Although there was plenty of country music and bush poetry in Camooweal leading up to the annual 2017 Drovers' Camp Festival, to truly open festivities the road to the Northern Territory was closed off for the Friday night activities outside the Post Office Hotel. These included 'The Last Great Mail Race' and the iconic fund raising street auction (the latter seeing, amongst many treasures, the last of the stockyard models going for $2,000). The street concert music from Balladeers Bruce Lavender and Jeff Brown and 'rockers' the Runaway Dixies helped to allay the unseasonable cold evening air.
Throughout the year, the Droving Heritage Centre one kilometre east of Camooweal
displays a wonderful selection of historical memorabilia from this important era of the region and beyond. 'The Shed', as is usual, became the hub this year for the 35 drovers who made the journey out to share their invite-only luncheon and their reminiscences and tales (tall and true) from their own experiences. Sadly there were some moving services for those who had gone to other tracks during the year and the number of drovers (and festival attendees) was well down on past years, primarily due to a 'flu epidemic hitting Mt Isa and beyond in the preceding weeks. But the shed still displayed its stalls and art and craft exhibits and the grounds of the camp housed authentic outback activities such as bronco branding and camp oven cooking demonstrations.
During the weekend there was a great line up of country music and ballads from the busy organiser and MC, Tommy Maxwell, along with Jeff Brown, Bruce Lavender and Peter Coad and the Coad Sisters. There was also a moving segment from the Lake Nash Gospel Band and a non-denominational church service.
Saturday afternoon saw the Camooweal country race meeting with five races, a fashion parade and a Calcutta. This was well attended by elegantly attired station, town and visiting spectators.
For the Bush Poets and Yarn Spinners there was the Sunday Bush Poets' Breakfast and the annual Drovers Camp Talent Award for performance of poems, yarns and songs MC'd and run by Brenda Joy and judged by Hal Pritchard. It was sad that due to illness, drover John Lloyd and Carmel were unable to come this year but Rhyl Graham of the Townsville Bush Poetry Mates gave a very welcome hand as scrutineer. There were 20 entries across the three categories and results were close. (See the winner's list below.) Throughout both of these segments poems written by drover Bruce Simpson and by Ian Michaels (who died in December 2016) were presented.
Also below are the results of the top six placegetters in the Post Office Bronze Spur Award for written verse judged from sixty-six entries. This prestigious competition with its coveted hand-crafted bronze spur award, has run every year since 1997 and was again co-ordinated by the tireless Drovers' Camp Treasurer Ellen Finlay. Both Ellen and her husband Paul who manage the site all year, deserve great applause for their non-stop efforts throughout the weekend and they in turn thank "…our many sponsors and volunteers who make it all happen…"
The Camooweal Drovers' Camp Festival will be on again in 2018 over the fourth weekend (24th - 26th) August. This will be the 22nd year of its running. Tony Anderson,
President DCAE, and the organisers of the festival invite you to "…Take some time in the outback and take the opportunity to meet and talk with real drovers who have travelled far and wide to celebrate this unique way of life." We hope you can plan your programs to join in this very special tribute festival to some of Australia's last remaining 'pioneers'.
I have been one of those fortunate people who have had the opportunity to indulge in a wide variety of interesting experiences. I grew up in a musical family and even as a child artistic pursuits were my passion. This transferred in adulthood to being a University student, a primary and special education teacher working with learning disabled children, an author, an artist, a night club singer, a minstrel, a troubadour, a storyteller, and last, but of course not least, a wife and a mother.
As a balladeer/songwriter I first came into contact with modern day Australian bush poets in Charters Towers in 2007. Although I spent a lot of my early adulthood and initial marriage years travelling extensively overseas with my English born husband, I've always been a 'bushy'. I was born in Tasmania where my Dad was one of the original 'piners' who selectively axed, hauled and milled the Huon and King Billy pines in the rugged west coast forests of our island State. My penchant has always been towards the solitude, freedom and beauty that Australia can offer. So finding a living genre that dedicated itself to promoting the uniqueness of 'Australia, Australians and the Australian way of life', together with an art form that preserved the exactitude of musical rhyme and metre - I felt as if I had come home.
Since then all of my endeavours have been towards helping to keep alive and vibrant our unique Australian culture and language through the diversity of avenues that Bush Poetry offers. With my involvement as both writer and performer, I have dragged my poor husband Hal around to festivals and events throughout the cities, townships and outback of this wonderful land we are all blessed to live in. Hal has gradually been drawn in to the enthusiasm and excitement that the wandering band of exponents share and this year he has even taken on the Presidency of the Australian Bush Poets Association whilst I have become the Secretary.
So life is not going to be either less demanding or less stimulating into the future.
BRIEN, Chloe, (Ed.), 2016 Award Winning Australian Writing, Melbourne Books, Melbourne, 2016.
"Award Winning Australian Writing provides readers with an opportunity for discovery - not just of great writing, but of tomorrow's literary stars. And what a journey of discovery it is!"
-- Lisa Dempster, Director of the Melbourne Writers Festival.
"AWAW had been participated in by a myriad of Australian writers and competitions, each representing - and enriching - the country's diverse literary landscape. AWAW is committed to showcasing the work of writers who have stamped their names on Australia's writing community, as well as those who are enjoying the first flushes of success."
-- Scott Wilson, The Fringe Magazine
From 'Competitors' listings --
Brenda Joy's career was as a primary and special education teacher but she is also a published author, an exhibiting artist, and a balladeer/folk storyteller.
Brenda lives in Charters Towers North Queensland but with her husband Hal, she travels widely as 'The Darling of the Outback', to festivals and community events to judge, perform and present workshops for adults and children. She is the Promotions Officer for the Australian Bush Poets Association and the host editor for the Young Xpressions pages of the literary magazine Free XpresSion.
I have been one of those fortunate people who have had the opportunity to indulge in a wide variety of interesting experiences. I grew up in a musical family and even as a child artistic pursuits were my passion. This transferred in adulthood to being a primary and special education teacher, a published author, an exhibiting artist, a night club singer, a minstrel/troubadour, a storyteller, and last, but of course not least, a wife and a mother.
Throughout it all, I've always been a 'bushy'. I was born in Tasmania where my Dad was one of the original 'Piners' who selectively axed, hauled and milled the Huon and King Billy pines in the rugged west coast forests of our island State. My penchant has always been towards the solitude, freedom and beauty that Australia can offer. In 2008, when I 'found' a living tradition that dedicated itself to promoting the uniqueness of Australia, together with an art form that preserved the exactitude of musical rhyme and metre, all within a community of creative and supportive enthusiasts - I felt as if I had come home. Since then all of my endeavours have been towards helping to keep our genre alive through the diversity of avenues that Bush Poetry offers.
Having attained a reasonable swag of performance awards between 2008 and 2011, I left competition, but that training ground provided a kick-start into the arena of ABPA, corporate and community events as performer, MC and/or judge. When the 'Muse' insists and time allows, I still enter written competitions to hone my skills and I have been blessed to receive 48 Firsts, 42 Seconds, 35 Thirds and over 90 Highly Commendeds/Commendeds since 2010 - which simply amazes me.
I contribute frequently to the ABPA Magazine and Website and this year I have become the Host Editor for Young Xpressions in the lovely, printed, literary magazine Free XpresSion. This, together with working in schools, affords the opportunity to do something towards generating a love of bush poetry in our talented youth.
Having a wife who was both performer and writer, Hal was inevitably drawn into the enthusiasm and excitement that our wandering band of exponents share and as a travelling partnership, we are now in our second year as President and Secretary of the ABPA.
With all of this, life promises to be no less demanding nor any less stimulating into the future.
Meet a Poet - Brenda Joy
Feature Poet - we are introducing our wonderful poets (both performers and writers) to newcomers and to the general public by featuring a different ABPA poet on the Website each month. Poets featured will come from the entire membership and may be professionals, semi-professionals or amateurs, but each will be a worthy role model to represent the ABPA membership.