Where meagre rains are tinted red
From dust the Western winds have borne,
The publican to stranger said:
“We’re fortunate that here is shorn
A class of wool unique in hue—
The pre-dyed fleece of Station View.

“And as for boundary fence and post
That creeping sand is wont to reach;
Their disappearance lets us boast
Possession of an inland beach—
Devoid of water (that is true),
But few can swim in Station View.

“The spinifex is not a pest
As most outsiders seem to think,
Because its tumbling from the West
Draws lonesome cowboys in to drink;
And that’s what keeps our town afloat—
The whisky sales these weeds promote.

“And though our buildings look rundown
To those who favor formal brick,
We cultivate a trend in town
That tends towards a shabby chic;
Where peeling paint is a la mode,
And faint the praise for bland abodes.

“The frill neck races in the spring—
Now that’s a sport of boundless thrills!
To see them run around the ring
On skinny legs, displaying frills,
Brings tears of joy and Cheshire grins;
Especially if your lizard wins!

“Astronomy, you’ll be amazed,
Is all the rage on cloudless nights;
When homemade telescopes are raised
By locals spying Martian lights—
Seen redder here than cherry pie
Thanks to our gritty, ferrous sky.

“What’s that? I’m just a mental case!
This town’s an unremitting dump!
For you, we’ll very gladly place
An extra hairy nettle clump
Inside your city-fitted britches.
Then, as you flee, beset by itches,
We’ll say: ‘One less to share our riches!’”


Frill neck: the Frill Neck Lizard, or Frilled Lizard, is a species in the family Agameida. These striking creatures are endemic to northern Australia and New Guinea.

Spinifex: a genus of perennial coastal plants in the grass family.
This is one of the most common plants growing in sand dunes along the coast of Australia.



.David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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16 Responses

    • David Watt

      Thank you very much Joe. I’m glad you gained a few laughs from my flight of fancy.

  1. lionel willis

    A superb rhyme, David, worthy to be got by memory and repeated when one needs a chuckle or two or many. As a bonus you give us a feast of words with which we are not likely to be familiar. (As a former biologist I recognized the Spinifex and Frilled Lizard, but learned new things about them here.) I went through all forty-three lines with my usual pedantic glee, hoping to find at least one with a halting step and came up empty! And then there’s that nicely designed inconsistency in the extra line: One more to find room for “one less.”

    • David Watt

      Lionel, I do try to come up with something unfamiliar, and I think the fact that I reside in Australia assists in that regard. The lack of a halting step in this piece is most gratifying. Revision and revision again always pays dividends.
      Thanks for appreciating the extra line in the concluding stanza.

  2. Peter Hartley

    David – I always welcome your contributions from down under, and this is no exception. Its rollicking flawless tetrameter races from start to finish, and it is full of joyful humour. I don’t know how you could help writing good poetry in Australia, a wonderful place, and I remember taking a train from Sydney to Canberra and scarcely seeing a single house in the whole journey of nearly 200 miles, never mind a frill-neck, but then I suppose it’s a bit too cold for them in NSW and CT. Some day I’m going to find something funny to say about Manchester but don’t hold your breath.

    • David Watt

      Peter, you’re right about the train journey from Sydney to Canberra. There are many more sheep and cattle to be seen beside the line than houses. Frill-necks love the heat further North. Even Sydney’s a bit chilly for their blood.
      I reckon that if anyone could come up with something funny about “Cottonopolis”, it would be you.
      In Australia we still call the section in a store displaying sheets the Manchester Department. In fact, when two department stores merged recently in Canberra they were obliged to call the resultant sheet and towel section Manchester United.

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    David, thank you for a marvellous treat of rhyme, rhythm, rapture, and wit! I love the musicality and humour of the poem, but, more than that, I adore the vivid descriptions of the surrounds. I especially like the lizards racing “On skinny legs, displaying frills”. It reminds me of when I first encountered the sweaty melt of the sprawling coastal plains of Texas having lived in the fresh, emerald garden of England. After the initial shock and horror, I have grown to love the lay and way of the land and its many curious critters. This is a poem I will return to with a knowing smile. Thank you for adding an extra ray of brilliant sunshine to my day!

    • David Watt

      Thanks Susan for your generous comments. I always thought that Frill Necks look rather comical when posing with frills extended. It would be a difficult task though to gather a few for racing purposes.
      It must have been a massive change to move from the green of England to the coastal plains of Texas. New surroundings have a wonderful habit of graduating from strange, to familiar, and then to treasured.

  4. Margaret Coats

    David, the picture, with no Station in View, suggests that this might be a nowhere poem–not just your usual happy picture of the charms of Australian isolation. Now those frill-necks must be real, but maybe they race on their own. Is the speaker in fact a mental case? Or lonesome and afloat with whisky? The beach and maybe the sheep are imaginary. “Cheshire grins” also hints at a mirage. I imagine that you as poet can only say “maybe” to these possibilities!

    • David Watt

      Hello Margaret, you are correct in suspecting that this is a ‘nowhere poem.’
      Station View was invented as a sleepy town somewhere in the desiccated outback. Frill-Necks can scamper around, but generally do so of their own accord.
      I used a liberal amount of poetic license in substituting whisky for beer in this piece. The speaker in an outback pub would more likely be afloat with beer than whisky.

  5. Jeff Eardley

    David, may you ever have hairy nettles down your trousers and a massive frill-neck down the dunny.
    This is yet another candidate for Sir Les’s in-tray.
    A brilliant, uplifting piece and boy, do we need a bit of that. Thank you.

    • David Watt

      Nettles down the trousers would no doubt concentrate the mind. A Frill-Neck down the dunny-now that’s a frightening thought! I’m glad you enjoyed the laughs Jeff, they do seem in short supply these days.

  6. Paul Freeman

    Great stuff, David. I couldn’t help but read this in an Aussie accent.

    I was reminded, quite understandably, of the hotel/bar and its occupants at the beginning of Crocodile Dundee, perhaps being visited by Mrs Jessop from The Sullivans.

    Cheers, mate for a bonza read!

  7. da

    Paul, the boastful exaggeration displayed in the Crocodile Dundee bar scene is in a similar vein to the Station View publican’s claims. As a rule, publicans
    enjoy the sound of their own voice.

    Thanks for your positive comments.

  8. Yael

    What a fun way to describe a town, I love it! I can particularly relate to the fourth and seventh stanzas, as they could just as well apply to my neck of the woods.

  9. David Watt

    Yael, a weathered exterior is like a well worn coat. It continues to serve its
    purpose, and gains character through years of service. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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