Australian Bush Verse & Poetry Forum

A forum for the interaction of all interested in maintaining the traditions of Australian Bush Poetry.
  1. Merv Webster
  2. Welcome and Introductions
  3. Friday, 20 September 2019
  4.  Subscribe via email
G;day Folks.

I was born in the Queensland border town of Goondiwindi and, as my dad was a banker, his work took us to a number of towns throughout Queensland. I received my education to Junior level and then tried my hand at various occupations such as a Lad Porter on the Railway, then as a Clerk for the Commonwealth Bank, an Accountant, and the Toowoomba City Council. My wife was a Roma girl, Christine Edwards, whom I married in Toowoomba and we would have four children.

After marrying I worked as a Clerk, Shop Assistant, Slaughterman and an Electrical Line Worker. These jobs took us to towns such as Toowomba, Roma, Cairns, Gatton, Warialda and Goondiwindi. During my time in Roma I took an interest in stock work and received an education on all aspects of the life, some of which I'd rather forget, from a hardened old drover. Chris' dad. In 1994 we moved to Bargara, where I began writing a book on my family's history.

Impressed by the writings of Keith Garvey and stories told to me, along with the experiences I had with Chris’ dad, I began trying my hand at writing bush poetry. My first book of bush poetry was called 'Tales of Uncle Jim', which was well received. In 1996 I met Neil McArthur, a fellow poet, who encouraged me to try performing my poetry at the Bundy Mob's Bush Poets Muster. This was the beginning of my career as a Performing Bush Poet.

I have been fortunate over the years to be able to perform and win numerous awards for my performance bush poetry at such places as the Mapleton Yarn Festival, Poets on the Downs, Jondaryan Country Music Rush, The Winton Waltzing Matilda Bush Poetry Championships, The Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame, The Bundy Mob’s Bush Poets Muster, Central Queensland Bush Poetry Championships, The Surat Battered Bugle, The Gympie Muster, Camooweal's Drovers Yesteryear Festival, Harvey Bay Whale Festival, North Pines Camp Oven Festival, Glengallon Bush Poetry Festival, Imperial Hotel Bush Poetry Competition, Tenterfield Oracles of the Bush, Bard of the Outback and the Australian Bush Poetry Championships at Yarrawonga-Mulwala.

Yarn spinning has become very much part of the bush poetry scene and I have enjoyed competing at competitions such as the Mapleton Yarn Festival, Jondaryan Country Music Rush, The Australian Yarn Spinning Championships [Winton Waltzing Matilda Festival], The Bundy Mob’s Bush Poets Muster, Millmerran Muster, Gatton Yarn Spinning Festival and the Yarn Spinning Championships at the Australian Bush Poetry Championships at Yarrawonga-Mulwala.

Since 1996 I won a number of awards for my written bush poetry, which were included in the eight books of bush verse and yarns I have published along with three albums. I have been a finalist on four occasions at the Golden Gumleaf Bush Laureate Awards at Tamworth with my books and once with Chris for our CD, 'Chris and The Grey, A Selection of Bush Verse'. I also have a track on The Australian Bush Balladeers Albums, Volumes 4, 5 and 7 and the 2005 Katherine Country Music Muster Album.

My desire to see the advancement of bush poetry encouraged me to take on the job of Bush Poetry Events Co-ordinator and for two years I was Co-ordinator for the Bundy Mob's Bush Poet's Muster, two years Joint Co-ordinator of the Oasis Bush Poetry Competition at Tamworth as well as the Easter In the Country weekend at Roma. I also co-ordinate the bush poetry at the Katherine Country Music Festival and the Far North Bush Poetry Festival. I have had the privilege to act as compere at many of the places I have performed and see it as an important role in keeping any function running smoothly.

Since 1999 Chris, and on occasions my dad, joined me in our own show of Bush Poetry and Yarns, which we called 'Laughter & Tears from the Bush'. We have toured Western Queensland from Miles through to Camooweal, the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Easter In the Country at Roma, the 1770 Festival as well as Festivals, Expos, Farmfest, the Barcaldine Heritage Centre and numerous other venues throughout Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

Over the years Chris has accompanied me to The Tamworth Country Music Festival where we perform our show in front of Grace Bros., now Target. From 2000 until 2003 Chris and I were resident bush poets at the Bailey Bar Caravan Park at Charleville during the winter months where we performed our Bush Poetry and Yarns show daily and we had the opportunity to meet so many folk and introduced quite a few of them to bush verse. In November 2004 I released my debut Bush Ballad EP/CD, 'The Bushman & The Balladeer', a tribute to R. M. Williams and Slim Dusty, featuring the songs, 'R. M. Williams - a Man Who Had Tried' and 'I Never Cried For Elvis But I Shed A Tear For Slim'.

In 2005 I was hoping to get some feedback from my Peers and tried my hand at song writing and entered The Lyrics Only section of the Katherine Country Music Muster's Northern Territory Song Writing Competition and was nominated as one of the five finalists. On the Saturday night of the Muster, Balladeer Keith Jamieson announced that I had won the section with my song 'Chasing Buttons.'

Then in 2006 I thought I'd enter the TSA Awards at Tamworth and received three out of the five nominations in the Lyrics Only Section of their National Song Writing Contest and on Wednesday night of the Awards, Tania Kernaghan announced the finalists and then singer/songwriter Tom McIvor opened the envelope and announced that I won with 'The Maintop Balladeer.'

In 2006 I again tried my hand at The Lyrics Only section of the Katherine Country Music Muster's Northern Territory Song Writing Competition and was nominated as one of the five finalists. Keith Jamieson again announced that I had won the section with my song 'Granddad's Crusty Damper.'

Later in the year I received three finalist nominations in the Lyrics Only Section of the S.E. Queensland Branch's Song Writing Awards and took out second place with "I Wish I Were a Crocodile" and third place with "Son Play Another Coster Song". In August I released a new EP/CD "From Bard to Balladeer" with seven of my own compositions.

I thought I'd again enter the TSA Awards at Tamworth and in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 I was a finalist in the Lyrics Only Section of their National Song Writing Contest. I was also the winner in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2017.

I was bush poets Rep. for the Australian Bush Balladeers from 2003 to 2007. Chris and I continued to perform our shows up until 2017. I began taking on MC and Stage Manager at various Festivals and still do the odd one today.

Today we go out once a year and have a look around this great big Island of ours without having to book shows ahead and if the occassion arises we enjoy sharing our work with folk..

Sadly a number of talented writers and performers of bush poetry I met throughout the years have and themany Balladeers have passed on but there are still a few who keep alive the storytelling of our way of life in Oz through bush verse and ballads.
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Harry Harper
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Welcome, Merv, and thanks for your magnificent intro, well said. Hoping your stay with us is long and enjoyable.

Cheers, Merv,
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