A whip across his shoulder and a twinkle in his eye,
beloved horse and faithful dog, on them he could rely
to take a dreamer far and wide while building on a name
that farmers, bankers, pollies learned was steeped in rural fame.
Sir Sidney Herbert Kidman – he was born at Athelstone:
from humble, English farming stock, a mighty man had grown.
A softly-spoken, honest soul who scorned vulgarity,
he loathed all waste and groomed his will to stem disparity.
Aged thirteen years, ‘The Kid’ left home, he did not say goodbye:
his quest to find his brother, George, beneath some Aussie sky.
A one-eyed horse, a worn old saddle, five bob to his name –
those worldly goods he used to build vast wealth and wide acclaim.
Sid grew to be a bush wise lad with wild, ambitious dreams,
to be a man of some repute, to master droving teams.
He yearned to ride a big, black horse across vast grazing land
and stock his country, mile on mile, with cattle of his brand.
He knew he faced a daunting task, a fiery, vicious foe;
but, always, he had found a way to make ideas grow.
Some painful, early lessons warned: be wise – avoid the drink.
Do not surrender, worship water – watch and learn and think.
Sid’s peers and teachers taught him that pure water has no smell,
no colour, taste or charm of note, no feature to excel.
Ignoring this had been his saviour over many years
when murky, running water was like music to his ears.
Clean water has no odour? That’s not true of summer rains
when, after months of searing heat, the storms are on the plains.
The Red Gum’s cleansing perfume tells that winter time is nigh,
while other native blooms will herald ending of the dry.
Sid’s visions were of cattle camps and sleeping under stars,
of endless, open grazing lands and rippling river bars:
of settling mobs of cattle down upon the moonlit plains,
then resting well when lulled to sleep by jingling hobble chains.
He savoured sights of majesty – a sunset’s molten stream,
but never knew a twilight time – that softly dappled beam.
He knew arrays of hue and light most could not comprehend;
wide, blazing floods of blood-red skies that ran for months on end.
‘The Kid’ as he was fondly known, worked hard and wore the jokes:
he often rode alone for days, like all the station blokes.
He watched, he learned and gained those skills that served him fair and true
until, at last, he cut the ties and bade the boss ‘adieu’.
One meet, he rode a leggy horse – he did not know his name.
He won the Squatter’s Plate, by far, a jockey’s purse to claim.
The effort earned the winning hoop a pup and ten-pound note,
the cash to buy an agile roan of stamp and shining coat.
‘The Kid’ became ‘The Cattle King’ as if decreed by fate
to build an empire with the goal to graze in every State.
Sid ventured out and life progressed on business he secured;
his word a bond and guarantee that credence was assured.
In June of Eighteen Eighty-Five, our Sidney took a bride
a teacher lass named Isabel who schooled her man with pride.
They travelled all around Australia, four times over-seas,
while, in between, their children grew beneath Kapunda’s trees.
In Nineteen Thirty-Five, Sid died: his time on earth was done.
His life was honoured with a Knighthood – Nineteen Twenty-One.
He left one son and three fine daughters to his loyal wife
who knew their worldly wealth was blessed by altruistic life.
Domestic stock and distant stations bear the Kidman brand.
Australian people should salute a legend of this land,
should recognise how fine he was and pay him due respect:
accept the challenge, show Sir Sid, his faith had been correct.