timing clock – a shearer’s habit I suppose

A handpiece new and ready – all set and liberally oiled

Warmed up the petrol motor – time for new clothes to now get soiled


Seven thirty on the dot – in through the revolving door

To make a first selection – and roll it to the floor

Drag the sheep onto the board – and manoeuvre to position

Kick the handpiece into gear – now starts the competition


You see neither of us had ever shorn – one hundred sheep a day before

And we knew we would go close – if we kept the pedal to the floor

So this could be our lucky day – when history would be made

And of course, the more you do – the more that you get paid


We both soon raised a dripping sweat – shearing along one for one

Regular we took in water – striving hard to reach that ton

Grabbed the towel to wipe the brough – turned the radio up a notch

A worn out cutter it got replaced – and the boss was there on watch


Well five thirty finally came round – and we each, left with a smile

Our target tally had been achieved – all the effort was made worthwhile

With one hundred and two for me – Jim had shorn two less

This made the beer at the local pub – taste very sweet I’ll confess


The next day we returned to Brody’s – to cut-out the weaner mob

And by late afternoon we got it done – it was the end to that current job

Mr Brody was a happy man – his sheep were now all white

And Jim and I, had what we were after – and now, we both could skite


© Daryl Barnes 2016




The school year was now complete – for me at Casterton High

Now six long weeks of holidays – then give year twelve a try

For Stuart Ian and I – we chose work instead of play

An opportunity we accepted – that of carting bales of hay


Evenly spread in paddocks lay – and waited to be addressed

Were twenty seven thousand bales – that all looked neatly pressed

They belonged to Mr Learmonth – who owned Barama Station

He offered us a chance to make – some money during our vacation


So a caravan was towed to site – for our accommodation

This was kindly provided by – a very close relation

Whilst no-one held a driving licence – we each could safely drive

Brian’s faith in us was high – so to confirm his trust, we’d strive


There was Pete and Sandra Smith – who lived and worked the farm

Pete was ever ready – whilst Sandra had the charm

Pete’s the farm mechanic – Sandra made water bottle ice

They were warm and welcoming – very friendly and both nice


Supplied to cart the hay for us – from paddock to each stack

Were two old Bedford trucks – with timber trays at back

Dodgy brakes and a faulty clutch – a missing window winder

A whining diff and gearbox noise – a broken windscreen wiper


But both trucks they started regular – open choke and pump the pedal

Whilst the steering wheel vibrated – engines ran smooth when idle

A wheel-driven hay bale loader – a petrol-driven shed stacker

Maintenance on equipment high – all hardly worth a cracker


But we persevered and managed – with patience being the key

And a sense of humour was a plus – that I could guarantee


Working in the elements – was mostly good but could be bad

With pesky tiny bush flies – some days would drive us mad

Burr and seed got everywhere – soon filled up both our socks

Add heat and wind to straw and dust – it could end up in our jocks


The nylon twine on every bale – caused gloves to soon wear through

It felt like a kind of cutting tool – on both palms and fingers too

Blistered areas were padded up – what else was there to do

And as days went by the sheds got filled – and the work we toughened to


We each took a turn behind the wheel – to rotate the working load

Narrow gateways creeks and hills – sometimes a gravel road

If bales fell from a loaded truck – the driver would say ‘twas poorly stacked

Sometimes bales were long and loose – often a challenge that’s a fact


A daylight start and on dusk we’d end – with a siesta round midday

Each truck we’d fit one fifty on – tried for ten of these per day

A shower of rain or heavy dew – would try to slow us down

And problems with equipment – would also cause a frown


Four cents per bale divide by three – that’s what we got for pay

We were young and fit and keen – and worked hard every day

It was a task that we did meet – eighteen days we’d stay

At the Barrama Pastoral Company – there was no time to play




With my pockets full of money – time for another year of school

Education was the focus – I knew that was the rule

But when that year was over – we were invited once again

To cart hay back at Barrama – of this, I did not complain


Ten thousand bales of hay to cart – numbers well down this time

A changing of the times had came – with new machinery design

Hay in rolls were now the go – that took up fifteen of the small

Made less work for us three boys – but this didn’t bother us at all



© Daryl Barnes 2016

Blackjack on your Hat


Time is spent before you start – to get inducted onto site

Mine rules and regulations – obey them all and you’ll be right

Hard hat gloves and safety glasses – always wear them day or night

You won’t be going underground – so your hat won’t need a light


To inspect mobile mine equipment – means it’s gonna need a clean

This requires some special people – call in a contractor team

On maintenance days and shutdowns – men everywhere are seen

Like busy worker ants all day – attending to their queen


Paperwork gets done and signed – now time to start some work

Clothes to keep you safe and seen – steel capped boots and flouro shirt

Pull on a set of coveralls – to keep out grease and dirt

And for every moment on the job – make sure you stay alert


A decommissioned dragline sleeps – with no movement now to fear

The power has been isolated – so access is all clear

Covers and panels all get removed – to expose revolving gear

Large teeth that mesh to drive the beast – electric motors at the rear


An open man-hole in you go – you’ll need to bend your back

Drag yourself around the floor – to move around the rack

Take a lead light along with you – to show up any crack

Don’t come out until you’re done – removing all blackjack


Yes there’s blackjack here and blackjack there – it’s almost everywhere

Whether it is soft or it is hard – you’ll get dirty I declare

You scrape it off you degrease it clean – parts checked for wear and tear

Some can be stuck on tight like glue – which can make you want to swear


You look forward to the end of shift – after crawling like a rat

Whether revolving frame propels or tub – it pays not to be too fat

The outside has its share as well –roof boom and mast there will be tack

And by being extra careful – won’t stop you getting some on your hat



© Daryl Barnes 2016


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