Bushwalkers reading these
poems will re-live
the feelings and experiences they have enjoyed in the bush even though
they may be unable to express them in the verbal music of poetry.
A number of themes recur in the poems. The main
one is love of the bush. Poetry is the ideal medium for describing its
beauty and variety. Next comes companionship enriched by humour. No
social activity equals bushwalking in bringing people from all stations
of life together and creating close friendships. Another strong theme is
escape from the "crowded life and gritty of the dusty dirty
city". In the early days the bush was simply an impediment to be
destroyed to make way for rural expansion.
Later, as cities grew, the "open
spaces" came to have an appeal akin to the American west. Folk
heroes were mainly bushrangers, drovers, shearers and stockmen. Then, as
the cities grew, citizens sought relaxation in what remained of the
bush, and many realised that it is only on foot that one can really
"get away from it".
As many of the poems depict these pleasures
don't always come easily. Walkers must be prepared to leave their cosy
homes, soft beds, television sets and even their cars, and carry their
packs over rough country, through thick scrub and up steep mountains.
They will encounter heat, cold and wet. But for those who are fit and
experienced the effort and the exercise of the bushcraft skill necessary
to enable them to camp comfortably in the bush, are part of the
enjoyment They know that the easy life is often a dull one and every
walk is something of a challenge and an adventure.
Love of the bush makes bushwalkers ardent
conservationists. Today's burgeoning nature conservation movement was
originated by the early bushwalkers, and many of today's leading
conservationists are bushwalkers. One of the five objects of our oldest
bushwalking club is "to establish a definite regard for the welfare
and preservation of the wild life and natural beauty of this
Alex Colley, OAM.