Explores the passage of Australian poetry from 1788 to the early 1970s, discussing why the anthology focuses on 'articulate, personal poetry', and is weighted toward the fruitful period after 1930. Highlights important themes and concerns of Australian poetry - the quest for an Antipodean Eden, the pursuit of Romantic idealism within a strongly secular culture, and the need to define an Australian vision and identity against English culture - and assesses the individual contributions of major poets.
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.
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