Jack Drake was first introduced to the bush poetry of Banjo Paterson at age seven in 1957. Words and verse became a part of his life but he did not only read about the bush, he lived it.
School had few attractions for a lad who could think of little but horses, cattle, dogs and the outdoor life, and neither Jack nor the Education System were unduly concerned when they parted ways at the earliest legal age.
Jack broke in his first horse and competed in his first Rodeo at 14 years of age and from that time, his career path was assured. Breaking in, Shoeing and Saddling became his main occupation supplemented by mustering, fencing, yard building, shearing and any other form of rural endeavour that didn’t involve time clocks and regular working hours.
He was always blessed or cursed, with the ‘gift of the gab’, and from an early age announced shows, rodeos and M.C’d country dances. He wrote poetry from his teenage years, but would rather forget some of his early efforts. He is quite happy to admit it was only later in life that his work had any substance.
In 1986 he entered the Tourism business on Queensland’s Gold Coast and put on a daily performance called “The Aussie Outback Show” at a theme park. The show contained a Stockhorse routine, working sheep dogs, whip cracking and bush poetry. He also ran a shearing and ram parade show and operated a mini Cobb and Co coach.
Five years on the Gold Coast was enough for any bushie, and in 1991 Jack and his wife Stella set up “Red Gum Ridge Trail Rides” in the Border Ranges near Stanthorpe.
Taking tourists on escorted rides from 1 hour to 2 days duration filled in the next 11 years and it was during this time Jack began seriously writing bush poetry.
National recognition came in 2001 when he won the Australian Bush Poet of the Year Quest run by Asthma N.S.W. and the Womens Weekly magazine. By 2001 there was enough performance work, book and C.D. sales to allow Jack and Stella to give the horse business up and concentrate on bush poetry.
Jack’s two C.D.s “The Cattle Dog’s Revenge” and “Dinkum Poetry” have both gained nominations for the Australian Bush Laureate Awards and after self publishing four books, he was picked up by Central Queensland University Press. His first professionally published book of Ballads and Yards “The Cattle Dog’s Revenge” was released in July 2003 and is in its second print.
A second National award was won in 2004 with the book “The Cattle Dog’s Revenge” earning a Golden Gum Leaf Trophy from the Australian Bush Laureate Awards for the best book of original verse, at the 2004 Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Under contract to C.Q.U.P in a joint venture with ABC Regional Radio, Jack is working on an historical book that explores the similarities and differences between The American Wild West and the Australian Frontier. Volume One is already available and Volume Two will be released early in 2006.
His wins in bush poetry competitions include:
- The Asthma Foundation of NSW’s “Bush Poet of the Year 2001” in Sydney on 30.4.2001;
- The Tenterfield Oracles of the Bush Written Section in 1999, and Original Performance Section in 2000 and 2001;
- The Original Performance Section, National Bush Poetry Championship at
- the Brisbane Ekka 2001 as well and wins and placeings in many other regional contests.
- His CD “The Cattle Dog’s Revenge” was a finalist in the 2002 Australian Bush Laureate Awards at Tamworth and his latest CD “Dinkum Poetry” was a finalist for 2003.
- His book “The Cattle Dog’s Revenge” earned a Golden Gum Leaf Trophy at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards, Tamworth, 2004 for the best book of original verse for the year.
He is a regular performer at festivals around Queensland and New South Wales. He has recited his works at the Gympie Muster Poets Breakfasts for the last five years, performed at Tamworth Country Music Week for the last six, as well as many appearances at other festivals and events. As part of the “Sex, Lies and Bush Poetry” Show, Jack performs annually at the Tamworth Golf Club during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
His CDs and books have sold as far a-field as Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States as well as all over Australia, and have had air play on Alan Jones and John Laws radio programs as well as ABC National and a host of regional stations. A piece of Jack’s poetry also adorns the wall of “Café Oz” in Paris, France. He recently successfully completed his ‘Jack’s Back’ tour of the South Island of New Zealand.
Jack is available to perform at functions and also to write poems to order.
Jack’s books: “The Cattle Dog’s Revenge” is available from selected book stores or directly from Jack for $22 plus $3 postage.
“The Wild West in Australia and America. An Historical Comparison of True Frontier Tales” Vol 1 being launched on 22nd July, 2005 Published by CQUP. Volume 2 to be launched in 2006. Available directly from Jack for $26 plus $3 postage.
Jack’s C.D.s: “The Cattle Dog’s Revenge” and “Dinkum Poetry” are $20 each plus $2 postage and are available from Jack. “Bronco Harry’s Last Ride” will be available by about August, 2005.
All available by mail order from:
Jack Drake, Box 414 P.O., Stanthorpe Q 4380
Phone 07 46 837169
E Mail: [email protected]