The Bush and the Outback

"It was hard not to find something to do in a 10,000-hectare backyard. All that vastness under a big blue sky. All that unbridled freedom and glorious solitude. It was addictive and remains so."


"Fair Australia, Oh what a dump.
All you get to eat is crocodile's rump,
Bandicoot's brains and catfish pie.
Let me go home again before I die."

ANON, ANON - Old Bush Ballad

"The beauty of the air, from the air... You haven't seen Australia unless you see it from the air. The coastline, the colours of the inland. The claypans, the forests. It's just all so beautiful. You'd never see that from the road. People climb mountains to see these things. You see that every time you take off."


"I stress the uniqueness of the Australian landscape and its metaphysical and mythic content. "


"But the bush hath moods and changes,
as the seasons rise and fall,
And the men who know the bush-land
- they are loyal through it all."

THE, BULLETIN - 23 July 1892, In Defence of the Bush

"A queer country, so old that as you walk on and on, there's a feeling comes over you that you are gone back to Genesis."


"I am lucky to live in an incredible place of deserts and ancient culture. Rugged country, at times harsh and unforgiving, but this facade crumbles every now and again to reveal the true delicacy of life in Desert Country…"


"I woke to heavy rain. Nothing particularly unusual about that apart from being in the desert, and it had been a 20-year dream to see Uluru with water pouring down her flanks. Arriving at Mutitjulu Waterhole carpark, I could see the water spider-webbing down and across the deep red rock. I stood in water shin deep beside the track, in awe of the magic I was witnessing… Birds were performing their morning chorus as usual but this time they were backed by a rhythm section of thousands of frogs. As I moved closer the ‘SHHHHHHHHHHSHHHHHH’ sound from the waterfalls and waterslides flowing over the rock chimed in, creating an orchestra and scene to touch anyone."


"The hot wind, born amid the burning sand of the interior of the vast Australian continent, sweeps over the scorched and cracking plains, to lick up their streams and wither herbage in its path, until it meets the waters of the great south bay; but in its passage across the straits it is reft of its fire, and sinks, exhausted with its journey, at the feet of the terraced slopes of Launceston."


"It's the colours, the light, the space. It's really very deep in my soul... In the Australian bush and inland deserts, there is a sense of being the first person in a place."


"Today the thing I find myself thinking about the most is our landscape...I think it's something a lot of us take for granted; for many of us Australia is just there but how many of us have really seen it, have seen Kakadu or Kings Canyon? I know I hope to at some stage, to see Uluru at sunset and the ancient art in the Abrakurrie caves. I think it's our landscape which defines our identity and it's what I'm most grateful for."

PROFESSOR MICHAEL, DODSON - Australia of the Year Presentation, 2009

"'Neath the gumtrees by the roadway,
As the sun goes down outback
I lay at rest in peaceful reverie,
Then I thought of all the songs I'd sung
About the outback track,
And that is how this vision came to me."

SLIM, DUSTY - Along the Road of Song, Songwriters: Slim Dusty, A Cormack

"It is not in our cities or townships, it is not in our agricultural or mining areas, that the Australian attains full consciousness of his own nationality; it is in places like this, and as clearly here as at the centre of the continent. To me the monotonous variety of this interminable scrub has a charm of its own; so grave, subdued, self centred; so alien to the genial appeal of more winsome landscape, or the assertive grandeur of mountain and gorge. "

JOSEPH, FURPHY - Tom Collins, Such is Life

"I'm the tree you are me
with the land and the sea
we are one life not three
in the essence of life
we are one."

KEVIN, GILBERT - Unity, Black from the Edge

"It is the helplessness of little women that makes them appear 'all right' in the eyes of bushmen, helplessness being foreign to snorters."

JEANNIE AENEAS, GUNN - We of the Never-Never

"There's time enough for everything in the Never-Never."

JEANNIE AENEAS, GUNN - We of the Never-Never

"Neither a cabbage nor a woman for five years! Think of it, townsfolk! Neither a cabbage nor a woman - with the cabbage placed first."

JEANNIE AENEAS, GUNN - We of the Never-Never

"The bush can be cruel at times, and yet, although she may leave us alone with our beloved dead, her very cruelty brings with it a fierce, consoling pain; for out bush our dead are all our own."

JEANNIE AENEAS, GUNN - We of the Never-Never

" is the only animal that strikes his women-folk."

JEANNIE AENEAS, GUNN - We of the Never-Never

"Called the Never-Never, the Maluka loved to say, because they who have lived in it and loved it, Never-Never voluntarily leave it... Others, the unfitted, will tell you that it is so called because they who succeed in getting out or it swear they will Never-Never return to it. But we who have lived it, and loved it, and left it, know that our hearts can Never-Never rest away from it."

JEANNIE AENEAS, GUNN - We of the Never-Never

"You always want to garnish it when it's orf."

WILLIAM EDWARD , HARNEY - advice on bush cooking

"People say to us how brave we are, fighting the wilderness, braving the isolation of the Outback. But these are easy opponents, compared with drought. To watch your land shrivel and die, year in and year out, to see beautiful fields turn to dust bowls, to watch your animals starve and die. To suffer all this, only to be then washed away in a flood, your home and your family treasures lost and destroyed. And then to pick up the pieces and start again. The farmers of the South are brave! "

SARA, HENDERSON - From Strength to Strength

"Great Southern Land, in the sleeping sun
you walk alone with the ghost of time
they burned you black, black against the ground
and they make it work with rocks and sand"

ICEHOUSE, ICEHOUSE - Great Southern Land, songwriter Iva Davies

"I'll tell you where the dead heart of Australia is. It's right back there in the cities. Not out in the sand and the mulga and the stones burning hot under the sun."


"We're all members of the outback club
We don't back down and we don't give up
We're all living in a land we love"

LEE, KERNAGHAN - The Outback Club

"As I travel around the country I am seeing something new emerging across regional Australia. It is a new way of doing things, taking the great traditions that made the bush what it is today and blending it with the new. There's innovation, new technology and new potential, it's almost as if there's a quiet revolution going on?some people call it the new bush."


"It brought me a new understanding of how, unless you're connected with the land, you're not really connected with yourself or the nation. And Australians, I think, are slowly beginning to realise that the land owns us, we don't own the land. It's taken climate change to achieve that. And you get this sense of forces which are outside your control."

JOAN, KIRNER - on the immensity of outback Australia

"And the sun sank again on the grand Australian bush - the nurse and tutor of eccentric minds, the home of the weird, and of much that is different from things in other lands."


"I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror - the wide brown land for me!"


"And when people ask me why I wasted my youth... in the vast Australian outback, all I can say is that my youth was not wasted."

IAN, PARKES - A Youth Not Wasted

"People who truly live in the outback listen to it. What they hear I do not know...What the country says is beyond words."

IAN, PARKES - A Youth Not Wasted

"How can mere red dirt and stones and scrubby trees and shrubs and rises and falls in the land and haze and a vast blue sky be so potent? Such was it's power, even in the intense heat, even at night - sometimes, especially at night - the landscape seized you."

IAN, PARKES - A Youth Not Wasted

"But it was in Australia that I gained my first impressions of the beauty of the world, and it was the Bush that taught me. "


"The blossoming of the waratah, the song of the lyrebird, typify the spirit of primitive loveliness in our continent; but the wail of the dingo, the gauntness of our tall trees by silent moonlight, can provide a shiver of terror to a newcomer. Against background strangeness, of strange beasts and birds and plants, in a human emptiness of three million square miles... A new nation, a new human type, is being formed in Australia."


"I sit here in the upper circle surrounded by copper and gold, and smile with joy under my fly net as all the light, glory and quivering brightness passes slowly and freely before my eyes. Nothing happier than this. I shout and laugh at my immense wealth, all free and without responsibility. Who could steal this from me? No one. Oh that I could roll some up - as at present."


"To spend time alone in the Australian bush is to experience our union with nature. It is powerfully reassuring."


"The outback is four-fifths of the continent. It's at the heart of our ethos... it is omnipresent."


"Take red. Much of the continent is red: red rocks, red soil, red dust, the Red Centre. But long before you reach the dry inland, or the Kimberley, there is red in the forests and woodlands. It is the inside colour of the bush. The ‘gum’ of gum trees is generally red. The coppery-red gimlets (Eucalyptus salubris) of Western Australia and many other species ooze red gum as if from stigmata. Sometimes when you split stringybark it pours out like blood from a severed artery. It was for this gum that the first Europeans to see them call them gum trees."

DON, WATSON - The Bush

"For Hindus, banyan trees are sacred. For Buddhists, bodhi trees; for the Arabs, certain date palms. To be stalwart in a ‘tree-like’ way was to approach goodness, according to Confucius. The Normans built chapels in the trunks of yew trees. Many other cultures attached religious significance to particular trees and groves and forests. Adonis was born of a tree. Daphne turned into one. George Washington confessed to cutting one down and the United States, as a result, was all but immaculately conceived. "

DON, WATSON - The Bush

"The tree is the symbol of the male organ and of the female body. The Hebrew kabbalah depicts Creation in the form of a tree. In Genesis, a tree holds the key to immortal life, and it is to the branches and fruit of an olive tree that God’s people are likened in both the Old and New Testaments. To celebrate the birth of Christ his followers place trees in their sitting rooms and palm fronds, a symbol of victory, commemorate his entering Jerusalem. A child noted by Freud had fantasies of wounding a tree that represented his mother. The immortal swagman of Australia sat beneath a coolabah tree. In hundreds of Australian towns the war dead are honoured by avenues of trees."

DON, WATSON - The Bush

"Australians were struggling to define themselves out of a new space, the vastness of a strange country. They wanted to establish a real, unique Australia in the bush. The heroes went to the bush to start a new life. The land exists as a challenge to survival, for adventure and pioneering. "