On the road from Wau to Lae

Last week we posted The Star crossed flag of Australia, a poem supplied by Ms Marilyn Stewart from Gladstone, and written by her Grand Uncle John (Jack) Cheshire of Innisfail.

Jack Cheshire wrote a second poem – On the road from Wau to Lae, about his service as a Sapper in New Guinea during the Second World War. Ms Stewart located that verse and sent it to us:

The Road from Wau to Lae

There’s a road winds o’er the Stanleys,

Thru the swampland to the sea,

Where the mountain sides keep slipping,

And the rain comes tumbling free.

From the barges on the river to the convoys on the track,

It was sweat and strain and struggle, for there was no turning back,

For there was no turning back.


On the road from Wau to Lae, you could see it any day,

Engineers they worked like navvies and for very little pay,

On the road from Wau to Lae, we stuck with it all the way,

Down to sunset every weather, and some times night and day.


Down from the Kiandi it comes winding, thru Bulolo rich and fair,

Then they pushed it on to sunshine, and we left the party there,

O’er the hills they went to Mumeng, over Zenag’s lovely plains,

Where the road winds up the plateau, then down the gorges again,

To the jungle and the rain.


Now the toughest work is over, and the best is like the worst,

These sappers had the heart breaks, and the road was soundly cursed,

When the river rose at Wernpit, washed the road and bridge away,

Though their leave was in offing, those sappers had to stay,

On the road from Wau to Lae.


Never take me back no more, to New Guinea’s muddy shore,

Won’t you leave me back in Aussie, with the ones that I adore,

Give the damn place to the natives, let them have it’s what I say,

I’ve a gutful of New Guinea, and the “road from Wau to Lae”.

Thanks again to Marilyn Stewart for sharing her family story, which spans both the First and Second World Wars.

Do you have a Queensland family member who served in the First World War? We invite you to send us your story, along with a couple of images, and we can post them to the WWI Blog.

Robyn Hamilton – QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland


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Today I found a typed copy headed "The Official Unit Song of the 133 AUST. GEN TPT.COY." On the road from Wau to Lae
among my late fathers papers. Stan McCue served with this unit during WWII