Poem - The Log Hauler

This Poem was written by Maurice Southcombe about the time in the timber industry when mechanical hauling machinery was presenting competition to the horse and bullock drawn whims. It really captures the feeling that was around at the time and the rivalry between the two methods of hauling the huge logs through the forest to the landings or the mills.

They were talking round the camp fire
As fallers mostly will
Of the log Big Jake had fallen
In the gully o’er the hill

A jarrah log, t’was eighty feet
In length from butt to crown
And sixteen feet at centre girth
No team could haul it down

On this the fallers all agreed
Though teamsters claimed they could
Old Whistler gave a laughing snort
“You’ll never haul that wood”

Now Whistler drove a hauler
A new fandangled thing
Which hauled logs through the densest bush
Like matches on a string


Old Tim, a teamster, jumped to arms
At this smirch upon their name
I’ll haul that log, or kill my team
A quid will back my claim

Old Whistler gave another taunt
Just try, that’s all you’ll do
And when you’ve failed I’ll take my rope
And haul the monster through

The bets were made and Whistler passed
His pound to Wally’s son
And Tim’s note too was held by him
To pay whoever won

Tim fed his team at break of day
Then walked towards the log
To pick a road down which to haul
He didn’t want to bog

And as he walked a thousand teams
From the past walked at his side
Imploring him to haul that log
And keep the teamsters pride

The team hitched to the nib iron
The whim was on it’s way
The great wheels turned and clanking chains
Announcing the coming fray

He straddled the wheels over the log
Then tipped the pole sky high
And hooked the chain to the massive arch
And gave a lusty sigh

Was the balance right, too much nose
T’would dig in like a spade
Too light on, and he’d never hold
The whim on downhill grade

He’d never lift that log they said
The chains would break and bend
The pole would break, the arch would snap
The flitchel stays would bend

But Tim had hitched his waiting team
To the pull down block and chain
And the team moved slowly forward
To take a steady strain

Tim stood with tie down chain in hand
And the watching crowd around
Saw the massive pole come slowly down
And the log lift from the ground


With nimble hands and flying chain
The pole and log were bound
And old Tim knew with beating heart
He’d won the first big round

The chains held firm as he eased the strain
Then checked that all was well
While scarce a breath was being drawn
In that tiny bushland dell

He softly spoke to his waiting team
They moved at the whispered sound
With straining chests, and slipping hooves
The wheels turned slowly round

And the balance it was perfect
As the team began to pull
The nose rose just above the ground
The weight was taken full

As the whim team slowly made it’s way
Tim’s eye held a happy gleam
No teamster ever worth the name
Would bow his head to steam

Though he cursed and swore at the struggling team
It was just the teamsters way
For his heart was filled with burning pride
And he loved his team that day

He paused before the last big rise
To give his team a rest
He stood and stroked the leader’s neck
Tim knew he gave his best

Then with a final rush and scrambling hooves
They claimed the last steep grade
Then downhill on the final run
To the landing in the glade

The team was well high floundered
As they stood with heaving flanks
But they’d won undying glory
And joined the noble ranks

And old Whistler was no welcher
As he rose up from his seat
And leapt from his iron monster
To make Tim’s day complete

I’m glad you won that bet he said
Oh I’m a sly old dog
I’d have burst the flaming boiler
If I’d tried to haul that log

Though years have passed and the clank of chain
Has turned to tractor’s roar
And the whistle of the hauler
In the bush is heard no more

But still they tell the story when
The olsters gather round
Of the day Tim hauled that mighty log
And won old Whistler’s pound

Reference: Article: Maurice Southcombe

Images: 1 Battye Library
2 Maurice Southcombe
3 State Library Of Western Australia
4 Pickering Brook Heritage Group