By Rupert McCall


In the lifeblood of this nation and its first inhabitation

From the journey of the dreamtime and its great nomadic spear

To the magical expanses where the wide horizon dances

With the monumental challenge of the early pioneer


There has always been a mission in the greater expedition

With an aura of adventure rising proudly from the fray

In this land of truth and beauty, there exists a sense of duty

To explore the possibilities and somehow find a way


We regale the ride of Archer on his Melbourne Cup departure

And the tale of terra firma in the book of Burke and Wills

Then the shivers that deliver with the Man from Snowy River

Not to mention good old Smithy and his aeronautic skills!


On a theme of epic distance, they are stories of persistence

Now emerging from the legend, here’s another Aussie fella

With an unsung mantra measured as a true Australian treasure

In this year of proud centenary, I give you Bert Borella!


From the graft of Borung granges where he served the local Rangers

On the farmlands of Victoria, his shooting skills were laid

With his father to inspire, then went north to till at Tyrah

But returned to put out fires for the Eastern Hill Brigade


Well regarded, able-handed, it was there the notice landed

Of a farming opportunity the Territory spun

With a pair of pals beside him so the Daly River tied him

To a life of flood and hardship when the banking day was done

For the story and its teller, this is where we find Borella

In the middle of a quandary to repay the loans he took

Heading south with frontier players in a party of surveyors

Where he acted in employment as their charismatic cook!


But the job was unfulfilling and his restlessness was spilling

Into something else that called him with its patriotic fist

“Bugger this!” he mumbled (as the war in Europe rumbled)

“For my King and for my country, I’m a man who must enlist”


When the plan came to fruition, Tennant Creek marked his position

With his native tribal tracking mate, old Charlie by his side

And with Darwin’s distant station as the newfound destination

Lace your boots and saddle up, we’re goin’ for a ride!


No Barkly Highway paving, No, it’s bush that we’ll be braving!

Though the lines installed for telegraph provide a solid course

And the 89 miles walking has the cockatoo’s tongue talking

With a blister and some sunburn then you borrow someone’s horse!


And it’s not a time for stalling – there’s a foreign battle calling!

So it’s on the path at Powell’s Creek, the mode of transport shifts

To the gallop and the banter with the kangaroos in canter

Over troughs and peaks and flooded creeks, the daily drama drifts!


But the horses’ passion tires when another plan conspires

It’s the mailman who delivers and, on him, you can depend

Yes it’s hot and wet and muggy, so we climb up on his buggy

And we hitch a lift to Pine Creek where the railhead tracks extend!


A thousand Ks were travelled when this escapade unravelled

As with modesty, he conquered every hurdle that he met

But if Darwin’s due arrival seemed a story of survival

For Borella, it was just a place to settle up his debt


What also made him nervous – here, he couldn’t sign for service

No, he’d have to sail to Townsville for his right to fight the foe

And a song of good will started when the Aldenham departed

Yes the crowd sang Tipperary was a long, long way to go…


But I guess they didn’t figure that the picture here was bigger

They had no way of knowing how unspeakable that war

Nor the future of the fella known as Albert C Borella

Nor the bloodshed he’d encounter, nor the horror that he saw


You can mark it on his visa from the pyramids of Giza

To the trenches of Gallipoli where hell was commandeered

He emerged with reassurance as a soul of great endurance

As a soldier, as a sergeant and lieutenant most revered


Yet for gallantry judicious in a courage most conspicuous

The war was on the Western Front, the year Nineteen Eighteen

And with zero inclination for his own self preservation

In a stoush at Villers-Bretonneux, his quality was seen


Now the history book determines that he cleared a post of Germans

Through the chaos of a bullet storm, defiantly he strives

And with every instinct heeded, then he captures what was needed…

His comrades swear profoundly that he saved their bloody lives!


So with gratitude accorded, immortality awarded

When the highest act of valour pinned a VC to his chest

Yet beneath that medal’s lustre and the fanfare and the bluster

The truth of what he fought for is eternally possessed


At a soldier’s great insistence, for his mates, he went the distance

For the freedom of his country, he was selfless in his aim

For the values that were feeding from the grass roots of his breeding

In the famous Anzac spirit, lives the honour of his name

And, with that, I give my blessing to the pride that you’re possessing

As you emulate his passage on the road that folklore tars

Travel safely as you motion with commitment and devotion

For his legacy, rejoice beneath that Cross of Southern stars


May they shine as something stellar for the grace of Bert Borella

May his ghost be at your shoulder as your guardian and guide

And with inspiration piling, may Australia keep on smiling

In other words, go forth my friends and please… enjoy the ride!


Rupert McCall 2015