Australian Bush Poetry 1

Australian Outback Homestead painting by Sian Butler.

Australian Outback Homestead Painting by Sian Butler.

Australian Outback Poems by Sian Butler.

Sian has travelled extensively throughout the Australian Outback and writes of her love for this ancient land with simplicity and heart-felt honesty. Sian’s inspired poetry is complemented by her painted impressions of the raw Australian Outback and the beauty of this rough and dry heartland. (Laya Ross, Sian’s daughter).

The artist Sian Butler.

Please enjoy and share, however the poems (and paintings) are copyrighted and not for commercial use without the poet’s permission.


The Abandoned Homestead

Not as sad as it seems

it fulfilled someone’s dreams.

The garden’s not needed

it’s no longer weeded

The old folks are laid to rest

their family has flown the nest

The fields lie fallow

the dam is shallow.

Australian Outback Homestead.

Australian Outback Homestead. Pastel and Ink Painting by Sian Butler.

New homes have been found for the cats and the dogs

leaving only some snakes and a pond full of frogs

The ducks have departed

looking downhearted

The chooks are laying their eggs

when a different mistress begs

The sheep have joined another flock

adding to a farmer’s stock

The horse that carried the children to class

has been retired, put out to grass

Well, as for the poddy cow

it’s patted by new kids now.

This home has completed its task

there is nothing more to ask.


A little explanation: “chooks” is an affectionate Australian slang term for chickens.


Outback track. Pastel painting by Sian Butler.

Outback Track. Pastel Painting by Sian Butler. As usual, Sian nails it.


Highways and Byways

We creep out of the park, sometimes while still dark,

with some anticipation and a feeling of elation

Our car is our steed and fills every need

to carry us afar on gravel or on tar

Like a snail with a shell in tow

it is our home as well

Uluru. Pastel painting by Sian Butler.

Uluru (also known as Ayer’s Rock). Pastel Painting by Sian Butler.

Our trusty caravan fulfills our nomad plan

The engine purrs; nobody stirs

The call is strong and the road is long

This country I must see: a rite of passage it is for me

This pilgrimage has to be made before life begins to fade

As the sky lightens the world brightens

On the brink of dawn a new day is born

This country is ours for a couple of hours

before others wake and to the road take

What will the day bring to make my heart sing?

Is there a fossil to be found or an opal on the ground?

An eagle flying by with flashing amber eye

as it lifts its kill to some far hill?

Wild flowers in the field or crops with a full yield

Animals, insects and logs, waterfalls, ponds and frogs?

Smoke bush of bluish grey or orchids with blooms that won’t stay?

A bush poet at a campfire

Of this we’ll never tire

Around the block we go though we may be very slow

It could take months; it did take years; with wonder and laughter; some troubles and tears

One day at a time the journey is made. For riches and fame I would not trade

the places and people I met on the way even though I couldn’t stay

There’s time to be and much to see

Twenty five years in the making this trip that I am taking

in a land so vast but I’m here at last

Many adventures we’ve had – mostly good but some were bad

From ghost towns to graves and bush walks to caves

with paintings from the past that the present will outlast

of stories so old they need to be told

Gorges so grand that have carved out the land

Shining beetles large and small, different trees twisted or tall

A potholed road; another cane toad

Lizards in the sun, snakes as well – not fun

A dinosaur stampede written in the rock

These footprints are held in a virtual time lock

Crocs with muddy trails, fish, dolphins and whales,

turtles and seals were part of the deals

Beneath the sea a grand and bright coloured wonderland

The ocean with beaches of gold or white, each a stunning and glorious sight

Bats billowing in the trees; moths fluttering in the breeze;

Sunsets a pleasure forever to treasure

We sit near a fire on a crisp desert night ‘neath millions of stars incredibly bright

The mountains are shades of violet and blue; the bushes and trees of a greenish hue

The earth in between red, mustard and brown in colours not seen in city or town

A dip in a crystal clear pool from a hot spring that never will cool

A walk along a dry river bed: the oldest in the world it is said

A Ulysses butterfly lands on my hand as in absolute wonder and awe I stand

A dream come true blue out of blue

This wonder and mystery is now part of my history

I’ll forget the weariness and heat, the flies impossible to beat,

missing family and friends as the road never ends

These are shadows in the sunshine of this amazing trip of mine

my heart opens wide with my mate by my side

driving silently and well: he loves this land I can tell

A lifestyle of choice where I have found my voice

From the outback to the sea it is now a part of me.


A little explanation: a caravan is called a trailer in the US.


Wanderings in the wilderness. Australian Outback painting by Sian Butler.

Wanderings in the Wilderness. Australian Outback Painting by Sian Butler.


The Old Farm Shed

This old farm shed that looks so forlorn

was out of necessity born.

It stands under stately cherry trees

home to birds, possums and bees.

It has stored the hay

harvested by May.

Tools hung from hooks

over food for the chooks.

There were baskets for eggs

and bikes without treads.

Old wagon wheels from the owner before

left abandoned beside the door.

Several drums of kerosene

against each other they did lean.

Also, plenty of mice

caught by cats in a trice.

The shed is missing some poles

and the roof has several holes.

Its walls are falling apart

shedding planks for a start.

With the patina of age,

changing at every stage,

to an artist it still has charm.

Once part of a working farm

this shed may not stand for long.

It is no longer strong.

About to fall into the clover

its days are nearly over.

For this artist it’s such a boon

I really must paint it soon.

This poem will be its tutorial.

My painting will be its memorial.


Humble Outback Shed. Water colour Painting by Sian Butler.

Old farm Shed Shed. Water Colour Painting by Sian Butler.


Central Australian Outback Scene. Pastel painting by Sian Butler.

Central Australian Outback Scene. Standing water usually quickly disappears into the thirsty sand, and also rapidly evaporates in the dry heat. Pastel painting by Sian Butler.


The Dry Riverbed

Its banks are bordered by trees

with leaves fluttering in the breeze.

Their trunks so strong

and their branches long.

Some twisted and turned;

some horribly burned

in a terrible fire

where the outcome was dire.

Their roots plunge down deep

for water they must seek.

Those that grow near the river will thrive

but further away it is hard to survive.

Some puddles remain after the rain

and the river will fill one day again.

Now, instead of cool water, just dry sand and mud.

A river gum drops a branch with a thud

as a way of shedding its heavy load.

With luck it may land on a horrid cane toad.

The sunshine is strong

and the shadows are long.

Pebbles and rocks

and occasional flocks

of budgies so green

a delight to be seen.

Animals come from the banks to play.

As the water dries up they will not stay.

Birds fly down to drink their fill

splash and bathe in the puddles until

the riverbed cracks into curled up squares

of contracting mud that rips and tears

all life out of the earth.

All that is left is a dearth

of nourishment for life

just drought, and waste, and strife

The water has flowed on its way to the Centre

its primary goal being Lake Eyre to enter.

Part of a great inland sea

that long ago used to be

but now the lake comes and goes according to the weather

as the seasons and systems they all come together.

After the next flood that surges this way

the dry riverbed will see a new day.


Outback scenery. Pastel by Sian Butler.

Outback scenery. Pastel by Sian Butler.

Poems and paintings by Sian Butler. Thank you Sian for so generously sharing your bush poetry and paintings. Copyright.

Thanks to my sister, Laya Ross, for her design and keyboard skills!

Outback dusk. Pastel Australian Outback landscape by Sian Butler.

Outback Dusk. Pastel Australian Outback landscape painting by Sian Butler.

Hopefully, more to come.


3 Responses to Australian Bush Poetry 1

  1. Laya Ross says:

    Banjo who?
    More, please!!!


  2. Laya Ross says:

    Musical, rolling Outback Poetry! Just beautiful!


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