© Brenda Joy
Winner 2011, ‘Coo-ee March Festival – Humorous Section’ Gilgandra, NSW.
G’day, I’m Julia and I’ve writ this poem to tell youse what it was like for an outback, country girl like me when
I went to the coast for the first time in me life and had me ‘Maiden Sea-Change’.
I live out west of Jul’ya Creek. The start of all me plight –
I rode Old Ned five hundred miles to take me maiden flight.
That’s when them city airport bods suspected I had drugs
and when I stripped off all me gear to satisfy them mugs.
I never got to catch no plane but just to compensate,
this bloke, he said he fancied me; I got meself a date.
He said, “When next you’re down this way, I’ll take you for a swim.”
Well I had nothing on right then so thought I’d humour him.
Old Ned the horse was tuckered out when we got home out west
so I just took the station ute to give me mate a rest.
I trundled back through Jul’ya Creek, arrived in Townsville’s ‘Smoke’,
but gettin’ booked just ‘cos I had no licence was no joke.
That Townsville berg’s no fun at all, too many bleedin’ rules
like ‘STOP AT LIGHTS’, ‘NO ENTRY HERE’ – I disobeyed the fools.
Them city-slicker coppers drove me nuts with their demands
and when I’m told what I can’t do, me language soon expands.
They’d no consideration that me ute was full of rust
or that the only tracks I’d made were in the outback dust.
How could I keep in just one lane? I had a wobbly tyre.
I copped a fine for cop abuse when I let loose me ire.
It took me zonks to find me bloke – that city’s pretty full.
There were more geysers mullin’ round than cows around a bull.
He said he knew a private beach where no-one else would be.
Well his idea of “no-one” seemed like cattle sales to me.
Me bloke said, “Get yer gear off,” when we got by water’s side.
I took one look at those around and I was horrified.
Them sheilas wore them things called ‘thongs’ that wouldn’t fit me feet
and with their tops all bared! ─ Me milkin’ cows are more discreet.
Me bloke he stripped to undies half the size they wear out west.
He said, ‘They’re ‘Budgie Smugglers’*. Well! I told him “They’d arrest
you for that in the outback; we protect them birds out there.
I’m shocked you’d keep live creatures cooped in skimpy underwear.”
There really wasn’t that much stuff I was prepared to doff.
I’d tied essentials on with wire – they’d not be comin’ off
and ’less I really get provoked I don’t remove me gear.
I reckon at the planes this bloke had got the wrong idea.
Now back out west at bogie holes* I keep me clobber on;
it gets a wash same time as me, that way it doesn’t pong.
When I was young with Freddy Brown I’d skinny dip and dive
but I don’t look like I did then since passin’ … twenty-five!
But startin’ from the bottom up, I got to show me drawers.
A bloke yelled, “Love yer boardies!*” I yelled back, “I don’t love yours.”
His mates and him were crazies ridin’ round the sea on planks
that bucked them off more times than Ned with all their fancy pranks.
Their antics gave me quite a thirst; I dipped into the brink.
Out west in river water we can swim and have a drink
but when I gulped that ocean stuff, it nearly made me ill.
It tasted worse than brine I use when pickling stuff with dill.
A bloke came by, he yelled, “Good oil!”* me bloke said, “Spray some on!”
I went to find the barby. ‘For I could he’d up and gone.
I thought he’d had a racin’ tip or might’ve cooked a snag,
instead me bloke was oiled to cook! He looked a proper dag.
And now I was so hungry thought I’d get an ocean dish
but waves just knocked me round so much I couldn’t catch no fish
except one called a ‘jelly’, like a blob of granny’s stew,
supposed to be a puddin’ ’cept it stunk to heaven. Phew!
And when I grabbed the bloomin’ thing it stung. I gave a curse.
Me bloke said, “Quick, try vinegar!” That made it taste much worse.
I caught a sea ‘cucumber’ next; it felt more like a slug.
Me bloke said, later on, he’d get us both a Moreton ‘Bug’!
I’d had their salads, sauce, desserts; I’d lost me appetite.
I downed a dose of Caster Oil – that always sets me right.
The things that Townsville mob consume, their taste is all at sea.
I’d rather half a bullock like you get out west for tea.
“Give me a snag wrapped in a swag by campfire in the scrub.
Me dog’d turn his nose up at this salty coastal grub.”
I’d had me fill of beach and brine and bodies oiled and tanned.
Me boots were full of shells and grit; me bra was full of sand.
We left that ocean where it was. I wasn’t sad to leave.
Me bloke, he wasn’t givin’ in; more tricks were up his sleeve.
He took me to a sea-side caf’ with latte drinkin’ chics,
but billy-tea and damper’s more in style out in the sticks.
Then next he dragged me screamin’ to a ‘cocktail party’ do.
I didn’t see no tails nor did I see no cockatoo!
I do enjoy a bush-bash but this was no jamberoo*
The only food was stuff on sticks. They had no decent brew…
…just fizzy, fruity drinks that sheilas sipped on from a glass.
They tried to fob me off with one. I said that I would pass.
“I’m not a two-pot screamer! Bring me on a slab of beer.
I’d get as dry as sun-struck bones on plonk you serve round ‘ere.”
I got me bloke to leave that joint to try to find a pub
to get meself some Bundy rum and some half-decent grub.
But soon I found this coastal wuss just wasn’t very funny,
in fact he was as useless as a glass-door on a dunny.
I beat him at arm-wrestling then I beat him with the cue.
I drank him ‘neath the table plus I could out-swear him too
and with the prices they was chargin’ he ran out of cash.
When I became fly blown* as well, t’was time to make a dash.
I’d had enough of ‘Sea-Change’, Townsville’s coastal caf’s and bars
where critters were as hypo as a Gum tree of galahs.
told that bloke he’d knocked me up.* Out west that spells, “Hooray!”
Give me the Bush, Old Ned, me bulls and snaggers* any day.
* Glossary –
‘Budgie Smugglers’ – men’s hipster underpants
‘bogie hole’ – swimming hole
‘boardies’ – men’s large underpants
‘good oil’ – a racing tip
‘jamberoo’ – lively party
‘fly blown’ – penniles,
to get ‘knocked up’ – (city) made pregnant, (bush) become exhausted
‘snaggers’ – rough shearers.
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