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 All the warehouses filled with historical documents and records in the world cannot capture and permanently record the true “essence” of the peoples of an era?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 


The Bush Olympian

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


How many of us have that special talent that we cultivate? Something we can do better than everyone else? The fencing we see in the Olympics isn’t the kind of fencing that we do out here, and those hats the horsemen wear wouldn’t keep off any sun.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

My legs were too long for cycling,
And my arms were too short for weights.
I’m no good at running or jumping,
And my boxing skills aren’t great.

Me hair was too short for tennis,
But I gave badminton a bash.
My hair was too long for golf,
And cricket pads give me a rash.

I can’t stay afloat in the water,
And I’m too scared of heights to dive.
I haven’t the balance for motorbikes,
And I haven’t a licence to drive.

But I have developed a tendon,
Between my elbow and my wrist.
And it allows a stubby bottle,
To fit perfectly in my fist.

I can roll a smoke one handed
(No handed if I try).
And my mouth is perfectly suited,
To swallowing whole a meat pie.

If you take me on at yarn spinning,
Then you are a bloody fool.
And I’ve tuned my body perfectly,
To sitting on a barstool.

I know I’ll never be recognised,
For the athlete that I am.
But these are skills I can use every day,
I’m a bush Olympian.

© Andrew Hull


An Old Bloke Like Me

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under An Old Bloke Like Me, Bush Poetry


Every workplace seems to have a resident ‘Old Fart’ hanging around, someone who used to work there years ago and is now retired, or has some vested interest in the goings on of the place. Memories blur with reality on a regular basis, ( the older you get, the better you were) and shearing sheds are a notorious haunt for such past legends.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

Every old shed’s got a bloke like me,
I’m usually found by the door.
My cigarette smoke lines the roof of the shed,
My crumpled akubra near swallows my head,
All I am is my stories, the smoke that you see,
And the piles of ash on the floor.

I have no real title or job to perform,
I speak when I want you to hear.
I lean on a broom but I don’t ever sweep,
I wake up at four and by four I’m asleep,
I’m a remnant of days before union reform,
So they pay me with smokes, tea and beer.

The mornings I’m always hung over and down,
The rest is my memories it seems.
Like the time that I shore three hundred or more, 
Or the day that I knocked the boss clean out the door,
The young fella’s listen, but stare at the ground,
As I recall my half drunken dreams.

I know that there’s pity in the young shearer’s eyes,
But I talk and pretend not to see.
For the yarns that I give are half lies and half true,
But they’ll become their memories and their stories too,
And that way this old shearer never quite dies
‘Cause each shed’s got an old bloke like me.

© Andrew Hull



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


Farewell the Son

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, Farewell The Son


All those well versed in Shakespeare, will probably be able to draw some comparisons between this poem and Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3. There is a fairly well known soliloquy by a father (Polonius), offering some parting advice to his son (Laertes). It has given birth to several common sayings, “the apparel oft proclaims the man”, “neither a borrower nor a lender be”, etc. Hully thought it all seemed like pretty good bush logic.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

The razors edge horizon is cutting through the sun,
And the land is scarlet as it bleeds to death.
This sunset seems more beautiful than any other one,
Tomorrow, Dad is sending me on my first cattle run,
And tonight he says good-bye through rum soaked breath.

He doesn’t look me in the eye, he never has before,
His pupils glaze upon the amber glow.
He says, “Could be some time until you walk back through our door,
I reckon you’ll be right, but a man can’t be too sure,
So a quick word of advice before you go.

“There’s a lot of time for thinking when you’re out there on the trail,
But don’t be quick to speak your thoughts out loud.
And don’t rush into anything or you are bound to fail,
Make sure you work out in your mind every small detail,
Then every thing you do will make you proud.

“The blokes you meet will like you all the more if you are straight,
They’re hard men, but most of them are true.
Don’t waste your time with each new face until they prove their weight,
But when their worth is proven, don’t be scared to call them mate,
Sometimes mates are all you’ve got to get you through.

“Keep hold of your temper, don’t get pushed into a fight,
You don’t know what the other bloke can do.
It’s no good in a droving’ camp if you can’t sleep at night
When a bloke says that he’ll murder you, you best believe he might,
But remember, he might think the same of you.

“Now every bloke out there will have a word or two to tell,
And you best listen if you know what’s good.
There’s good advice and bad advice, and both will serve you well,
But don’t make every word you hear, the same as what you tell,
And only tell the few you think you should.

Make sure you keep your gear top nick before you blow your wage,
No drover ever had to look a dag.
But try not to follow fashion even though it’s all the rage,
That fancy gear gets out of date before it comes of age,
You can tell a lot about a bloke from his swag.

“No matter what you’re earning, be careful what you spend,
An open wallet is no way to boast.
But try hard not to get in debt, and don’t be quick to lend,
And remember this before you borrow money from a friend,
Think carefully which one you need the most.

“But do an honest hard days work is the best advice I’ve got,
And know that you did all that you could do.
‘Cause if you’re square with yourself it doesn’t matter what,
It follows that you must be square with all the other lot,
And it follows that they must be square with you.

“Then for a punctuation mark he had another drink,
Stood slowly up and looked me in the eye.
He held my hand a while and then gave a steady wink,
Then sat back down and settled in to watch the old sun sink.
And I knew that this was how he said good-bye.

Then staring west he spoke so soft, he scarcely made a sound,
“Keep your head up boy, no matter what you do,
You won’t learn nothing special by looking at the ground,
You might miss all the snakes and potholes scattered all around,
But sure as hell, you’ll miss the sunsets too.”


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


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


My Expensive Education

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, My Expensive Education

Bush Poetry by Andrew Hull

He was making a lot of noise ,
In the bar of the hotel Federation..
He was telling every one,
About his fancy education.

He had diplomas and degrees,
From business to guitar strumming.
But the most useful lesson he had learnt,
Was how to spot a sucker coming.

He then produced some fancy papers,
Just to prove that he was smart.
They said that he was a genius,
And a patron of the arts.

But (he said) all his education,
Hadn’t helped him for a day.
Like the ability to spot a sucker,
From a mile away.

And I must say I was jealous,
Because I’d never been to school.
And almost everyone in town,
Considered me a fool.

But this bloke came right up to me,
And he said I looked deflated.
He could tell straight away,
I’d never been educated.

When he asked if we could talk alone,
I was a little apprehensive.
But he was only explaining,
How an education was expensive.

And he said he felt sorry for me,
In my brainless situation.
And he said that for a small price,
I could have his education.

It was the chance I had been dreaming of,
I couldn’t believe my luck.
So I bought his education off him
For seven thousand bucks.

So now I’ve got all his brains,
And all he’s got today, 
Is the ability to spot a sucker,
From a mile away.

© 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


Mouse Poo

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, Mouse Poo


There is nothing more frustrating to a wife than finding mouse pooh in her house and it usually results in a full scale, fully equipped expedition to seek and destroy the rodent. Women should understand that they may be initiating a chain of events over which they have no control.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

All night a noisy little mouse was keeping me awake,
With that irritating little squeaky scratchy noise they make.
And then at breakfast time there was mouse pooh on my flakes,
And at lunchtime there was mouse pooh on my chocolate cake.

“I’ll snare him”, I decided, “when he finishes his nap”.
And I used a bit of cheese with a drop of mango sap.
Then I set the apparatus just outside his little flap,
But he just ate the cheese, and left mouse pooh on the trap !

My best friend had a cat, which was supposed to be well bred,
“I’ll mind him while you go away”, I innocently said.
Now I hate cats, but I promised that I’d keep him brushed and fed.
But when I woke in the morning there was cat pooh on my bed !

He had squatted there beside me while I was in repose, 
I decided I must kill him with a string of violent blows.
But as I snuck up on him, I felt cat pooh ‘tween my toes.
I lunged at him and missed, hit the chair and broke my nose.

I whispered “that’s the last time that this cat has tempted fate”.
But the only way to trap him would require juicy bait.
So I got a tin of sardines and put them on a plate,
Then sat it in the laundry, and found a spot to wait.

Then I saw the windows, the cat had torn up all my screens,
I raced back to get dressed and there was cat pooh on my jeans.
The mouse was still alive, ‘cause there was mouse pooh at the scene,
And on returning to the laundry, the cat had eaten the sardines !

I could see I’d need assistance or I would surely lose.
My house was torn to pieces and was covered in cat poohs,
My nose was surely broken and my face a purple bruise,
And when I left I was not shocked to find cat pooh in my shoes.

So I got a dog. A Doberman. A very vicious breed.
He’d been locked up for weeks and he hadn’t had a feed,
He was guaranteed to catch a cat if ever he was freed.
So I put him in the yard and I let him off his lead.

I went to sleep and left the dog to do what he must do,
And slept soundly in the knowledge that the cat would soon be through.
When I awoke and went outside to greet the day anew, 
I stepped off the porch and straight into a steaming pile of pooh !

The way the dog had left the yard was an absolute disgrace.
There were little piles of pooh scattered all over the place.
I yelled obscenities at the dog and rapidly gave chase.
While my neighbor looked across the fence, a frown apon his face.

“Don’t you hurt that dog” he said “Or I will make you pay”.
“I know you plan to keep him locked up in the yard all day”
“I’ve placed a call to an officer from the R.S.P.C.A”,
“And when they see your place I’m sure that they’ll put you away.”

“Oh No”, I said, “there’s no need for anything like that”
“I was only trying to catch him for his morning pat.
I love my little puppy dog, and my pussycat,
I even have a little mouse that sleeps apon my mat.”

My neighbor didn’t trust me as I saw him take my name.
I was furious with the animals that I would get the blame.
Then after a few drinks I thought ‘to beat them at their game’,
‘These animals behavior must be rewarded with the same.

A drunken madness took me in the darkness of that room.
And I formed a twisted plan as I drank all afternoon.
“I must fight fire with fire” I vowed apon the rising moon.
Then I ate a block of chocolate and a family bag of prunes.

In the morning I got the animals food and set it on a plate,
Then I took my trousers down and squatted on their food to wait.
I gave them all a call and then began to defecate.
Then the officer from the R.S.P.C.A walked through the gate.

The magistrate was a cat lover, with a sense of humour too,
He gave me a council uniform and a brand new job to do.
I now work with the large animals at the local zoo.
I don’t have to feed or wash them, I just clean up their pooh.

© Andrew Hull


Next Page »