Local Events


WINNERS ARE GRINNERS in traditional and modern verse. L-R Eileen Flynn, Barry Graham, Maureen Luke


On the weekend of the 23/24th April, Charters Towers Gold City Country Music Club staged the “All Australian Jamboree” showcasing the best true blue country music performance and competition in the North. On the Sunday morning the early risers, and there were a lot of them, were treated to a Bush Poet’s breakfast conducted by the Townsville Bush Poetry Mates Inc. ably assisted by locals Wendy Emmerson, Jean Lindley, Allan Lennox and the hilarious Jo Cronin. When the laughter died down, the focus shifted to competition, the Traditional and Modern Bush Poetry sections saw a small number of entrants, Townsville poets all, victorious in both categories and also claiming all the runner-up placings. A Junior section resulted in a fine showing as four local contestants battled it out with some very good original poems, and it is great to see that the future of our unique poetry is in good hands. The Gold City Country Music Club should be congratulated for their efforts in preserving our culture, and it is obvious by the crowd numbers that many others feel the same. We hope to be back next year with a much increased number of contestants, to enjoy all this great weekend has to offer.

Barry Graham President T.B.P.M.Inc.


A change of venue this year, as we dined in air-conditioning at the Bellevue Hotel on Sunday 29th November.  A good selection of “one-minute poems were presented with the suggestive theme line of “the seedy motel had squeaky beds”.  Eileen Flynn was declared the winner, with:-

The Seedy Hotel Had Squeaky Beds.

There was excitement in the air
As we had been invited where
Our poetry had never been before.

An idyllic small oasis
The most picturesque of places
And we’d be staying for at least a week or more.

But the seedy hotel had squeaky beds
And the curtains were in shreds,
And the mattresses sagged down towards the middle.

They were lumpy, grey and old
And may I be so bold as to suggest
Those stains could have been made by piddle.

We went to bed in the hope
The sheets were thick enough to cope
With protecting us from the germs beneath.

But our sleeping plans were shafted
When the night time chorus started,
With moans and groans, and someone ground their teeth.

All night the beds were creaking,
There were snores and farts and squeaking,
And scratching – there were flamin’ bed bugs too.

Next day, with aching heads
We left that motel with squeaky beds,
And vowed , in future, we’d take more care with what we do.

Eileen Flynn

Bush Poetry at the Pinnacles Riverway Arts Centre

Bill McClure reciting Maureen reciting Bill M 2 reciting  Eileen 2 reciting Del recitingBarry reciting

Bill McClure, Maureen Luke, Bill Moline, Eileen Flynn, Del Luke, Barry Graham
On Sunday 8th of November the Townsville Bush Poetry Mates performed poetry complementing the Transparent Watercolour in Queensland 1850s – 1980s on display at Pinnacles Riverway Arts Centre. The many and varied displays reminiscent of Queensland of this period, captured scenes from throughout the state whilst Townsville Bush Poetry Mates also painted vivid scenes from today and yesteryear.
While just a handful of poets recited, the poetry presented by this small number of poets was vibrant in both humour and nostalgia and certainly complemented the tangible works displayed within the gallery. The enthusiastic audience appeared to enjoy both forms of artwork.
Thanks not only to this enthusiastic group, performers and audience, but also to Tegan Ollett from the Gallery who along with Barry Graham, President of TBPM and Lyn Tarring, Events Secretary did a fantastic job of organising this most enjoyable afternoon.

Poetry in North Queensland – Walkman Country Music Club

On the weekend of the 10th and 11th of October, 2015 a few members of the TBPM travelled to Mareeba to perform at the Poet’s Breakfast at the Walkamin Country Music Club’s weekend of country music. The breakfast is organised by Kay Kiely along with a written poetry competition every year around this time. Kay and John stayed on site in their van leaving their home for the poets to reside in over the two nights. There were four poets Eileen Flynn, Del Luke, Janeen Mapson, Dot Church and also Eileen’s other half, Bill who read Barry Anderson’s great poem about our champion North Queensland Cowboys and their great premiership win.
Janeen Mapson did a great job as emcee for both mornings and while both days started a little slowly the momentum quickly built. There were a number of local poets who performed which made for some great entertainment.
On the Saturday the results of the written competition were announced with first place going to Shelley Hanson of Maryborough and Terry Piggott from Western Australia and third position going to none other than our own Treasurer and valued member Rhyl Graham with her poem Morning Dew. This is beautifully written poem and reflects on the patterns of life on a dairy farm from the quiet of the early morn to the evening from ‘dewdrop to dewfall’.  See this poem in “Some Original Poems” section – Editor
Several of the poems entered in the competition were read out over the weekend and though only a handful of Townsville poets attended it was a great weekend. A special thanks to Kay and John for their warm hospitality.
Janeen was very impressed when the group spotted a Tree Kangaroo high in a tree at the Curtain Fig; see the pictures as evidence of this
Kay and John, hopefully, one way or another we will be back again next year.

Bill Flynn celebrating the NQ Cowboys NRL victory

Bill Flynn celebrating the NQ Cowboys NRL victory

Janeen Mapson - our MC

Janeen Mapson – our MC

A tree kangaroo with poetic aspirations

A tree kangaroo with poetic aspirations

Townsville Bush Poetry Mates joined in the 150th Anniversary celebration of the Eureka Hotel at Thornton’s Gap, Hervey Range on Sunday 13th September 2015.

Now that's a setting for bush poetry!!

Now that’s a setting for bush poetry!!

Barry Graham arousing the crowd

Barry Graham arousing the crowd

T.B.P.M. poets Janeen Mapson, Del Luke, Bill Moline, Eileen and Bill Flynn, Barry and Rhyl Graham, along with Geoff and Maureen Luke performed a mix of humorous and traditional Australian Bush Poetry for over 140 enthusiastic folk at the Drovers Breakfast, Sunday morning.
Support was ably provided by Gympie’s Laurie Pointing, and Boulia’s finest, Frank Fayers, both exceptional poets in their own right, and the morning was a great success for the many charities and special interest groups involved, the rustic location of the Heritage Tea Rooms the perfect venue for the event.

Included in the morning were very interesting talks on the early droving era through the Thornton’s Gap and original Hervey Range road by notable cattle men Henry Atkinson, and George Yardley, detailing the difficulties of moving large mobs of stock over the primitive tracks of the day. T.B.P.M. members really enjoyed the day performing for the crowd of more than 150, and the interest created in preserving Bush Poetry for our future generations.

Barry Graham


On Friday the 21st August 2015, the final Royal Flying Doctor Service fund raiser for the year was held at the Lakes Holiday Park Townsville. The Townsville Bush Poetry Mates attended after an Invitation from park managers Leah and Jason, and entertained the crowd of (mostly) grey nomads with an informal evening of both traditional and humorous poetry. The crowd hung on every word, as poet Del Luke recounted her life on isolated properties, and just how much the R.F.D.S. means to these folk. Del also explained the contents of the steel box of medical supplies, the D.I.Y. instructions, and advice from the R.F.D.S. by radio for the worse cases, before perhaps the arrival by air of the Flying Doctor. Gail, from the R.F.D.S. backed everything Del said, and it was a wonderful insight into the workings of this fine service. The evening continued with raffles, lucky door prizes, more poetry, finally ending after 8.30pm. One nomad was heard to remark, ” I’ve been on the road a long time, and I’ve been to a lot of happy hours with singers and bush poets, but this one was the BEST one yet!” We look forward to being invited back, when next year the Fund raisers start.
Barry Graham


Our 10th Birthday Cake

Our 10th Birthday Cake

Barry Graham's Holden hubcap

Barry Graham’s Holden hubcap

Original members, Eileen (in red) and Kathie, cutting the birthday cake

Original members, Eileen (in red) and Kathie, cutting the birthday cake

Rhyl Graham's stick reindeer

Rhyl Graham’s stick reindeer

Eileen's winning entry Redback spider Santa

Eileen’s winning entry
Redback spider Santa

On November 30th, 2014 club members came together at Dick and Margaret’s spacious home overlooking Halifax Bay, for our Christmas party.
In addition to celebrating the end of a very fruitful year of sharing Bush Poetry from Tamworth to Mareeba, we were also marking a special milestone for our club..
In 2004, Annette Conroy asked Melanie Hall to help her establish a poetry group and in October that year a small number of people gathered to share poetry in a Warrina coffee shop. In 2014, we were proudly celebrating our 10th birthday. Eileen and Bill Flynn and Kathie Priestley attended those early meetings and Eileen and Kathie had the honour of cutting the cake.
Members were given three challenges, The first was the one minute poem, which had to contain the words “our 10th birthday bash”. As usual there was a diversity of ideas from the sublime to the ridiculous, all greeted with lots of laughter. Our judges were Don Wickens ( who was also official photographer ), Belinda Lee-Hall, and Margaret Moody, and after a long deliberation pronounced Barry Graham as the winner.
The second challenge was for members to create something Christmassy, decorative, with an Australian theme. How creative are our members? Barry’s Holden hub cap hat displaying iconic Aussie labels, Rhyl’s stick reindeer, the decorated hats bearing an assortment of Aussie animals, but the prize went to Eileen’s Redback spider Santa made from the seed pod of the grevillia glauca. These seed pods were used by bushmen as clothes pegs.
The third challenge was to eat the amazing array of foods provided. A big thank you to Bill McClure for donating a seafood voucher, another thank you to Richard for organizing the bbq food, and to Richard and Margaret for opening up their home to us.
As people were preparing to leave, there was time for a final round of poetry, to end a most enjoyable day.



A Visit from Milton “The Maestro” Taylor

‘It was somewhere in September….’ Well it wasn’t really it was a clear autumn day in May but it should have been in September, when Bush Poetry came to life.
The Townsville Bush Poetry Mates had approached Milton Taylor to conduct a workshop back in September last year but the gods intervened and Milton’s workshop was placed on hold. So when Milton contacted ‘The Mates’ to say he would be in town the weekend of May the 10th and 11th, the group jumped at the chance.

Milton, a very ordinary looking man, who by his very demeanour, showed ‘he had been around’, arrived at 1 McAlister Street, Oonoonba Saturday morning. Little did we know the powerful affect he would have on this small band of Bush Poetry enthusiasts? His long love affair with Australian poetry brought about by his life experience as a shearer, miner, performer, teacher and other various positions soon became evident in his verse and performance. The poet’s encouragement and a love of rhyme, written verse, words and all things Australian brought out the best in this group. An ordinary man with extraordinary talents captivated his students. With these exceptional abilities, this dinkum Aussie poet awakened in all many latent emotions, some of which, I am sure we never knew existed.

Milton instilled in us: the need for perfect structure and rhyme – that can be built from everyday topics or subjects; to be always looking for a new subject to write about; edit, revise, revise and revise again; look for exceptional words, do not repeat the same word or phrase but find one that lifts your work that bit more each time; steer clear of inversions; use perfect rhyme – near enough is not good enough; do not become too focussed on your own work but ‘borrow’ exquisite words from others; keep a diary or pen and paper handy to write down what you hear, read or see.
Milton’s use of limericks shows a quick way to practice rhyme, metre and structure in a short piece. We all had a go at doing this; some of the results were hilarious. Besides being great fun, what an excellent drill and exercise to improve skills.

I guess the assistance with our written work as well as our performances was really a great hit but what stole my heart, and I am sure the hearts of my colleagues was Milton’s rendition of his latest award winning poem – Remember.
Remembering you Milton will not be difficult for ‘The Mates’.
Thank you ‘Milton the Maestro’ for a wonderful day and the great opportunity to live a day with you in Australian verse.
In the words of W. H. Auden …..A poet … is a person who is passionately in love with language. We are certainly smitten!


On Sunday 22 March, 2015, two members of the T.B.P.M., Janeen Mapson and Eileen Flynn, made an early start to drive to Tom and Dianne Mauloni’s delightful Mena Creek property “Spurwood Springs’. They joined the happy crowd which had gathered there for the Feast of the Senses Bush Poets Breakfast and Competition.
The capacity crowd heard poetry presented by people of all ages, from six to well over sixty. As well there was singing by Barry Anderson, whip cracking by whip maker, Sheryl Cavanagh, and Tom Mauloni showed how his sheep dog could control ducks and sheep.
The Townsville poets didn’t go home empty-handed. Eileen won the open performance competition, while Janeen was awarded Highly Commended in the written competition and placed third in performance. The judge of the competition, Chris Long, said it was pleasing to see young people reciting bush poetry as this would help keep an important part of our heritage alive.
The success of the morning was not just the entertainment. It was in no small part due to Dianne Mauloni’s magnificent effort in the kitchen with her helpers, producing huge plates of food, all the tea coffee and juice you could drink, followed all too quickly by morning tea.
Photos courtesy of Maria Girgenti Tully Times.

Eileen Flynn performing

Eileen by Maria Girgenti

Janeen by Maria Girgenti Tully Times
Janeen Mapson in full flight.


The Pub with no Beer Festival in Ingham on 20th April 2013 celebrated the 70th anniversary of Dan Sheahan’s famous poem penned in 1943 when an American bomber support group in convoy and en route to Darwin with their final destination New Guinea, had left Townsville in what they thought was to be a two hour trip to Ingham, fourteen hours later and untold creek crossings they arrived there exhausted, settled into the hotel and stayed there until all the beer was all gone.


The next day when Dan Sheahan and his mates arrived for a drink the pub was dry, the poem was created, turned into a song by Slim Dusty in 1957 and has been played all around the world. Dan Sheahan born in Ireland in 1880 and passed away in 1977 at the age of 97, an international acclaimed poet with many of his ballads still being played in towns through Ireland today.


70 years on and old mates catch up to have a beer in the now iconic Queensland hotel in Ingham, from the left Kerry Kendell, North Queensland Ringer, Dan Sheahan retired cane  and cattle farmer and son of the poet Dan Sheahan, Cliff Robinson, Queensland ringer and  artist.


Townsville Bush Poetry Mates from left to right, Barry Graham, Rhyl Graham, Wendy Oss and Janeen Mapson, they travelled to Ingham to entertain the 1000 strong crowd that gathered to watch the re-enactment of the convoy arriving at the hotel followed by the Sheahan descendants lead by Cody Sheahan, entering the main street.

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