The Lonely Fettlers

Iron Road


” A song for our horny-handed mates who used to lash out the sleepers and rails off the ballast trains in record time, regardless of the weather. I have the utmost respect for the old gangers and their men, and certainly without them our railways would have stood still.

We’re just three lonely fettlers located right out West,
Midst heat and sand and desert we try to do our best;
Each morn at six you see us with shovels, bar and jack,
All day long through heat and dust, we toil along the track.

Our camp is on a sandhill, there’s nare a soul to meet,
‘Cept for a weary swagman who wandered off his beat;
Just twice a week arrives a train with our supplies,
Just old corn beef and taters, some bread, and jam and flies.

You’ve got the lot the guard says, then gives the rightaway,
That train’s our only visitor till our next ration day;
So listen all you fettlers who’ve never been outside the old suburban,

  1. Any day – come pop along our outback way,

You’ll get a family greeting, be sure you will not rust,
For water is so very scarce, you’ll eat your pound of dust;
Just keep your courage growing and keep your chin well up,
Then life will be worth living, for full will be your cup.

(By Railwayman Jim Gordon. The Retired Rail and Tramwayman magazine April 1940)