Joan Small Poetry and Books


Australian Bush Poetry and Books
By Joan Small

Jack Noble

Jack Noble was a larrikin who roamed the Aussie bush.
His life was free and easy with no rush, no stress, no push.
A bushman and a linesman. A station cook I'm told.
He lost one eye but ventured still to take a look for gold.

Prospecting was his hobby, in goldfields he was known
For finding gold in scrubby bush - a yellow gleam in stone.
He lobbed up to a miners' camp at Tennant Creek one day,
And heard the talk of nugget gold. Jack said, 'It's time to play.

An old friend named Bill Weaber, wife Kath and son called Owen.
Met Jack there in the bush camp, and said, 'Where are you goin'?'
Jack said, I'll search out east my friend some twenty miles or so.
I hear there's specks of yellow gold. I'm off to find a show.'

Bill said, I'd love to join you Jack, but both my eyes are blind.
I staked them out at Kimberley so I can't assist your find.
But my boy Owen's fourteen years, his eyes are good and bright.
In sunrise Jack and Owen found the gold in morning's light.

It's said they saw the nuggets gleam like match heads all around
Then Weaber and Jack Noble's rich new syndicate was found.
They pegged four leases promptly. The first was 'Rising Sun'
Then 'Weaber's Find' and 'Kimb'ley Kids'. Jack said, 'That knob's not one.

'There isn't any gold up there, in that red rocky hill.'
But Weaber's wife Kath named it - she had an iron will.
She said 'That's Nobles Nob' and you just mark my words today.
In future times you'll thank the Lord you let me have my way.

I don't know if the spelling was precisely meant to be,
But 'Nob' it was, and Nob it stayed and turned out happily.
For Nobles Nob when sunk with shafts became the richest one.
But Jack had sold and Bill had died, and so had Weaber's son.

The Weaber family's tragedies are for another story.
Jack Noble got his gold and then he earned much fame and glory.
A drinking man, a rouse-about, Jack sold his company shares
To buy the local pub, and then went sampling all its wares.

He put his drinks upon a slate . He drank them down with ease
The publican soon owned the pub and Jack was on his knees.
The publican was Alex Scott, Jack left him with the pub.
While he enjoyed an easy life out wand'ring in the scrub.

He took some jobs and looked for gold, whatever came his way.
But companies now owned the mines and Jack had had his day.
He took off west through desert on his camel in the heat.
Sometimes he rode his horse until more drinking had him beat.

He lost at cards and swapped the horse for bicycle, to hike
Out in the bush, the strangest thing - prospector on a bike.
As quickly as the cash came in it fell out through the hole.
And legends of Jack Noble are told by famed Tom Cole.

I met him in the '50's. We lived on Nobles Nob.
He had no home, no wife, no kids. Night watchman was his job.
In later years when frail and sick to Alice Springs was sent.
And failing fast, missed Tennant Creek. 'Go Home' was Jack's lament.

So money was collected and they built a Red Cross Home.
Jack lived in '’Noble House' from then, the bush no more to roam.
He rests in Tennant's cemetery beneath a bent gum tree.
The richness that was Nobles Nob is Noble's legacy.

© Joan Small May 2005

The Outback from a Train

I traveled in the Outback south from Alice on the Ghan.
A narrow-gauge track railway. ‘Twas a money-saving plan.
The year was 1965 and I was young and keen.
The train was slow, so we had time to view the passing scene.

A-clack-a-clack along the track, a true adventure ride.
While framed in each large window, native trees and bush would slide.
The graceful white bark ghost gums soon gave place to mulga grey.
Then rolling sandy red hills turned to stony mud and clay.

The earth was parched and barren with a brilliant clear blue sky.
Through glassy panes it shimmered with the heat, as we passed by.
While in my comfy cabin in the cool I sipped a drink,
And wrote a letter to my love, with time to pause and think.

I’d left him back in Alice while I journeyed to the sea.
But hoped on my return that he’d propose upon his knee.
As I observed the Ghan and all the passengers in sight,
I’d note it in the letter, as I’d always loved to write.

We had some fun, my bro and I. The cabins were quite flash.
The bar-room car the place for cards. (We didn’t play for cash.)
The cook allowed us special drinks, and kids stomped down the aisle.
A fellow actor from our town cracked jokes that made us smile.

And all this was recorded as I watched my letter grow.
But then our journey halted when the train began to slow.
The window picture froze as we pulled up with quite a jolt.
No town, no railway station. What had caused the train to halt?

A buzz of questions answered then. The track was wet you know.
Near Oodnadatta it had rained, and now we couldn’t go.
For ten hours we were stranded in the desert in the heat.
No air conditioning while we stopped. We sweated head to feet.

The meals with many choices turned to, ‘Cold lamb or miss out!’
And adding to my troubles I’d a cold - I’d caught a bout.
Then water coolers too ran dry, but still with spirits high,
I wrote all in my letter, and it helped the time pass by.

No scrap books then, I made my own with drawings, cartoons, rhyme.
While others groaned with boredom my love letter passed my time.
At last the engines started and we crawled along the line.
Changed trains at Maree then to Port Augusta. All was fine.

As through Mt Lofty Ranges into Adelaide we drew,
I wrote a final line and with some kisses sealed it too.
A sixty four page letter. I would post what I did write.
Then buy my love some Christmas gifts for when we’d re-unite.

The holiday in Adelaide was full of friends and fun.
Some movies, shops and partying, then basking in the sun.
My brother wanted bowling, but I chose to read and plan
About the day that I returned to see my loving man.

The journey now is history. My dreams they all came true.
I walked the aisle with Robin, and was thrilled to say, ‘I do’.
Three handsome sons, now with their kids. The story lives again.
Because I left my love to see the Outback from a train.

© Joan Small September 2006

Aussie Icons

What Icons do you see that make Australia what we know?
Gargantuan rock called Uluru – a wondrous place to go.
Or is it at the Pinnacles in WA’s fair south?
Or Sydney Harbour’s bridge that’s standing at Australia’s mouth.

What springs to mind when you think Oz? Perhaps Australia II,
The Twelve Apostles, Sovereign Hill or is it Kakadu?
The glorious gleaming whiteness are the sails of Opera House
Or Icons like the kangaroo or small marsupial mouse.

So many are the Icons, each animal and bird;
The flightless running emu and the platypus absurd.
But me, I think of characters as Icons real True Blue.
Like Rolf the singer, artist, Dulux painter – funny too.

There’s Harry Butler in the wild, Pro Hart in Broken Hill,
While Bert still shows his TV face – an Aussie Icon still.
And in that show Four Corners you may find a George or Liz,
And don’t forget our Pauline, who tells it like it is.

Dame Edna, Daryl and John F, or Kate to dance and sing,
While overseas our Kylie has her next romantic fling.
So many are our Icons from the past their names we know.
The poets like our Banjo will outlast our Russell Crowe.

What makes an Aussie Icon a symbol to endure?
It’s got to get inside your soul and stir emotion pure.
It has to tell a story – be it person, place or thing.
It has to be endearing, and make us want to sing.

To stir us like Steve Irwin, uplift us and inspire.
Fill us with finer feelings; create in us desire.
Desire to win, to have to hold or just to stand and stare.
Our Icons can be close to us, or far, or anywhere.

Perhaps they are not really there, but only here inside.
Like Peter Allen said, no matter where, how far or wide
Our home is how we feel it, when near or when apart
We still will call Australia home – Oz Icons in the heart.

© Joan Small October 2009

The 'Golden Heart' Refreshed - Northern Territory 

Blue sky up above, a refreshing cool breeze
The brightest clear day, not a snuffle or sneeze.
The air smelling fresh, unusually so.
I thought it was summer but how would you know?

The atmosphere’s dry but the ants are stampeding.
They crawl up my legs when I’m doing the weeding.
Inside their small brains instinct senses damp.
A sudden bright streak lights the sky like a lamp.

There’s a scent in the air of clouds closing in.
Then the drops on the tin roof are making a din.
'Oh, Send her down Hughie', my Dad used to say
When the loud rumbling followed the flash through the grey.

Boom! Thunder claps ring and it rains 'dogs and cats'.
Get out your umbrellas, put on your rain hats.
McDougall, a Pom, says the rain’s 'tipping down'.
And from Battery Hill we can’t see the town.

The tour guide is gath’ring his mob like a chook
And racing for shelter. This tour is a look
At the tropical rain that is strange for November.
In all the years past it’s not come till December.

We 're grateful for downpours. Our Seven Mile Creek
Once sandy and dry will flow fast for a week.
Rain awakens our senses - the sounds, the perfume,
The coolness and freshness, the light from the gloom.

New birth for the country, a sense of beginning,
The rainbow shines through and the birds are all singing.
A baptism Holy for Nature and all.
A glorious shower to delight and enthral.

(c) Joan Small 2007

Tony Campbell – Prospector/ Miner

It just so happens one day I was there,
On an old mining site in the scrub.
Where the prospector-miner had set up his camp
He’d asked me to share in his grub.

‘But first have a beer, and pull up a pew,
And we’ll jaw for a while as we sip’.
He hitched up his shorts – checkered - tied up with string
And he rubbed his red beard ‘neath his lip.

Well, his beard wasn’t red – it was bulldust ingrained,
Which presented a dusty red glow.
And beneath his worn hat there were faded blue eyes,
That sparkled with much he did know.

He told me of finds that he’d had – nuggets huge,
Tobacco tins full he then showed.
The gleam of the gold and the weight in my hand
Were the proof he had travelled that road.

I’m not a beer drinker, but drink it I must
Or I would have been rude to my host.
He showed me the pics when his daughter had wed
And I felt I was seeing a ghost.

Clean-shaven and smart in a quite different life
With beautiful family around.
Then he told me his tale – how his life had gone wrong
And his ship had been wrecked – run aground.

Once in Kimberley’s richness of diamonds and gold
He’d owned quite a spread, living free.
He’d sent all his gold to an Adelaide bank.
He was wanting to sell it you see.

So he flew down to Perth and he met with some blokes
Who drank with him – offered him cash
If he’d show them a guarantee that it was true
He was owner of such a large stash.

Off to SA he went just to photo his gold
Get certificates stamped by the bank
Back to Perth with the evidence it was all his.
Very soon he would walk with a swank.

Proceedings took time, and a good deal was signed
But the day that he flew to his home
He found that the crooks had been jumping his claim,
And the place he no longer did own.

They’d found that his pegs were not set where they should
So dis-owned Tone departed from there.
And wandered around at the Centre’s Ayers Rock
In a state of depression – despair.

At last he discovered more gold in the bush
To the west of the Marbles – NT
So a hermit he was when I met him out there.
But he still liked to have companee.

He threw on the fire our repast for that night,
(When his life he had kindly revealed)
A kangaroo’s tail, surrounded by spuds,
With his huge bowie knife they’d been peeled.

The meat was delicious, it fell off the bone,
And when Tony had downed his last ale.
He retreated to bed – all his talking was done.
It seemed ‘twas the end of his tale.

The morning dawned bright – billy tea and some toast
Broke the fast, and then Tony announced.
‘I’ll be having my bogey’, and into the shed
That was open to sky Tony trounced.

I could not believe it – the man that emerged
In blue chambray shirt and white hat
With sparkling white beard and fine leather belt,
But the thing that would top even that…

Was the pair of white moleskins above shiny boots,
And I looked at the creases and said,
‘How did you… ?’ he answered with laughing blue eyes.
‘Neath my mattress upon my old bed.

I had a few laughs at his funny old ways,
The stories of time he had spent
Heard more of his life as I drove him that day
For a spree into Tennant he went.

Though charming, he still was a con man at heart,
To the gold crushing battery in town.
He took his gold ore, and he promised to pay
When Perth Mint had re-melted it down.

They waited and waited, but out in the bush
There’s no phones – just the bush telegraph.
So that prospector miner got crushings for free
And Tony had had the last laugh.

© Joan Small 211208


Norm is a character and so full of fun.
He’s happiest only when with everyone.
He does all his tours with a laugh and a joke
He’s what you would call a real Aussie bloke.

A battler, a struggler, but caring of friends,
He bounces right back, despite any trends.
He’s married to Rails, and she’s cheery too.
But will backbone of steel she helps Norm get through.

I count them as special. They keep my life normal.
Stormy Normy is casual – not the slightest bit formal.
So seeing him there every day on the hill
Is better than drugs or my Herbalife pill.

For a laugh is the cure for the world’s biggest woes.
With Norm’s smiling face all the worrying goes.

© Joan Small 2000


'The Adventures of a
Free Settler in Australia'
1848 - 1896

A Rollicking Tale'

Edited by Joan Small
Print Book $25.00Au includes post/handling

James Dannock book

Print Book $25.00 AUD includes Postage in Australia

'The Adventures of a Kid on an Outback Goldmine' Peter Turner


$15 USD

The Adventures of a Kid on an Outback Goldmine'


Ebook $15.00AU

A humourous true story of Growing Up in Australia's Last Goldrush Town, Tennant Creek, Northern Territory - 10 years to Adult.

Peter Turner lived on 'Nobles Nob' Goldmine 14 km from Tennant Creek from the age of 6 to 16 years. The stories told in this book are in the style of an Australian Tom Sawyer - a larrikin kid and his free life of fun and feuds in the bush.

'General Gordon Bennett and the
Battle of Western Australia'

'General Gordon Bennett and the Battle of Western Australia' by Dick Turner reveals the little-known story of how General Gordon Bennett
used subterfuge in Western Australia during WWII to fool the Japanese and thus prevent them attacking the nation from the west. Dick Turner was a country accountant who heard and saw evidence of this amazing bloodless "Battle of Western Australia.

Email Joan:

Helensvale Writers' Group
Helensvale Writers Group - Joan Small3rd Thursday each month
Helensvale Library - ground floor meeting room
11.30 am to 1.30 pm


Contact Joan:

Poetry in Paradise
Poetry Club
Poetry in Paradise - Joan Small
3rd Sunday
each month
Southport Library meeting room
1 pm to 3.30 pm