Bourke Time

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bourke Time, Bush Poetry


I’m sure all country towns have there own concept of correct time. The further west you head the more the ‘real time’ turns into ‘when it happens’. This poem was written for a presentation to the Prime Minister in January Two Thousand, just five months before the Government launch their controversial new tax agenda.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

The minute the P M’s plane stopped at Bourke,
Our public relations team went to work.
Helping him down without any slip,
Inquiring whether he’d had a good trip,
And wasn’t feeling a touch of jet lag,
As they organised someone to carry his bag.
The P.M. instantly summed up the scene,
He was in the hands of a well-oiled machine,
So he asked if they would mind if he,
Could peruse tomorrow’s itinerary.

With a nervous glance from side to side,
The public relations team guessed,
That what he asked could not be denied,
And to tell him the truth would be best.
So with an embarrassed cough they tried,
To grant his humble request.

(They said) “A prominent businessman wishes to talk,
If he could join your six o’clock walk,
The trouble with this Mr Howard you see,
Is we’re not sure when six o’clock will be.”
You have a meeting at nine with the mayor
Although it’s unlikely that he will be there,
But the deputy mayor will meet you at three
Which could occur around morning tea.
And the chamber of commerce is booked in for five
Though it’s doubtful any of them will arrive”.

The Prime Minister said not a word,
He wasn’t quite sure what to do.
He didn’t know if what he’d just heard
Was a joke or if it was true.
This public relations team was absurd,
And their timetable was too.

“The problem”, they said, sensing his concern,
“Is this new time zone we’re trying to learn.
Every thing out here seems to work fine
If you only understand Bourke Time”.
“But Bourke Time is open to all sorts of tricks,
For example the milk is delivered around six.”
“So the logic they use out here in their sums
Is it must be six when the milk comes.
But depending on how fast the milkman drives
It could be ten before it arrives”.

The Prime Minister nodded his head
He was a shrewd sort of bloke,
He didn’t believe a word they’d said
But he’d go along with the joke.
It was their way in the bush, he’d read
‘Not to fix it if it ain’t broke’

“The deputy mayor,” said the public relations
“Knows all the Bourke Time machinations.
His doctor has told him no coffee ‘til three
Though he usually has one for morning tea
So now if he’s thirsty at nine or ten
He declares that in Bourke time, it’s three o’clock then.
The Chamber of Commerce can only survive
If they all agree to shut shop at five,
But if at that time there are shoppers in sight
Then the clock won’t strike five till half-way through the night”.

The P.M. cast a propitious eye
Over the public relations band.
He concluded now that this was no lie,
And this was the best that things could be planned,
But he thought he knew a way to try
And still maintain the upper hand.

The official dinner was at eight on the dot.
He said “If the time now is seven o’clock,
And two beers take half an hour to drink
It’ll be half past seven when I’m finished, I think.
That should give me time to settle in well,
So I’ll have a few beers at a local hotel”.
And when two beers turned into seven or eight,
He knew in Bourke time that he couldn’t be late.
So when they closed the pub at eleven,
He declared that it must now be half past seven.

Although his head was not so clear
When he finally sat down to dine.
He told his staff that he had an idea
To help get the new tax system on line,
And for the following financial year
Australia would get to know Bourke Time.

“The answer was always out here at Bourke
I think we really can make this thing work.
We’ll make an announcement in the press
That all the issues have been addressed
And we can now publicly guarantee
That the new tax system will work perfectly.
Right from day one, there won’t be a hitch,
There’ll be no transitional hiccup or glitch
And we promise the new system will be sublime
From the first of July, year two thousand – Bourke Time.”

© Andrew Hull