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2014 Overall Winner & recipient of the Babies of Walloon bronze statuette

Chairperson’s School Award

Edwards Property Mentorship Award

Ipswich Theme Awards

Chair’s Encouragement Awards

Rosewood Green Award – Open Age Local Poets

Joy Chambers & Reg Grundy Award – Open Age Other Poetry

Metro Hotel Ipswich International Award – Open Age Bush Poetry

A Lesson in Life by Shelley Hansen (First Prize)

In the Wake of the Deluge by Brenda Joy (Second Prize)

The Untold Story by Leonie Parker (Third Prize)

How Long Will We Cry? by Kevin Pye (Highly Commended)

Fire at Dawson’s Run by Catherine Lee (Highly Commended)

The stockman lived alone for years, preferring things that way,
was thought of round the district with respect;
a man who worked the property with seeming tireless ease,
and known for being helpful and direct.
He’d settled on the station, where he supervised with care
the livestock and the workers who were hired;
and Watchman was his trusted horse that never left his side-
a true and loyal friendship that inspired.
He’d trained the brumby foal he’d bought years prior at the sales
when spotting him while passing through a town in New South Wales.

The horse stood fifteen hands and was a well proportioned beast,
with long arched neck and withers well defined,
his forehead broad, a shining coat as black as raven’s wings,
strong back and muscles perfectly combined.
His hooves were hard and well conformed with power in their stride-
a mount men miles around could recognize;
perceptive and courageous, with a quick sure-footed tread,
unruffled nature, deep expressive eyes.
Yet Jack had bought him cheaply, for his price had been knocked down
because of trauma suffered in a blaze near Campbelltown.

One night, with moonlight glimmering through gently sighing gums,
the creaking of the iron roof was slight,
a rustling in the bush the only evidence of life
as dawn had not yet come to bring the light.
The stockman Jack slept soundly, separated from the rest
in quarters at a distance from them all-
with Max convulsing, snoring loudly, hunting in his sleep
and Watchman safely stabled in his stall,
and things secured the world was still just waiting for the sun-
the atmosphere seemed fine and normal there at Dawson’s Run.

But evil lay in wait upon the mountain’s rocky paths-
went creeping through the forest in the dark;
five thugs were on the loose, their bellies filled with beer and rum,
and out to cause destruction, find a mark.
With loaded guns and foolish plans they swaggered to and fro
while swaying on fatigued bedraggled mounts-
decided Jack could well afford to share his hard-earned yield;
the station thrived, they’d heard by all accounts.
So once agreed they’d stage attack, the gates and fences breach,
they slunk in shadows down the track that led from Devil’s Reach.

They came with stealth, positioning themselves behind the doors;
their strategy they hastened to deploy,
with plans to leave no evidence to link them to the crime,
just steal what they could find and then destroy.
A stirring in the stable gave them little pause for thought,
but Watchman paced alert and ill at ease.
He kicked his stall and whinnied-Max awoke, began to bark-
the thieves rushed in to plunder and to seize.
While one subdued the dog another threatened with his gun,
and three began to search and raid the house at Dawson’s Run.

Though Jack had grabbed his rifle he’d been taken by surprise,
so hadn’t time to raise a loud alarm.
They operated ruthlessly with blows to overcome,
despite no earthly cause to do him harm.
Then finally they set the place alight and scuttled out
to leave him at the mercy of a blaze.
He rallied, grabbed the dog and staggered out towards the barn,
then hit the dirt collapsing in a daze-
was helpless to protect his horse, could only agonize
while watching as they roughly forced him up McKenzie’s Rise.

As Jack lay semi-conscious breathing smoke and scorching wood,
the breeze began to spread some dancing flames;
the brutes had got away with almost everything he had-
no witnesses to even venture names.
Black rage consumed his final thought as unexpectedly
a rotting beam ignited, smouldered, fell-
he heard the fading hoof beats echo loudly in his ears,
but where they took his brumby, who could tell?
He thought they might be heading south towards the sheltered ridge
that marked the boundary of states beyond McBurney’s Bridge.

Intoxicated laughter mocked the silence of the bush-
the crooks were running free and on a high;
for miles they pushed their stolen acquisition on and on,
and fought him as he reared and pawed the sky.
They harshly whipped and kicked, derided angrily and swore-
the animal was panicked and distressed-
yet grimly persevered until they’d forced him to obey
and cease his futile struggles to protest.
Then finally, beyond the bridge they camped beside the creek
which nestled under Bogan’s Ridge beneath Malingee Peak.

They tied a rope around his neck and harshly pulled it tight,
secured him to a eucalyptus tree,
provided him with water then, and following debate
supplied him with some food begrudgingly.
The horse stood by forgotten as they sprawled within their camp
discussing their intended next attack,
while counting up and gloating-but it wasn’t very long
before they’d had enough and hit the sack.
Their drunken sleep was heavy so they didn’t stir or toss,
and silence reigned beneath the ever-present Southern Cross.

The sudden peace pricked Watchman’s ears; relief was fast and deep,
for patiently he’d waited in the gloom
observing while he chewed the rope until it frayed and snapped,
preparing for his journey to resume.
He lingered for a moment, on alert for any noise;
once satisfied he turned, again to halt-
continued very cautiously until he felt assured
that no-one moved. The time had come to bolt!
He dipped his muzzle, buttocks tense and twitching, head oblique
then resolutely hastened north and left Malingee Peak.

Some rain began to drizzle; vicious lightning slashed the sky,
the wind picked up and thunder split the night,
but Watchman kept on galloping with firm and steady stride
and rescue as his only goal in sight.
Resourceful and intelligent, retracing every step
he swiftly made his way from Bogan’s Ridge,
then navigated somehow the terrain traversed before
and launched himself across McBurney’s Bridge.
At last he saw a slope that he could clearly recognize-
began his arduous ascent, and climbed MacKenzie’s Rise.

Intent and steadfast on he went, his only thought of Jack,
while flashes forked and crackled to the ground.
The rain was intermittent but the storm was raging hard-
it seemed the earth was trembling with the sound.
He hurtled from the pinnacle towards the home he knew,
perceived the conflagration from afar;
but never hesitating for a moment in his stride,
he charged like some demented avatar.
Then suddenly, with courage none could ever hope to teach
he leapt the dreaded precipice that loomed at Devil’s Reach.

The wind was howling-workers battled on to save the house
with Jack still trapped beneath the fallen beam,
unnoticed out the back because of urgent job in hand-
half-conscious, he believed it was a dream.
He heard a sound like distant drums and glimpsed a flowing mane-
his spinning mind found tricky to accept
this glorious black Pegasus with pacing, airborne hooves-
it felt like time stood still as Watchman leapt.
He didn’t falter-Jack watched stunned, in awe of what he’d done,
while Watchman cantered up to where he lay on Dawson’s Run.

Undaunted by the danger, eyes wide open, spitting foam,
his nostrils flaring, flanks awash with sweat,
the horse defied the heat and smoke to drag the stockman free,
no longer heeding any fiery threat.
The rain increased, and suddenly the men had gained control
of flames consuming trees and structures there;
but Watchman had fulfilled a purpose none had realized-
‘till now they’d been completely unaware,
despite the burning stench, the chance that fumes could bring him down,
and memories of terror from that day in Campbelltown…

The thugs were caught and thrown in jail to rot for many years,
while Jack was compensated for his loss,
but legends of this partnership the people still recall
through every state the bushmen ride across.
From way up north in Arnhem Land to western New South Wales,
Victoria to Queensland and beyond,
they share the story widely how the stockman and his horse
developed such a strong, amazing bond;
how Watchman fled, leapt Devil’s Reach-that blaze he didn’t shun
but faced his fear to save his master’s life at Dawson’s Run.

The Tale of Molly Riley by Catherine Lee (Highly Commended)

The Property by Susan Sommerlad (Highly Commended)

100 Years Since Anzac by Jim Cosgrove (Highly Commended)

Ipswich City Council Award – 16-17 Years

Queensland Times Award- 14-15 Years

Broderick Family Award – 11-13 Years

Ipswich District Teacher Librarian Network Award – 8-10 Years

River 94.9 Award – 5-7 Years