The Poetry of Brian Langley


MacDonnell’s Creek

This poem is a more or less factual account of part of the lives of my paternal Grandparents,
John Henry (Jack) Langley  and Marion Francis  (Polly) Gliddon

 MacDonnell’s Creek lies in the northern Flinders Ranges area of South Australia.

It rises in the region east of the modern day township of Lyndhurst, eventually emptying what little water flows,
into the normally dry salt lake, Lake Blanche

Like most watercourses in the area, it is normally a wide, sandy, dry riverbed, along the
 banks of which grow substantial rivergum trees

On the odd occasion when in rains (usually as the result of monsoonal cyclones in the country’s north west)
the creeks and rivers flow and flood for a few short days, rapidly returning to their normal dry conditions.

Jack Langley was employed at Trinity Well, an outstation of Murnpeowie (now just a ruin) as a waterman.

His main job was to ensure that the sheep and horses had adequate water. 
This was supplied by a steam driven pump, which sucked water from under the sandy bed of
MacDonnell’s Creek, and filled a series of stone and cement tanks and troughs.  

I visited Trinity in 1994 and it was that visit that inspired this poem

In a land where not much grows

But spinifex and the desert rose

There’s a watercourse that seldom flows

Its called MacDonnell’s Creek


But even though the land’s near bare

Beneath the sand there's water there

Enough, and just a bit to spare

Below MacDonnell’s Creek


For every fifteen years or so

The rains come down, the rivers flow

And water fills the sands below

Remote MacDonnell’s Creek


To Trinity, in ninety four

Jack Langley came to run the bore

That sucked the water from the floor

Of dry MacDonnell’s Creek


The bore pump ran on steam and fire

A heap of  wood did it require

And getting it made Jack perspire

Down by MacDonnell’s Creek


And so he wore, near every day

A flannel neck cloth, strong and grey

With which to wipe the sweat away

There by McDonnell’s Creek


For Jack, it was a lonely life

Without the company of a wife

Just horses, sheep and wildlife

Out by MacDonnell’s Creek


When water in the creek did flow

To Village Well, young Jack would go

Just down the track, a day or so

West from MacDonnell’s Creek


To woo a maiden, young and fair

Sweet Polly G with golden hair

Girls like that were rather rare

Out by MacDonnell’s Creek


So Jack and Polly, they were wed

The preacher came, the vows were said

They made their home by the sandy bed

Of dry MacDonnell’s Creek


This is the first 1/3 of the poem,  Read the poem in its entirety in my booklet  "The Forest and Other Verses"


(c)  Brian Langley   January  2004

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