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Quaint rhymes of earlier times

Date
Penleigh Boyd's watercolour 'The Canberra Site' (1913) embodies the words of Badjam's Queanbeyan poem which was composed in 1914.

Penleigh Boyd's watercolour 'The Canberra Site' (1913) embodies the words of Badjam's Queanbeyan poem which was composed in 1914. Photo: Courtesy National Library

Some entertainments may contain gratuitous sex or violence but this column continues to indulge instead in gratuitous quaintness. A reader has exhumed this quaint old poem (it shows some flair, too) about Queanbeyan and its neighbouring federal capital territory, composed in 1914.

The poet, Badjam, saw the Canberra that Penleigh Boyd saw and painted in his famous The Canberra Site (1913). Badjam, painting with words in his Queanbeyan, takes us to the top of Queanbeyan's Mount Jerrabomberra and gives us a verse cyclorama of what he can see of our region which includes, of course, the site of the city of our dreams. The poem is far too long for us to include it all so here is a precis. Do not read further if gratuitous quaintness offends.

From Jerrabomberra let us scan

The environs of Queanbeyan,

Australia's future crown and story [site of the capital city]

Lie within its territory!

First south-west look:

There the mountains rise

Towering giants to the skies:

Laving their feet, fed by Winter's snows,

The limpid Murrumbidgee flows.

Its waters teem with perch and cod,

And gamesome trout to test the rod;

Shy platypus in ev'ry pool

Disport themselves at ev'ning's cool.

When winter yields to Spring's warm glow

That strips the mountains of their snow,

Then Murrumbidgee at full height

Is awesome in his wrathful might.

Gaze where one will, on left and right,

Wheat-lands and pastures meet the sight.

Woden homestead, em'bowered in green,

Under a shelt'ring hill is seen :

(I have often wondered how the name

Of Nordland's heathen god became

Affix'd to the leagues of rolling land

Outspread before us as we stand?)

To west of Woden lie Tuggranong,

Lanyon House, Cuppacumbalong,

Havens of rest in declining years

For men who toil'd as pioneers.

[Here Badjam's gaze wanders off into the alps for a few verses. Then it comes back to Queanbeyan, and on to the Limestone Plains.]

And now in a ''bird's-eye view'' behold

Queanbeyan township hoar and old,

For its tree-grown streets and bosky parks

Are of its age the certain marks!

Let our gaze run east, o'er garden plots,

Villas, orchards, kine-graz'd flats,

Until we mark in a distant gleam

Molonglo's mingling [with] Queanbeyan's stream,

'Mongst waving fields and pastures green,

With gentle slopes and groves between!

With a glance nor'-east, we turn due north

And see before us bursting forth

In verdant beauty at high noon

The Limestone Plain and sweet Duntroon.

And in and out, like a silver streak,

Winds the Jerrabomberra Creek!

[Now he goes to Saint John's church in today's Reid.]

We follow the road till it descends

To cross the [Molonglo] river where it bends

'Round Canberra church all ivy-clad,

With rippling sound of music glad.

Two leagues hence the Queanbeyan junctions

Murrumbidgee's fertile functions.

From no point of vantage can we fail

To find in mountain, stream, and vale

Some newer charm, some fresher glory

Of our Fed'ral Territory!

- Badjam

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