Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Hawkes : the legend begins

Long hours spent droving and mustering have given Hawkes plenty of time and material for the lyrics of his songs

Story: Sally Cripps
Photographs: John Elliot

ImageThe art of spinning a yarn has been part of Australian outback culture since the first Irishman strode into the desert and lived to tell about it.

From Banjo Paterson to Slim Dusty, Australians hold a special regard for those who have crafted legends from everyday deeds.

We especially like the larrikin who gives anything a go - the swaggie, the Man from Snowy River and Captain Starlight are a few legends.

One modern-day wordsmith carrying on the tradition is John Hawkes, a contract musterer from Yaraka in western Queensland, who could have stepped out of the song Where the Country Is by country music star Lee Kernaghan.

Now thanks to Lee, John Hawkes is likely to become much better known around Australia in the near future.

Hawkes, as his friends call him, is a 35 year-old, larger-than-life character who has lived every line of the songs he has written.

Hawkes has written droving songs, trucking songs and even an ode to his dog.

Anyone who has ever been to a Bachelors and Spinster's ball will relate to Hawkes' version of this nightly revelry, simply titled Yaraka B&S.

Part of it goes like this:

Ballgowns and dinner suits, sheilas getting haircuts,
Black tie and riding boots, some blokes are taking shortcuts
Swags unrolled in the back of utes, if you drive home you're nuts
Will the band be alright, that's anybody's guess
As long as the bastards play all night, at the Yaraka B&S
Story end

Full story: Issue 3, February-March 1999

Go to:


Subscribe today

Subscribe now and receive each bi-monthly issue for only $45 mailed to any address in Australia. Overseas rates at Subscription Centre. OUTBACK has been Australia's fastest-growing magazine for the past two years in a row.

R.M. Williams Summer 2004/5 Catalogue

Visit rmwilliams.com.au for R.M.Willams history, news and the on-line product catalogue