CAMDEN Haven poet Milly Jones took out first prize in the Manning in Rhyme Poetry Competition.
Milly was presented with her prize in a ceremony at the Taree Library.
The judges were most impressed with Milly’s excellent standard of rhyme and metre, as well as her choice of subject.
Her trip to Western Queensland last year was the inspiration for her heartfelt bush poem entitled Heading West.
"I'm off out west," he mumbled, "I've got a seat that's spare
if you want to come and join me, if you'd like to come and share
the red earth and the spinifex, the sunset and the space,
we'll just follow any highway and end up any place."
So they packed their bags, her paints, his line and
left behind the beaches with their the sparkling sunny sand.
Looking inland was their vision, giant footprints were their goal,
they'd follow distant signposts - food for thought and for their soul.
So they went by creek and waterfalls and sounds of sheoaks sighing,
past gorgeous golden wattle and twisted mulga dying.
Saw the sorrow of relentless dust, the brown and dried up streams,
the stark and naked countryside where drought has ended dreams.
Past Stockman's Creek and Dead Dog Gulch, the Thompson and Paroo,
where the only sign of wildlife was the dogged kangaroo.
They lay mangled by the roadside a feast for cawing crows,
leaving grief to ride beside them passing endless silent rows.
There's the colours of the distance, the jump-ups standing clear
defined by beaming ochre bringing ancient history near.
And reds and blues and pink and grey, the wings of flashing flight,
left them breathless at their beauty like the purple starry night.
Our country grows its people, and wildflowers in the spring,
the kind that lives on nourishment that only hope can bring.
You can meet them after work each day in any outback pub,
yarning with the barmaid while waiting for their grub.
But they'll go home to easy street where water's from a tap,
not to worry that the rain won't come, couldn't care a rap.
So they wandered down the map again and left it all behind,
The jewel we call our outback that only some will find.