2014 Benalla Muster

October 15th, 2014 | 'Banjo' Paterson, C. J. Dennis, Festivals, Henry Lawson, Poems for adults, Poems for children, Songs, Stories for adults

Last weekend the Victorian Bush Poets and Music Association held its annual Muster at the Benalla Bowls Club. I attended with my dear friend Maggie Somerville, and we had a wonderful time.

The event is a little smaller and less formal than it once was, when the event also hosted the Australian Bush Poetry Association Victorian Championships. There is still some fierce competition in various categories, though (notably the two song competitions – Original and Non Original – and the Novice Poetry competition). There is plenty of scope also for the enjoyment of poetry and song in a relaxed, non-competitive environment.

The highlight of the weekend for me was…drumroll, please…Maggie Somerville’s win in the Original Song competition, with her beautiful song “Waratah Bay”. She absolutely nailed it with her performance, and the icing on the cake was her whistling, which everybody seemed to love. (“Waratah Bay”, for those who don’t know, is a lovely long stretch of untouched beach in South Gippsland, near Wilsons Promontory. Maggie has been visiting there on her holidays for many years.)

Here she is with her trophy in her hands.

Original song presentation

Maggie also came second to Ken Prato in the Novice Poetry with her poem, “Mozzed”, inspired by my book, “‘The Billy That Died With Its Boots On’ and Other Australian Verse”.

Novice poetry presentation

The weekend, as always, was a wonderful chance to catch up with many like-minded souls, and celebrate together our love of spoken word and music. We also celebrate, of course, our love of Australia and its history.

The weather was warm and sunny all weekend, and Maggie and I found time to visit the curious but extraordinary sculpture (what should it be called?) that sits on the northern bank of the Broken River, between the bridge and the museum.

The sculpture

The only chance to perform outside in the glorious weather came at the war tribute beside the statue of “Weary” Dunlop in the gardens.

War tribute

All in all, I had a wonderful weekend, meeting old friends, and making new ones. I even sold a few books!

Thanks to Jan Lewis and her army of volunteers for making it happen once again.