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Spinning Yarns With the Best of Them In Australia's Outback

THE bush poets of today echo the same themes as the poets of the last century. Poetry is the recorded evidence of a strong stirring of nationalism pulsing through Australia in the 1890s. Poems helped paint a portrait of rugged, self-sufficient, laconic but loyal people with a sharp sense of humor.

This is part of Ted Egan's poem, ``Bush Woman'':

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She's living on a station

In an outback situation,

And, the first things that you notice

Are the lines on her tanned face,

But those wrinkles frame the twinkles

That light her eyes with laughter

When she talks about her children

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And, the fact that she's their teacher,

She says: ``Isn't that amazing?

I myself had little schooling.''

But she reckons it's her duty,

Give the kids an education

For she'd never leave the station life

She's leading - with her husband,

Somewhere, in the outback,

In the bush.

Fits the correspondence lessons

In among the thousand other jobs

A woman in the bush has to do,

Like - bleed the generator,

Bake the bread, tend the chooks,

Late at night she does the books,

Bottle-feeds the little joey

The kids had promised they'd look after,

Checks the baby, has a cuppa,

Then recalls she must be up

At six to go to town

To get the part to make the grader start.

Turns her snoring husband

On his better side,

Says: ``Night, night Sexy'',

Wearily, she tumbles

Into bed.

She's about as soft as butter,

She's as gentle as a kitten,

She's as tough as rugged granite

She's as savage as a tiger.

If you jeopardize her children

You'd quickly wish you hadn't,

But she'll laugh and lead the singing

At the I.C.P.A.* party

And she'll make the ginger beer,

Bake a sponge, run the cake stall,

Nothing special, nothing flash,

But nice to raise a little cash,

Money for the Flying Doctor,

Never know, it might be your turn

Next, when you're living

In the bush

And, maybe, once or twice a year,

Generally her husband's birthday,

Organize a baby sitter,

Just the two of them for dinner,

All dressed up and looking gorgeous.

And she's the backbone of this country,

She's alive and well today,

She's the mainstay of Australia,

And that's all there is to say.

*Isolated Children's Parents Association

This poem was recorded by our reporter at a reunion of cattle and sheep drovers at the Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach, Australia.

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