Carol Heuchan wins Australian Bush Poets Association national competition for poems about the first Australian Holden, the 48-215

INSPIRATION: Poets were invited to contribute works about Australia's first Holden, the 48-215. Picture: Supplied
INSPIRATION: Poets were invited to contribute works about Australia's first Holden, the 48-215. Picture: Supplied

COORANBONG poet Carol Heuchan has channelled her inner ocker bloke to win a national competition for poems about Australia's first Holden car.

The competition, conducted by the Australian Bush Poets Association, challenged poets to write a poem about the first ever Holden, the 48-215.

"They had a photo of it on the cover of the magazine and, much as I don't compete any more, I couldn't resist," Heuchan said.

Poems were judged in Australian Idol style - that is, the identity of each poet was hidden from the judges. So that gave Carol the chance to take some, err, poetic licence.

"The poems were judged anonymously, so I figured it was fair enough to get into 'Aussie bloke mode' and give it a go," Heuchan said.

The result was an hommage to the classic Holden, and drives spent "cruisin' chicks" and having "the carton on the seat".

Bench seats and round the corners, your girl'd slide right over / and your heart is running faster than a bloody Hawthorne rover.

Heuchan was rapt to win - especially given that she doesn't officially 'compete' any more.

"I donated the money back to the association for advertising costs for a new written competition run by my favourite Aussie festival, The King of the Ranges, at Murrurundi," she said.

Carol Heuchan, of Cooranbong. Picture: Supplied

Carol Heuchan, of Cooranbong. Picture: Supplied

It was 16 years ago when she was starting to retire from elite-level equestrian competition when Heuchan "accidentally" discovered her talent for bush poetry.

In 2004, she won the richest prize in poetry history - a $34,000 tractor - and she twice became Australian champion bush poet.

She then moved into the professional ranks and earned nine Laureate Awards for her books and CDs. Her new double-CD, Both Sides of Carol Heuchan, a mix of American cowboy and Australian bush poetry, will be released in time for Christmas.

Heuchan starred in the ABC television series Bush Slam with host H G Nelson, and was a member of the winning team in the World Poetry Debate at the National Folk Festival, in Canberra, in 2006.

And she has since toured interstate and internationally as a performer, MC, and poetry judge.

She's lost count of the competitions and awards that she's won.

"I'm afraid I couldn't say exactly how many competitions I won in the years when I was competing but with written and performance comps it includes nine Laureate Awards (the Golden Guitars of bush poetry) and twice Australian performance champion and, I guess, hundreds of other awards in the early years before turning professional," she said.

The winning poem

The 48-215 by Carol Heuchan

It's standing right outside my house. Just like it's yesterday. / And all the years and all the tears have faded clean away, / and I am young and bullet-proof and this is not a dream! / She's standing there - a vision - wrapped in shiny Gawler Cream.

Four door sedan, front engine and three speed column shift. / Six seater. Couldn't beat 'er - cruisin' chicks. You get my drift? / Bench seats and round the corners, your girl'd slide right over / and your heart is running faster than a bloody Hawthorne rover.

No heating or demisting - well, what are windows for? / Extras - spats and rubber mats; a dipper on the floor. / Red leather seats and door trim and a rear venetian blind. / No side mirrors (and no seat belts) just one tail light, right behind.

We had good ways, back in those days. That car was really neat. / It didn't say to 'Buckle up!' the carton on the seat. / You would drive with one arm hanging out and one arm 'round your sheila. / You knew you had 'er in that car. No-one 'd ever steal 'er.

Now, first gear had no synchro, so if signs said stop, you'd STOP / to avoid a chance encounter with a sneaky bloody cop. / No lights to flash, no blinkers - your arm would show 'em how. / Straight meant right and bent meant stop and a finger? Same as now.

The horn was half a chrome ring. You could beep with just your thumb. / Designed to have you looking cool. That Holden mob weren't dumb. / The window winders really worked. No modern ones for me - / you press and press and cannot guess wherever it will be.

The air scoop was adjustable. She'd a wind off petrol cap / and a gathered leather pocket where you always kept your map. / The little flipper windows were as practical as hell. / The cool air came in quickly and they saved you juice as well.

When you opened up the boot, the spare was standing up saluting / in the wheel well over on the side. How's that for high falutin'? / Mum's tartan picnic blanket went wherever I would go. / I always kept it in the boot. Well, you know, you never know....

She had lever-action shockies and from the front suspension. / Six cylinder, sixty horse power and real leather, did I mention / She was sleek and cool and classy and oh boy, did she have power!? / Down the Bulli Pass once, we made sixty miles an hour!!

The windscreen was divided. Wipers slowed down up a hill. / Handbrake pulled out from the dash. Oh heck, I see her still. / On the shelf behind the back seat, the nodding doggy sat / and flyin' from the aerial, half a Davy Crockett hat.

Elbow out the window, Hank Williams on the air, / pedal to metal and the world just wasn't there. / So raise your glasses, drink a toast, the best car you could drive - / the Aussie bloody Holden, the Four Eight Two One Five.

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