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WA Bush Poets & Yarn Spinners

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List of Poems (in alphabetical order) - Note poems are on several web pages - Please use the links below to go to the poems rather than scroll down the page. 


Title Poet
A Thousand Miles     Brian Langley
Christmas Lights at Mandurah     Eileen Noakes
Coodardy    Colleen O'Grady
End of the Trail   Keith (Cobber) Lethbridge
Foxes and Ferals     New  Dec 12 Mary McGregor-Craigie
Ghost Town of Big Bell    Colleen O'Grady
Ghosts in an Old House   Val Read
Infectious Plebiscitis Wayne Pantall
It Happened  Arthur Leggett
My Best Mate  -  Possum Val Read
Now Look 'Ere  Hadley Provis
On Old Albany Road Wayne Pantall
Pre-Cooked Meals    Brian Langley
Sardines   Keith (Cobber) Lethbridge
Spirit of Australia   Corin Linch
The Beauty of a Saddle for a Throne Irene Conner
The Flying Bishop    Coleen O'Grady
The Forest Brian Langley
The Galah Session  Colleen O'Grady
The Good Life  Corin Linch
The Old Timer   Irene Conner
The Turkey (Stuffed) John Miller
Childrens Poems from WABP / Melville City  Written Comp  
Winning Poems from the 2007 WA State Champs - Written Comp.



 Ghosts in an Old House

The old house looked pathetic as it crouched upon the hill
No sign of habitation, it was dozing, quiet and still
The grey stone walls were crumbling, and the window panes were smashed;
the wire-strand fence was twisted, and the rusty roof was gashed.
It made me feel despondent when I felt its sad despair,
but as I turned to walk away, soft voices called me there.

Was it imagination?  Did I hear the old house call?
Did children’s laughter echo from the long-deserted hall?
Those shadows at the window – were they ghosts from long ago?
Or were the gentle breezes causing memories to flow?
My family were the people who once lived upon this land;
those wonderful old pioneers who’d built this station grand.

Here’s where I spent my childhood when that house was just a shack;
Two bedrooms and a kitchen and a bough shed out the back
where Mum would do the washing, and then all us kids as well;
on chilly winter mornings, oh, you should have heard us yell
as we were scrubbed from head to toe with bars of Lysol soap;
to dodge the day’s ablutions, we just never had a hope.

Our family lived by Holy Rule, no other law applied;
we owed allegiance to God, then husband to his bride.
And we were taught that kith and kin came first without a doubt,
that friends and neighbours got respect, from boss to rouseabout.
At night we’d sit and read our books in golden lantern light,
while frenzied moths died horribly in
kamikaze flight.

I hated work upon the farm; those endless, dreary chores
of milking cows and feeding chooks, then tending to the bores.
Of clearing land and carting rocks, of ploughing sandy soil,
I thought I’d find much better work than endless, thankless toil.
And so I rolled my swag one night, and left without a care;
I never saw this place again; I wandered everywhere.

And now I’ve come back to my roots and tears are falling free
as from the shadows’ depths I hear my loved ones calling me.
I feel a hand upon my face and hear a gentle sigh,
I know my mother’s standing here, and I begin to cry.
Oh, how I wish I’d never gone to chase a pot of gold,
when all the riches of this earth were mine within this fold.

V.P. Read.       1st Prize – Scribblers Poetry Comp. 2007. + 2 commended awards.

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A culinary tour-de-force, 
Is sardines and tomato sauce,
And once upon a time I was fan. 
In point of fact I thought it wise 
To stock emergency supplies,
So into the Nissan toolbox went a can.

For many months I drove about
And never had the toolbox out; 
Without a hitch I travelled near and far, 
But then, it couldn't be denied 
That something horrible had died, 
And not beside the road, but in the car !

I searched the Nissan high and low,
Wherever wounded snakes might go, 
Or where a rat could crawl away to die, 
Until at last, in sheer despair, 
I saw that toolbox lying there,
So thought I'd better give it one last try.

I opened up the metal lid
And nearly fainted when I did, 
Beneath that pestilential Devil's brew; 
An odious, malignant smell,
Straight from the rotting bowels of Hell. 
(It hit me like a lump of four-by-two.)

That sardine can that I forgot,
Was opened up and left to rot; 
Punctured by a sharpened tool somehow, 
And even though I scrubbed it well, 
I couldn't wash away that smell;
It lingers in the Nissan even now.

* * *

So if we meet along the track,
And should you offer me a snack,
I'd gladly share a plate of ham and beans, 
Sinkers and jam, wallaby stew, 
Or even pan-fried cockatoo,
But please, don't try to tempt me with sardines !

Keith Lethbridge. July 07 2004

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Life is a long, long journey;
A challenge in so many ways.
For all the great joy of being alive, 
There are bound to be difficult days. 
We dream of a little green valley 
Where rippling crops never fail, 
And the love of a beautiful lady, 
When we rest at the end of the trail.

Just think of that youthful indulgence, 
When we wasted our lives in a rut, 
But how can a person gain wisdom 
Without a few kicks in the gut?
Dear friends, please forgive all my failings; 
Just let the fond memories prevail, 
For I want you beside me forever, 
When we rest at the end of the trail.


Keith Lethbridge    July 11 2004

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Or Changing Places

By gee you have a good life people say to me,
Living in the bush and seeing the things you see.
Well yeah, I suppose I got a good life, it’s not often I complain,
But have you ever rolled your swag out when it’s pissin’ down with rain?
And the ground you put your canvas on is just a sea of mud,
Your blankets are cold and wet an’ the wind it chills your blood.
The fire woods all wet and you can’t make a drink of tea,
Oh what a romantic lifestyle, there’s nowhere you’d rather be.

 Next day the ground is boggy and you’ve only a young colt to ride,
The storms have scattered the cattle, now they’ve gone far and wide.
Your gear was left out in the rain now your saddle is soaking wet,
If you have to sit in that all day, you know piles you’re gunna get.
But it’s use worrying about these things they happen time and again,
And you’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve had to sleep out in the rain.
The rain bought the blowies and they’re laying eggs upon your meat,
And now you wont be sure if it’s rice or maggots that you’re about to eat.

 Like I said it’s no use worrying, not much else can go wrong,
You can always use hot sauce to stop the beef tasting strong.
Or the cook might use curry powder, just to mask the taste,
‘Cos you still got half a killer an’ that’s far too much beef to waste.
When the bait layer makes a Brownie an’ you can’t believe your eyes,
‘Cos it’s hard to tell the difference between the currants and the flies.
You’re gunna get the scours an’ dehydrate, but no-one gives a stuff,
But I tell yer this is living, even if at times the going gets a little tough.

 And still so many people say they’d love to change places with you,
For in their imagination the skies are always blue.
But I wouldn’t change me lifestyle I’m sorta happy where I am,
At least when it’s raining I know it’s putting water in the dam.
A full dam means less pumping you can sit back and relax,
Get out the pen and paper to work out the governments tax.
So thanks for your thoughts and the offer to change places with me,
But give up this romantic lifestyle; huh there’s nowhere I’d rather be.

Corin Linch

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After the devastating floods in Moora W.A. in March 1999 caused by Cyclone Elaine the Governor 
Major General Sir Michael Jeffery referred to the way the community helped each other as the Australian ethos.

The dictionary defines ethos as "Characteristic spirit of community, people or system."


 It went droving with Clancy out there on the Overflow.
Out in the desert with Lasseter where white men seldom go.
It opened up the Kimberley with Quilty, Durack and the rest
The Spirit belonged to all and shone through with the best.
It's carried its swag in Queensland, its waltzed Matilda all over
It's been a fencer and a shearer; he's also been a drover.
It was there with Paddy Hannon when he discovered gold.
It was born 200 years ago, but isn't very old.
It's the Spirit of Australia what makes this country great.
It's in every town and city, in every Territory and State.

 On the 25th of April they march on Anzac Day.
To remember comrades that fell along the way.
The Spirit stormed Gallipoli as Anzac's faced the Turk,
Many died, but the Spirit lives and grows from Albany to Burke.
On the fields of Flanders out in the dead man zone,
The Spirit did shine through even when it was alone.
Up there in New Guinea on the killer Kokoda Track
They fought the Japanese with some never coming back.
At Changi and on the Burma railway the Spirit withstood the test,
Suffering hardship and weakened it would not be laid to rest.

She was there as well, the back bone of this land
Facing drought and floods and fighting for her man.
Raising a family the hard way, no luxuries, no electric light.
Battling hard to make ends meet but never giving up the fight.
Together they can conquer anything standing side by side.
They represent this country chests puffed out with pride.
They've got the Spirit of Australia, what makes this country great,
You'll find it growing in every town and city, Territory and State
From the frozen Antarctic wasteland to the heat of Alice Springs,
The Spirit of Australia grows, and from the heart begins.
So come all young Australians don't let this Spirit die
Let’s build the greatest country in the world, under a southern sky

  Corin Linch

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The Turkey (Stuffed)

'Twas Xmas day and all was still, the clan had  gathered for their fill
having opened presents  one and all, their stomachs beckoned to the call
of ham and nuts and tails of cray, the “young bloke” caught at Thompson's bay,
of Salmon smoked and prawns so sweet, all of which could not compete
with the Xmas feast no less they’d settle, than the turkey in the Weber Kettle
So carefully they dressed the bird with seasoned stuffing (so I heard ),
They laid it over foil tray,  put on the lid and walked away,
The time then came to feed the starved, but not before the bird was carved
The patriarch would do the job , He’d cut the bird and feed the mob
But as he carefully sliced the fowl, his smiling face turned to a scowl
The blood raced to his face so red and screamed “This flamin’ things not dead!”
“What will we do!” the guests all cried, “no turkey on this Christmas tide?
No wishbone tussle?, No parsons nose?, what will we eat do you suppose”?
Moving in to quell the riot, the patriarch said Hush, be quiet,
It  seems we’ll have to do it tough and just eat all the “other stuff”
But time heals all  or so it’s said, and the hours slowly moved ahead
The Turkey cooked by end of day, just as  the guests went on their way
They gave their friends a parting gift, as Taxis pulled up for their lift
So Christmas wasn’t such a drag - they got turkey in a ”doggy bag”

  John Miller

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"I want me beer!"
Yelled the cook.
˜Can't you hear?
By George, you could write a book
About the things that happened
On Coodardy.


The floods had come,
We had a norther!
See the river run!
Homestead separated by swirling water
And the cook was going bananas
On Coodardy.

˜You have to wait!
Yelled the boss
Across the lake
To the outraged cook stranded and lost,
With a thirst not quenched by rain
On Coodardy

Bandy legs bowed,
Thunderous scowl,
Raging river that flowed
Didn't stop the cook from a growl,
Nor water full of dead sheep foul
On Coodardy.

He wanted his beer,
His daily ration,
So he had no fear
Of cyclones or storms on the station,
Or the boss' threats of a sacking
On Coodardy.

Cook reached water!
The boss roared,
A lamb to the slaughter!
It was the men, of course, who scored.
With a bound they reached the irate cook
On Coodardy.

Brawny arms grabbed
The flailing man.
He was nabbed
By the station men patient, with a pan
Of understanding for the thirsty cook
On Coodardy.

Thunder boomed!
Lightning crackled!
The cook was doomed
Of a beer, and the men cackled
As they snavelled the cook and sat on him

On Coodardy.

A thirsty week
For poor cook,
Whose outlook was bleak.
But floods pass by as the thunder forsook
The ground now sprinkled with green
On Coodardy.

Full of cheer
Went poor cook
To homestead near.
But consternation made him crook
To find that there was no beer,
On Coodardy!

  Colleen O'Grady


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There's a housewife off the beaten track

Who rises before the sun has dawned.
 It is summer in the dry outback,
Her work is done in the early morn.

The heatwaves dance in isolation,
Stunted mulga seem upside down.
Her clothing sticks with perspiration,
 And its months since she's been to town.

    The garden lies shrivelled and the hens don't lay,

Bread dough refuses to rise.

Joe's on 'the run', though due yesterday,
He's out there still with the flies.

But it's ten o'clock and gossip time,
So she grabs her cuppa quick!
Then races in to the radio room
And tunes in lickety-split.

VKJ Meekatharra calling WIR...over.
 VKJ Meekatharra calling WIR!
This station to long wave turn over
For the session of the galah!

The neighbour a hundred of miles away
Has 'popped in' to say hello.

So what if the dog died yesterday,

Her batteries are charged for another go!

 "It's rained here, has it rained there?
 Is Joe back from the run...over?
"No - it hasn't rained here and I despair
 And Joe is still out in the 'rover'."

 Its now the time for swapping troubles
And the tension eases from her shoulders.
A good old chat with laughter that bubbles

Amongst the spinifex and boulders.

Colleen O'Grady

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The Forest

Do you see the soft leaves falling?
Do you hear the song birds calling
As they flutter through the treetops
That shade the sunlight's glare?
Do you see the orchid showing
By the maiden-hair-fern growing
In the soft and misty raindrops?
God!, there's beauty everywhere.

Do you hear the axe-blows ringing?
Do you hear the saw-blades singing?
Do you hear the crash of thunder
As the forest giants fall?
Do you see the forest dwindling
As it's all reduced to kindling?
Do you ever stop to wonder
At the reason for it all?

Do you see the forest dying?
Do you hear the sound of crying
In the valley where the river
Has become a salty creek?
No more the orchids flow'ring
'Neath the forest giants tow'riing;
And the whole world seems to shiver--
Do the tears run down your cheek?

No more the soft leaves falling;
No more the songbirds calling
As they flutter through the treetops,
For there are no treetops there.
And there's almost nothing growing;
And the desert wind is blowing;
And there isn't any raindrops --
And there's few who seem to care!

  Brian Langley

Christmas Lights at Mandurah


With great excitement, we boarded the bus.

There really were quite a lot of us.

Some were rather long in the tooth,

Whilst others held tight to their vanishing youth.

We chatted a lot as we drove along,

Some of us even burst into song.


We travelled a couple of hundred K.

The driver was smart, he knew the way!

Then we stopped for a drink and a feed.

A jolly good idea, it was agreed.

Next, a quick visit to the loo.

Blimey! You should see the queue.

Some bright spark says, “Let’s use the Gent’s”.

Of course, that made perfect sense.

So, at the door we placed a guard,

Making sure the guys were barred.

We knew that we must not be late.

There is a schedule, the bus can’t wait.

We finished in there and snuck outside,

Then jumped on the bus to continue our ride.


We headed to the jetty to board the boat.

With so many people, will it still float?

It was the lights we’d come to see.

We oohed and aahed and cheered with glee!

There was Santa with reindeer and sleigh,

 And bright shining stars to show him the way.

We saw kangaroos, emus, dolphins and bells,

Boats and bikes and flowers as well.

A laser display to dazzle the eyes.

That certainly was a great surprise.

But no nativity scene was there on show.

Why was it missing? I’d like to know.

I searched for it. It wasn’t there.

At Christmastide, this must be rare.

No baby Jesus with his Dad and Mum.

Is this a sign of Christmas to come?

 {Eileen Noakes, December 2011}

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(A Tribute to Bishop Witt)



 In the Nor' West,

A land he loved best,

Bishop Witt was well respected.

Always in the air

On a wing and a prayer

There's pleasure when he's expected


 From country that is brown

From drought renown

To winter green when summer ended.

In everlastings we wallow

When spring does follow,

; Bishop flies his vision splendid.


So prepare the strip

Away from the tip!

Its time for baby's christening.

The Bishop's on the wing

On the air reported in

And all the stations are listening.


The missions that are lonely,

And stations that are homely,

Hail him with pure delight.

Christian or not,

He cares not a jot

To all he is their light.


Colleen O'Grady


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An hotel reared its lofty head

Beside a lilac.

No patrons now it could be said,

Not since way back.


The walls are dusty brown,

Once were white.

Inside curtains billow round,

Once were bright.


Pretty wallpaper covered in dirt

Peeling everywhere.

Drunken beds but no forms inert

Resting there.


Church with steeple rising high,

Pews in neat rows.

Long since pastor raised his cry

Of religious prose.


Bell no longer on its stand,

It tolls nearby

To call the boss and hired hands

Coodardy Station nigh.


House stumps standing neatly

Along the street.

Give mute testimony

Of houses once neat.


Pool is dry, hospital empty,

Creeper bloom.

Mine paraphernalia and shanty

Like the tomb.


Once a thriving community

But gold gone.

Now a dusty, dirty entity

A decade on.

 Colleen O'Grady



Mary McGregor-Craigie


Written for Conservation Week, WA   -  October 9th  2012




‘Friends, Aussies, Country Folk – Lend me an ear!’

My letter is urgent; my message is clear,

I speak of the ferals that shouldn’t be here.


While the lambs and the poultry are dying in pain

Wildlife extinctions are occurring in vain.

Haven’t you heard there’s a plague on the run?

Please pick up a pen or pick up a gun!

Tell people of influence: write to people in power,

We did little yesterday, It has to be now.

Every state must pay a bounty on the feral cat or fox

Before any more species are hunted and lost.

If rabies should reach us it will be more than a shame

With ferals on the landscape, impossible to contain.


Do your bit for our emblems; show that you care,

It’s not hard to fathom, we cant afford to dwell,

Don’t wait ‘til our fauna has all gone to …..   you know where.  



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Last Modified  July 27th 2011