After a long life of droving Saltbush Bill is appointed a J.P. But he is disappointed to find no mention of pay until he finds, in his contract, the line "A magistrate may charge a pound/For inquest on a fire." Bill and the local indigenous population collude to make good use of this provision.
'The Australian Poetry Library (APL) aims to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of Australian poetry by providing access to a wide range of poetic texts as well as to critical and contextual material relating to them, including interviews, photographs and audio/visual recordings.
This website currently contains over 42,000 poems, representing the work of more than 170 Australian poets. All the poems are fully searchable, and may be accessed and read freely on the World Wide Web. Readers wishing to download and print poems may do so for a small fee, part of which is returned to the poets via CAL, the Copyright Agency Limited. Teachers, students and readers of Australian poetry can also create personalised anthologies, which can be purchased and downloaded. Print on demand versions will be availabe from Sydney University Press in the near future.
It is hoped that the APL will encourage teachers to use more Australian material in their English classes, as well as making Australian poetry much more available to readers in remote and regional areas and overseas. It will also help Australian poets, not only by developing new audiences for their work but by allowing them to receive payment for material still in copyright, thus solving the major problem associated with making this material accessible on the Internet.
The Australian Poetry Library is a joint initiative of the University of Sydney and the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL). Begun in 2004 with a prototype site developed by leading Australian poet John Tranter, the project has been funded by a major Linkage Grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC), CAL and the University of Sydney Library. A team of researchers from the University of Sydney, led by Professor Elizabeth Webby and John Tranter, in association with CAL, have developed the Australian Poetry Library as a permanent and wide-ranging Internet archive of Australian poetry resources.' Source: www.poetrylibrary.edu.au (Sighted 30/05/2011).Sydney : 2004-
The character of "Saltbush Bill" is introduced in this poem as a drover of sheep along "the track of the Overland", who stretches the "the law of the Great Stock Routes" by allowing his sheep to make use of all the good grass they find. On the occasion described in the poem, Bill's sheep have spread across a squatter's property. A Jackaroo arrives and attempts to drive the sheep back into the accepted "space of the half-mile track". An argument and then fight ensues between Bill and the Jackaroo, and, while Bill concedes after a marathon fight, in the end he achieves his aim of finding his sheep a good feed.
Saltbush Bill is droving his sheep towards Castlereagh and Stingy Smith, the owner of Hard Times Hill station is worried that Bill's sheep will ruin his run. He chances on a travelling tramp, and finding out the man is a fighter, arranges for him to get Bill into a fight and tells him it's "a five-pound job if you belt him well – do anything short of kill". When Bill arrives at the station, the tramp kicks his dog, starts a fight and beats Bill senseless. Bill has to recuperate for a week from his injuries, after which he and his sheep move on. It is only later that Stingy Smith comes to realise that he has been duped, and that Bill had arranged it all.
Saltbush Bill is again droving his sheep when he happens "on Take 'Em Down, the station of Rooster Hall." Rooster Hall is a follower of cock-fighting and Bill challenges him to a contest: his Australian bird against Hall's, a "clipt and a shaven cock, the pride of his English Game". But Bill has a trick up his sleeve and wins the contest by forfeit.
Saltbush Bill tells the story of a successful sheep farmer using the biblical story of Isaac and Jacob as a metaphor.