Showtime for Bob

Bush Poet Bob prepares to debut his new poem about the Rockhampton show at the shows 150th celebration. The Show 14-16 June.

A lifetime of going to the Rockhampton Show has prepared Bush Poet Robert “Bob” Pacey for a very special job as part of this year’s 150-year celebration of the event.

Bob, whose family settled in the region generations ago, has been hard at work researching all the relevant dates of the Show after being asked to write and recite a poem marking the event.

“I’ve won quite a few awards for my poetry and actually took out the Brisbane Exhibition Online Poets competition for the past two years, which is for people who can’t make it down to the Ekka, they allow you to enter online,” he said.

“You video yourself and you send it in and they judge it just like a performance.”

Bob said bush poetry is in his blood.

“My aunty Pat Little nee Pacey was a well-known poet in the Rockhampton area and I sort of got a bit closer to her after my father died. She said you should really get into poetry because apparently my mother use to write a bit of poetry, I didn’t know a lot about my mum because she passed away when I was 16 so I didn’t have a lot of history there. My grandmother used to write limericks and enter them in competition at the local bakery and she used to win prizes. So, my aunt said I should have a go at writing.

“I started then and I found people liked to listen to the stories and I use to recite a few of the regular ones like the Man from Snow River and the Man From Ironbark and I started to write a few of my own and they’ve been well received.”

Bob believes bush poetry is a wonderful way of communicating that’s uniquely Australian.

“Of course, there are a lot of other rhyming poetry genres out there but Australian bush poetry tells a story and that’s how most people passed on the stories and the history, particularly of the outback,” he said.

“That’s why you’ve got such things as the Man from Snowy River, the Man From Iron Bark and Clancy of the Overflow. Those days they wrote about such things, these days I’m a member of the Australian Bush Poets Association, our charter says we can write about Australians and Australia’s way of life so it’s pretty open slather so we can get away with just about anything.”

And in Bob’s case “anything” currently means the 150th running of the Rockhampton Show.

“I was asked about two or three weeks ago so I said I’d better start doing a little bit of research,” he explained.

“I found there isn’t a lot online but they did send me an old article, I think it was from Trove, from the Morning Bulletin, it’s got a little bit of stuff there. It says Rockhampton Show was held on 26-17 May 1872 on the land bounded by William, George, Denham and Murray Streets. If you think about that, that’s where the coloured Fountain is today and when the show moved out the current location at Wondal that site was taken over by the old Central Boys State School which was there for many years until it closed down and they turned it in to a park – one of the most popular parks in Rocky. They tell me that they’re revamping it and rejuvenate the fountain.”

Bob said he was sixth generation Australian with his great, great, great grandfather coming to the region with the Archer brothers who were the original founders of Rockhampton.

“The family has been here for generations, 1856. I think I’ve been to nearly every Rocky show since I was bigger enough to go.

“Even in the old days we used to get dropped out there as kids and we’d spend the whole day at the show, if we ran out of money we’d go around and collect bottles and cash them and get enough money to buy some popcorn or a showbag. We stayed out there for the whole day.

“I have a lot of memories – those that I can remember, I’m getting on a bit now,” he laughed.

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