March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bourke, Bush Poetry


I guess there are a thousand towns that are well removed from major centers that seem to have an obscure attraction for a lot of people. Once again the quality of the bush spirit remains undeniable, but almost impossible to explain.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

The publican at old Fitzs Hotel, 
Was watching the stranger approach. 
He would be in need of a beer he could tell, 
He’d just come in off the coach.

After a nod to the group at the bar, 
And a long cool draught of beer. 
The stranger announced that all roads so far, 
Had finally bought him to here.

He said that he knew that the weather was good, 
And he knew there was plenty of work. 
But while he was here he hoped that he could, 
Find out what was so special about Bourke.

Now a publican has his own social class, 
And he has a unique point of view. 
So he quietly filled up the strangers glass, 
And he poured himself one too.

“That question”, he said as he filled up his jar. 
“Is much more complex than you think.” 
“But the answer lies at the end of the bar, 
With those four blokes having a drink.

The bloke on the left is a grazier, 
He’s a man of some wealth and renown. 
He owns about two million acres, 
And he’s well respected around town.

The bloke two his right is a shearer, 
He’s only just finished a shed. 
He makes his way in about every two months, 
For a beer and a comfortable bed.

To his right again is a local, 
And he plays a valuable part. 
You could say he keeps the town moving, 
As he drives the dunny cart.

And the man next to him is a learned man, 
And a good bloke to have as a mate. 
if you find yourself in some trouble, 
He’s the local magistrate.

Now I see that I’ve got you confused, 
I can tell by the look on your face. 
You ask me what’s special ‘bout Bourke, 
And I don’t even mention the place.

The special thing is the fact that they’re here, 
All sharing a beer and a joke. 
The dunny cart man will probably shout, 
And the magistrate could bum a smoke.

In no other place would the social standards, 
Allow them to all sit down there. 
But in Bourke, none of that matters, 
And you don’t find that anywhere.

You see mate, money and power, 
Don’t work when you’re out this way. 
They don’t make it any cooler, 
On a 40 degree summers day.

And they don’t make you closer to Sydney, 
When it floods and supplies can’t get through. 
And you don’t smell any better in drought, 
When one bath a week has to do.

You can call it mateship or madness, 
Whatever it is seems to work. 
It’s the fact that we’re in it together, 
That’s what’s so special about Bourke.”

It was that stranger who told me this story, 
His families now lived here for years. 
And he told me and a rich cotton farmer, 
After we’d sat and had a few beers.

And we were joined later on by the mayor, 
And a council bloke, just out of work. 
And I thought, well, we’re all still here in it, 
But we’re on it together, in Bourke.

Andrew Hull