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


Dances with Roo’s

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, Dances With Roo's


In case you don’t already know, our national symbol, the kangaroo, is one of the most dangerous creatures, at close range, in the outback. They will happily punch and scratch you with the front legs, but their secret weapon is to hold you with the front legs, lean back on their tail, and rake you with their powerful, and clawed, hind legs. There has been many a larrikin jackeroo, taught a lesson in bush blueing from either a kangaroo or emu.

Bush poetry by Ronnie Wilson

Stuey and Bluey were two cocky’s sons,
From a property west of the river at Bourke.
They were big and strong, and if you did the sums,
There was a couple of brick “out-houses” at work.

One day these two lads on their way back from town,
Hit a roo, which had jumped the wrong way.
And after the impact the Ute suddenly slowed down,
And it looked like it had decided to stay.

With the Ute hissing steam they surveyed the sad scene,
With roo fur and blood marking the trail.
And at the end of the carnage the corpse could be seen,
And Bluey thought of soup…. With “kangaroo tail”.

But Stue’y had other plans for the marsupial red,
He said why don’t we dress him in top hat and tails.
They had just bought the gear cause their sister soon wed,
And they even had the dress and the veils.

So with Stue’y all radiant in a majestic white gown,
And the seven-foot red, groom propped up beside.
Bluey acting as priest then married them down,
Then he photographed the roo and his bride.

Bluey then ran to the Ute and tuned the radio in
To a station playing some sort of a slow dance.
And there on the tarmac in tune to the din,
The red roo and his bride spun in romance.

Then a bus full of Jap tourists stopped for the sport,
And the flashing of their cameras was blinding.
And Bluey explained though the engagement was short,
The marriage remained legal and binding.

Then caught in wedded bliss Stue’y went for a hairy kiss,
But instead was caught by surprise by the roo.
He’d been unconscious not dead and wanted no part of this,
So he proceeded to throw punches at Stue.

Well the tempo picked up with both partners awake,
And Stue’y in high heels missed his shoes.
But he held on with fright cause his life was at stake,
This must surely be “Dances with Roo’s”.

Waltzing cheek to cheek like a love struck pair,
With the radio blaring to their movement.
The roo’s powerful back leg’s kept raking the air,
And Stuey knew to let go meant disembowelment.

After two solid hours of swirling and prancing,
Stue’y desperately let out with a stammer.
I cant stand much more of this Roo’s dirty dancing,
Try and hit him on the head with a hammer.

So as the couple hopped and bopped about the place,
Bluey stalked them with his nine pounder.
Then he swung and he missed and hit Stue in the face,
Much to the relief of the top-hatted bounder.

Stue’y dropped like a stone from the force of the blow,
And the roo was quick to shoot through.
And the Japanese tourists applauded the show,
Then past round the hat for poor old Stue.

Now this tale is renown round the district of Bourke,
And that tux wearing roo has entered folklore.
And Stuey never leaves home just preferring to work,
Cause the local girls know that “he’s spoke for”.

© Ron Wilson


Edward When You Go

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, Edward When You Go


This poem was written for the retiring manager of a large pastoral company, an Englishman, who is returning home after a number of well loved years in the bush

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

Its time for Bourke to say good-bye to Chairman, Boss & Friend,
All our pleas for him to stay have been declined.
And returning to an old home, brings an era to an end,
But I wonder are you leaving home behind?

The dust has barely settled on the roads out West of Bourke,
Through the properties that you have come to know.
This country has been more to you than just a place of work,
What part will you take with you when you go?

Will you take the Toorale homestead, as a token of the place?
Though the Mansion is now rotted and decayed,
It’s a symbol to remind you of the challenges you faced,
On journey to the Empire that you made.

The back bar at the Port of Bourke still echoes with the laughter,
And the embers of the fire are still aglow.
The long nights there will fondly be remembered ever after,
Will you take that part with you when you go?

Will those beers and conversations with the locals in town,
Return to you those chilly English nights.
When perhaps your education and position let you down,
And a dose of old bush lore will put you right.

The memories of Mundawa are bound to bring a smile,
When you call back the places that you know.
Is it hard to leave that place that you have loved for such a while? 
Will you take that part with you when you go?

I can imagine all the laughs and smiles upon those English faces,
When you tell them of the long and dusty trails.
The smell and noise and atmosphere that go with the Louth races,
On the claypans, in the West of New South Wales.

Tell them of the winter afternoons of Rugby in the west,
Put all the Bourke Rams victories on show.
Will you revel in the memory of how your boys stood the test,
Will you take that part with you when you go?

To you a lengthy yarn with a wealthy station Boss,
Or a beer with his men are just the same.
For you have the understanding to assimilate across,
Those petty boundaries, such as rank and name.

You’re the closest thing that Bourke will get to real nobility,
SIR Edward is the title that you earn.
For making normal people special is your true ability,
And will hold you in good stead for your return.

So you take all those other memories, anything you care to name,
All the favourite Bush places that you know.
Edward Scott will soon return to the Country whence he came,
But SIR Edward will live on here when you go.

©Andrew Hull


What’s The Story

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, What's The Story


Henry Lawson said that ‘if you know Bourke, you know Australia.’ But you don’t have to believe him, he was a bit of a trouble starter and a drunk. (Two perfectly admirable qualities) Come and have a look for yourself.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

The sharpest of the media
Felt stirring’s in the breeze.
And experienced reporters,
Had a grumble of unease.

Somewhere, there was a story,
That was about to break.
The likes of which was liable,
To make the news world shake.

And as necessity,
Is the mother of invention,
Reporters began searching,
For a focus of attention.

They looked in all the usual places,
Stories tend to lurk.
Till finally a shrewd one,
Lucked upon the town of Bourke.

The Deputy Prime Minister,
Had recently been west.
But that wasn’t a big story,
A brief article at best.

Then the Prime minister himself,
Had paid a special call.
Which sounded the alarm bells,
For journo’s one and all.

But what was the story?
What was it they all knew?
In the media, anxiety,
And speculation grew.

Till it got to breaking point,
And producers went berserk.
And then the story broke,
The Queen was going to visit Bourke.

Read the next days morning news,
With monarchists and republicans,
Each offering their own views.

But why is she going to Bourke?
Asked the reporters who had nouse.
There’s no Bourke harbour bridge,
There’s no Bourke opera house.

They have no real celebrities,
And no real millionaires.
I don’t think even Tom and Nicole
Have bought a place out there.

They say it’s marvelous to hear
The poet ‘Hully” speak.
But couldn’t we just fly him,
Down to Sydney for the week?

And ‘The Bourke Two Thousand Olympics’?
No, that just doesn’t work.
Why come to Australia
Just to visit Bourke?

The answer to these questions,
Won’t be written anywhere.
You won’t see it on the news,
Or on A Current Affair.

You’ll see it on a sun-baked claypan,
On a summers day.
When ancient dust and heat shimmer,
Wash the horizon away.

And when it storms you won’t see it,
If you huddle and complain.
You will if you bare your chest,
And turn your face up to the rain

Or in an outback evening,
You can’t find in clubs and bars.
And when the fire dies,
You just try and count the stars.

And if you want your heart to soar,
Forget your cheap romance.
Watch aboriginal children,
Perform traditional dance.

And if by chance you don’t see then,
Just why the queen would come.
Then sit down by the river,
And breathe the breath of river gum.

You’ll have your answer then,
But not the words to write it down.
You don’t come to Australia to see Bourke,
It’s the other way around.

© Andrew Hull


The Bushman

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, The Bushman


Long have the legends of Clancy, and Snowy River dominated bush culture. The reality is, that that sort of courage has been and is faced every day by all types of Australians.


On a warm and dusty morning at a campsite west of Bourke,
Two bushmen caught their horses and set about their work.
They only spoke as needed, and then, only just enough,
To see the job completed, or an occasional nervous laugh.

For today they’d drove a long dry stretch, to the next known watering spot,
But the mob in tow was barely alive, and the track so dusty and hot.
And if the hole they sought was also dry, it was more than the mob they’d lose.
But to stay here meant they’d certainly die, so the track was easy to choose.

On a wet and misty morning at a hide out south of Bourke,
Two bushmen caught their horses and set about their work.
They only spoke as needed, and then, only just enough,
To see the job completed, or an occasional nervous laugh.

For today they’d ride against the law, their children for to feed.
With a life of hunger still in store, they’d steal for want and need.
And if today a traps bullet finds, the Bushrangers mortal end.
The only regret they’ll have in dying, is leaving their wives to fend

On a cold and frosty morning in the ranges East of Bourke,
Two bushmen caught their horses and set about their work.
They only spoke as needed, and then, only just enough,
To see the job completed, or an occasional nervous laugh.

For today they’d cross a rivers flood and a snowy mountain peak.
Cold and wet and covered in mud their horses sore and weak.
To fetch the doc and bring him back, their mother was gravely ill.
No time to take the normal track when an hour could easily kill.

On a calm and peaceful morning at a war, long way from Bourke,
Two bushmen caught their horses and set about their work.
They only spoke as needed, and then, only just enough,
To see the job completed, or an occasional nervous laugh.

They checked the straps and ammo, and memorized the plan.
Then swore allegiance to each other, and vowed to make a stand.
They sprung lightly to the saddle to face this life’s last test.
Then charged the machine guns rattle, “Light Horsemen” at their best.

On any dawn of any morn on any track from Bourke,
The bushmen catch their horses and continue with their work.
And they’ll always be there as needed till their hearts of gold all spent,
Find its time to meet their maker and pay their final rent.


The Corruption of a Bushman

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, The Corruption of a Bushman


What happens when you take a perfectly good bushman away from familiar surroundings, and introduce him to a world he has never seen? 

He was a bushy when I met him,
There’s no denying that.
From his long unshaven bushy beard
To the sweat on his bushy hat.

He came out to Bourke from the coastal scrub,
Where he’d lived in an old bush shack.
He had a Holden ute, three or four dogs,
His swag and the clothes on his back.

The paddock where he did his day’s work,
Is where he’d make his bed.
And if he managed to catch a wild pig in the night,
Then he and his dogs would get fed.

But he was happy the way his life was then,
With the campfire and the billy of tea.
And if you asked him would he live in a town,
He’d just say “nar mate, not me.”

He had no need for modern things,
He scorned the ‘townies’ life.
He swore he’d never change, and he never did,
Until one day he took a wife.

He married Debbie in by the sea
Then brought her straight back out to Bourke.
Their honeymoon night’s they slept in a swag,
And their honeymoon day’s they both worked.

But women are more sensitive,
They need more than their daily bread.
So Debbie longed for a kitchen,
And dreamt of a roof over her head.
When he finally agreed to buy her a house,
She thought it was her finest hour.
But the house that he bought her was miles from town,
With no running water or power.

They chopped wood in the winter to fight off the cold,
And their summers where hot as sin.
But I think that when the power came on,
Is when the first rot set in.

Because Ron was skeptical at first,
This electricity didn’t seem right.
And for a while, he’d make the sign of the cross
Whenever Debbie would switch on the light.

So he still wouldn’t use the kettle,
He preferred a billy of tea.
And if you asked would he live a townies life,
He’d just say “nar mate, not me.”

But it gradually grew on him (as things do)
And he soon developed a reliance.
And in true bushy spirit, he was not content
‘Til he’d mastered every appliance.

Now when I say ‘every appliance’,
It was EVERY appliance he craved.
From Kettles, toasters, and Mixmaster’s,
To dishwashers and microwaves

The T.V and stereo he treasured, of course,
He worshiped his video games.
He had all extras a man could want,
And he referred to them all by name.

The bush lore began to fade from his mind,
Convenience became his new tutor.
But all this paled in comparison
When he finally discovered the computer.

He was absolutely astounded, mesmerised,
That such a small box could be so vast,
And this bushy who’d never believed in much,
Thought he’d found his one true God at last.

He had found new meaning, his life was complete,
He had his phone and his Microsoft mouse.
And with his computer and his other gadgets
He need never leave the house.

He had the T.V for news, the video for fun,
The climate was whatever he set.
The microwave meals were delicious
And he had friends on the Internet

His old mates would call for a cup of tea
He never knew they’d been.
He’d just mumble ‘“nar mate, not me.”
But his eyes never left the screen.

And that’s how he was, Lord of all he surveyed,
He was every appliances master.
‘Til one dark stormy night, he was alone in the house,
Unaware of the looming disaster.

The heating was perfect, the coffee was brewing,
As into the console he sank.
And then a wild electrical storm reached the house,
The lights died and the screen went blank.

The heater switched off, the dishwasher stopped,
The percolator refused to bubble.
Every switch that he threw, every button, all failed,
He knew he was getting in trouble.

Don’t panic, he thought, it’s just a brief lapse,
As he tried every trick that he knew.
But the darkness got thicker, and the fear gripped his throat,
Without power, what would he do?

His brain was overloading with stress,
His memory was coming in snatches,
And as he fumbled around like a child in the dark,
His hands found – a box of matches.

It took three or four goes to get one to light
But that match lit a long felt desire,
At the end of his sanity, his instincts shone through,
This bushy needed a fire.

It’s surprising how well a dishwasher burns
If you give the thing enough heat.
The toaster and kettle fired up well enough,
But lighting the fridge was a feat.

The microwave, T.V and vacuum cleaner
All found their way to the pyre.
And there was a maniacal gleam in his eye
As he threw on the washer and dryer.

He franticly gathered every appliance
And burnt them without any shame.
His half-crazed eyes never even blinked
As his computer burst into flames.

His cellular phone got the very last job,
Before it too got axed.
He called up the electricity board,
And screamed “you can all get faxed!”

And that was the end, the bushy returned,
He fired up his old ute.
He loaded the wife, the swag and the hat,
And a couple of good dogs to boot.

And he drove away from the smoldering mess
Of the monster he once used to be.
There’s just ashes there now and a single white cross
With three letters, R.I.P.

Now he’s happy again round the campfire at night,
With some mates and a billy of tea.
And when they ask could he live a townie’s life,
He just says “nar mate, not me.”