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River 94.9 Award – 5-7 Years

Metro Hotel Ipswich International Award – Open Age Bush Poetry

Bluey by Tom Mcilveen (First Prize)

Billy Backytin by Glenny Palmer (Second Prize)

He came from Kuridala on the Thargomindah side;
it was there he learned to rope and brand, and there he learned to ride,
and there his strong ambition formed to be a droving man,
and the Kuridala boozer’s where his droving days began.

He toiled behind the boozer’s bar, for want of better work,
and I met him when I rode in on my way from Barrenburke.
He told me of his hopes and dreams, that came from deep within,
and I took a shine to this young bloke, young Billy Backytin.

A long and lean and lanky bloke with burnished skin and hair,
he was full of wit, a larrikin, a true blue Aussie lair.
He had a special saying when misfortune came to town,
“Aah, the sun will shine tomorrow mate, don’t let it get you down.”

The boozer’s cook was never far away from Billy’s side,
and he’d often patched the young bloke up —‘repaired his reckless hide!’
for Billy loved the rodeo despite his mate’s disdain,
and the cook stood ever watchful with —“an aching in me brain.”

It seems the cook had lost his boy to rodeo’s tough call;
it was back in winter, forty-two, he’d watched the tragic fall
that claimed his son, and each day since, that horror burned within,
‘til his heart embraced this bold young lad, young Billy Backytin.

“The first time I laid eyes on him I knew he’d be my mate.
I was outback on the wallaby, and it was getting late,
when Billy here appeared, and asked if he could camp the night,
and we got to know each other, yarning ‘round the campfire light.”

It wasn’t hard to see the cook saw Bill as more than friend,
and this lad without a family respected him no end,
but he’d just say, (when he found strife that made the old man frown)
“Aah, the sun will shine tomorrow mate, don’t let it get you down.”

We got to talking finance, Bill, the boozer’s cook and me,
and we downed about a dozen pots, then reckoned we could be
the captains of bush commerce, drovers extra-ordinaire;
we could all be rich and famous—call each other millionaire.

They jacked their jobs and joined me, and we rode out further west,
where we landed on a thousand head from old Jack Crawford’s rest.
Ahead we faced five hundred miles of dust and flies and drought,
over saltbush plains and red soil, down the Wokingham Stock Route.

A thousand cleanskin yearlings that were born and bred out back
started wandering before us down that isolated track.
The dust clouds were relentless from four thousand tramping hooves,
while the leaders and tail enders formed a mood that disapproves.

Unsteady in the spelling camps, they fussed around the troughs,
and amongst the roars and bellows you could hear their rasping coughs
from seeds and dust they breathed, as onward grudgingly they’d crush;
when we bed them down at night, a tenner said they’d bloody rush.

My canvas swag on rock hard soil felt like a feather bed,
after long hard riding took its toll and burned within my head,
but hollow night time stillness settled softly on the camp,
and the silhouettes were peaceful from the glowing kero lamp.

A transcendental wailing lingered gently on the night,
as our Billy played harmonica beyond the campfire light.
I drifted into slumber from this soft bush reverie,
in a frail cocoon of refuge, in that outback symphony.

Then suddenly the peace disintegrated in the night
when a big raw boned young bullock shied and set the mob to fright;
they bawled and bellowed madly rushing frenzied through the camp,
and the baiter bellowed likewise, swinging wild his kero lamp.

No man could ever hold them then – could calm the fear crazed rush,
of that maddened mob of yearlings running wildly in the crush;
we cracked the rawhide whips and tried to turn the mongrels back,
but they tore like souls demented down The Wokingham Stock Track.

They tore like souls demented like a river in revolt,
in a maddened cloud of chaos that old Satan couldn’t halt;
four thousand pounding fear filled hooves defied the stockwhip’s sting,
and right then I found religion—there was Billy on the wing!

A phantom-like night rider, Billy tried to wheel the lead,
and I rode flat out to back him up but there was never steed
or stamina to match the man, I wasn’t in the show,
and I bellowed in hysteria, “Bill, let the bastards go!”

But Billy disappeared within the writhing mass of fear,
and I screamed in wild anxiety, but Billy couldn’t hear.
The baiter too was mounted then; in frenzied fear he tried
to locate his little mate—and I could swear that bushman cried.

Acacia needles clawed his face and whipped his sweating chest,
as he charged on wildly, blindly, in his agonising quest.
I swore that all the hellfire down in Satan’s evil lair
had erupted through the trembling earth, exploding pure despair.

The thundering subsided as the mob sank out of sight,
and the only movement left was ghostly dust clouds in the night.
Both frozen in the moment, we stood—statues of despair;
not a sound – no sign of Billy, in that coal black midnight air.

If you should set your footsteps on The Wokingham Stock Track,
and you tarry by the water troughs, you’ll see a little stack
of bush rocks, and an epitaph—there scratched upon its crown…
“Aah, the sun will shine tomorrow mate, don’t let it get you down.”

The Morning Star by Bruce Simpson (Third Prize)

She - Ode to the Wind by Mal Beveridge (Highly Commended)

On Alison Bridge by Zillah Williams (Highly Commended)

Hearts of the Wattle by Mal Beveridge (Highly Commended)

Nothing Much to Tell by Tom Mcilveen (Highly Commended)

Picture Ipswich Theme Awards

Ipswich Poetry Feast Encouragement Awards

2018 Overall Winner & recipient of the Babies of Walloon bronze statuette

Rosewood Green Award – Open Age Local Poets

Joy Chambers & Reg Grundy Award – Open Age Other Poetry

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