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2019 Overall Winner & recipient of the Babies of Walloon bronze statuette

Ipswich Poetry Feast Encouragement Awards

Picture Ipswich Awards – Open Age

Ipswich City Council Awards Open Age – Local Poets

Joy Chambers & Reg Grundy Awards Open Age – Other Poetry

Ipswich Poetry Feast Awards Open Age – Bush Poetry

Kelly's Corner by Heather Knight (1st)

Australis in Extremis by Catherine Lee (2nd)

We longed for just a drop of rain through unrelenting drought,
small glimmer of a merciful release,
but brutally it blistered on, invincible and fierce,
withholding any hint that it might cease,
with arid creeks and rivers gaping scars across the land
now dirt bowls lined with rocks and twisted trees –
             their quest for liquid thwarted,
             bleached roots exposed, contorted –
and not the slightest modicum of breeze.

Our starving cattle scraped the moss from boulders with their teeth
in desperation, seeking to survive,
while sheep were living skeletons, their fleeces grey and snarled –
we struggled just to keep them alive;
but finally, with grim reluctance, broke and forced to act,
we knew we had to end their misery –
              the staggering and rasping,
              bleak bellowing and gasping –
a harrowing mass grave their destiny

On sharp alert, with bushfire warnings hitting record highs
and moiusture sapped from dehydrated eart,
we ate through our reserves of fodder, cash and fortitude,
and wept to tally up the total worth.
the baking banks which once contained abundant flowing streams
now spread like fractured patchwork in the dust;
               while ancient forests yielded,
               from burning sun unshielded,
we pushed ourselves to cope and readjust.

Fatigue was overwhelming us as pastures dulled to brown,
with heat intensifying every day;
it dealt a mighty hammering, made worse by sweat and flies,
and much-loved horses falling by the way.
no grass to eat, we fed by hand and tried to make ends meet
as anxiously we peered towards the sky;
              mirages shimmered, taunting,
              reality was daunting
in this, the very driest of the dry.

Renewal would be slow in coming, this we knew for sure –
some showers came, but never quite enough;
we fought to shake the pessimism, prophecies of doom,
remind ourselves we’re made of sterner stuff.
But numbered by devastation, overtired and under strain,
decay and damage shocking and obscene,
             discouragement was growing,
             the tension clearly showing,
since nowhere showed the smallest sign of green.

Recalling now that blissful hope when first we scented rain
snd felt those early drops we’d ached to see,
our faith that this would hold and heal the desiccated soil
to end the shrivelled, scorching agony
we ponder how we couldn’t know the suffering to come
as daily it increased in strength and size –
             relief the only feeling,
            with trust in nature’s healing –
“At last, the welcome rains!” our happy cries.

But normal levels amplified – a deluge was unleashed –
proportions we had never dreamt to know;
for days on end the swollen clouds spewed wrath from angry skies,
cascading onto thirsting plains below.
Initial apprehension turned to disbelief and dread;
we understood such volume would prevail –
           torrential downpour roaring,
           unprecedented pouring –
then horrified, we realised the scale.

The carcasses of kangaroos were scattered all around,
while drifts of filthy silt drowned countless birds;
our livestock lay in ghastly piles where, gathering for warmth,
they’d perished in a way too sad for words.
They’d huddled for protection in their tragic little group
where terror must have marked their every breath.
            We shudder at their panic
            bewilderment titanic,
each patch of earth now blanketed in death.

So once again we load our rifles, mercy mission bound,
attempt to count the legions that have died;
in searching for survivors, hearts are breaking at the sights –
insurance cannot bridge this great divide.
They’re cutting fees, supplying hay, and crews are working hard
rebuilding where they can from dawn till night;
           nut so much time is needed
           til waters have receded,
and jobs are disappearing left and right.

The vegetation’s stripped and whipped, while icy winds drive on
to add to our dilemma and distress;
with flooded ground engulfed we’re standing helpless and appalled,
Distraught at crumbling futures we assess.
our paddocks now one boundless muddy ocean to confront,
we wonder how we’ll ever get ahead –
           results of crushing torrent
          destruction vast, abhorrent,
revealing almost everything is dead.

We’ll battle on regardless as we do in times like this,
though mental torture’s difficult to bear;
we’re facing years of hardship with no income to be found;
but won’t succumb to ill-advised despair.
The burdens of exhaustion and despondency combine
whenever nature launches such attacks,
             but courage lies in knowing
             the sympathy you’re showing –
assurance that the nation has our backs.

We cannot pay the banks, so call on government for aid,
and beg that you will also play a part
by buying local products and assisting where you can
to guarantee at least a place to start.
Though strong, we’re almost broken so we need a helping hand,
appeal for your compassion and support
            through this, a new dimension
            of punishing extension –
apocalyptic ruin it has brought.

In replicating circles as the climate changes come,
through drought and storms, we’ll resolutely stand;
we only ask you don’t forget us, try to comprehend
our passion and respect towards this land.
Please wait with us in thoughts unspoken, hold us in your prayers
till rains abate and this ordeal is done;
              and then in celebration
              of answered supplication,
once more we’ll dare to bless the rising sun.

A Simple Epitaph by Tom McIlveen (3rd)

Mallee Farmer by Max Merckenschlager (Highly Commended)

From Gallipoli with Love by Tom McILveen (Highly Commended)

Song of the Water-Lilies by Max Merckenschlager (Highly Commended)

Walk a Mile in Our Shoes! by David Campbell (Highly Commended)

Ipswich City Council Award – 16-17 Years

Queensland Times Award- 14-15 Years

Broderick Family Awards 11-13 Years

Ipswich District Teacher Librarian Network Award – 8-10 Years

River 94.9 Award – 5-7 Years