The monuments journey to Louth is a story in itself. Loaded aboard the paddleboat 'the Jane Eliza' along with building materials for the Louth hotel which had suffered in a recent fire, the crew made double time on the upstream journey to try and beat the river which was dropping quickly. They made it as far as Curanyulpa near Tilpa before the river bottom greeted their keel and no amount of persuasion could encourage the Jane Eliza to continue.

The monument was transported via bullock team to Louth in a matter of weeks which is more than can be said for the Jane Eliza. She lay in that river bed for three years until the Darling River finally flowed and she continued upstream. On her arrival in Bourke she was to discover that the railway had beaten her by about three months and changed the nature of transport in the west forever. Her return journey took just three weeks and the Jane Eliza holds the record for both the longest and shortest paddleboat journey to Bourke.


The Jane Eliza

Here's a ship that tells the tale, built in southern New South Wales
And crafted from the burnt out 'Beechworths' frame
Built to do a steamers work, she ploughed the Darling up to Bourke
And the Jane Eliza was her given name

Burning riverwood and gum, a traveling marketplace to some
She made her trade on timber, wheat and wine
But the port of Morgan in the south, is where she departed from for Louth
To carry a stone for the grave of Mary Devine

A monument fit for a queen, the most impressive headstone seen
In the river country and all surrounds
Australian granite, polished bright, twenty four feet in height
Valued well above six hundred pounds

The cargo hold is also filled with materials to help rebuild
The pub at Louth which recently burnt down
And so with a full head of steam, she turned out of the Murrays green
And made a wake into the Darlings brown

A drought was on the Western plains, the Darling was a muddy drain
And little more than a string of dirty pools
Along the bank in tidy piles, was timber gathered in for miles
And day and night she burnt the precious fuel

Crawling past the town of Tilpa, the sandbar at Curanyulpa
Is where the river bottom touched her wheel
They dug and pushed to find a way, but the Jane Eliza was there to stay
The Darling slowly dried around her keel

Classified a naval wreck, they held an auction on her deck
And sold the stranded cargo off at will
The materials for the Louth hotel, changed direction and purpose as well
And went to build a church at Broken Hill

The monument went overland, onto the hill where it now stands
To perform the task for which it was designed
A cross adorns the monument, and with a careful measurement
The spectacle was craftily aligned

Each sunset would mourn the loss, by lighting up the Celtic cross
And make her memory burn for evermore
But on the very day she died the sun would strike its polished side
And the light would blaze a pathway to her door

The Jane Eliza earned her bread, in the crusty river bed
Sawing timber powered by her steam
And when the Darling finally filled, she stopped being a timber mill
And continued on her long journey upstream

Desperate for transport work, she made her way on up to Bourke
And arrived three years later than they planned
But in the time that she was down, the railway line had got to town
And now the precious freight went overland

So with the Darling running full and a final load of wool
The Jane Eliza slowly steamed away
And down the swollen river swept, where just a month ago she slept
And made it home in three weeks and a day

The monument is standing still, the church is there in Broken Hill
Shindys Inn at Louth is going strong
But like the men who cut the wood, the Jane Eliza's gone for good
And the riverbed is where her bones belong

©2002. Words and Music, Andrew Hull and Tonchi Macintosh

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