Bush Poetry

Bush Poetry, it has been said, is undergoing a modern “revival”. While this may be true in the cities, way out the “Back O’ Bourke”, two local bush poets, have fiercely believed for years that it had never died out in the first place, so how on earth can it be revived? 

The bars of little outback hotels throughout the bush have long been frequented by “Closet Bush Poets” who, with a bit of liquid persuasion, can entertain the bar with their humorous rhyming’s. Usually they will inspire even more patrons to stand up and recite their favourite verse, which surprisingly enough, is often written by the reciter.

Probably some of the best nights we have ever had were spent in an outback pub that contained no jukebox, no card machines and not even a pool table. But the our publican Tim could go verse for verse with the best and sometimes it seemed that bush poets out numbered non-bush poets, ten to one in the bar.

Australians all through history have maintained a close affinity with rhyming yarns, and bush poetry has always held a valuable place in folklore and history. All the warehouses filled with historical documents and records in the world cannot capture and permanently record the true “essence” of the peoples of an era? Bush Poetry records the peoples’ language and lifestyles, along with their life’s triumphs and tragedies, and does it in a format that is enjoyable to read. Bush poetry is a combination of poetry and place which is capable of turning a history lesson into a pleasant experience for even the youngest of readers. The pair of us fell under its spell before we were able to read, through hearing our “bushy” ancestors recite the words of Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson.

These days we have bush poets across Australia battling for their lives in rhyme on the Internet. A concept pioneered by yours truly, now taking the flavour of the outback across the world.

We have spent years sharing campfires on river banks studded with ancient forests of mighty “river gums”, on plains that vanish in far off horizons in all directions, and amongst giant desert dunes in an ocean of red sand. We have, in the process, been caught in every extreme of weather from floods that leave you cut off from supplies for weeks, to dust storms that roll in from the west with a blinding, choking fury. We have been held at the mercy of temperatures that seasonally plunge off the thermometer at either end. Throughout we have shared the ups and downs of life in the true spirit of “Bush Mateship” and our poems are a reflection of our experiences and values, written with generous lashings of bush humour.

After eating a hearty camp oven meal, we’ve watched many a campfire burn down to embers as we tossed verses to and fro under a blanket of outback stars. It was around one of these campfires that it was decided to put together a book that could be carried by campers throughout Australia and assist them to step into the world of a couple of modern day Bushmen, Bush Poets from the Back of Bourke.

We have provided a collection of camp oven recipes that can be cooked with basic tucker box ingredients to a standard that may have other wise been a bit ordinary. After your meal, you can turn the page and recite some original Bush Poetry and in so doing live out a lifestyle that has been idealised throughout history as being “Truly Australian”.

The recipes have been written to be “yarns” in their own right, making the book readable even from the comfort of the lounge chair at home. The most important ingredient is typically Australian. It’s a “no worries” approach to food and cooking. If you haven’t got the exact ingredients, substitute. If you haven’t got a substitute, use the exact ingredients. With any luck, you are enjoying a few beers or a nice Australian red anyway, so it probably won’t make that much difference. The idea is to make the recipes your own.

So whether you are camping somewhere in the bush or at home, dreaming that you are, read on and enjoy.

Ron Wilson