Southerly Buster

February 12, 2011


Apparently it is tradition when Native Australians (Aborigines) greet each other to ask not where they work and what they do, but “what is your river?” and “what is your wind?”.  As a Sydney-sider, the latter question is easy to answer – The Southerly Buster.

The Southerly, as is it also known, is not unique to Sydney, however, in Summer when it rolls in after a hot day, it is the most welcome event one can hope for.  My friend Gavin recently brought this poem by his mother to my attention.  They have graciously allowed me to republish it.

“Southerly Buster”

by Lilian May Donald

The leaves stand stiff and dry,
Or folded in sad, scorched rolls against the heat.
The west wind’s searing breath
Devours all air and moisture, which are life.
Then the wind rests,
Leaving the world sucked dry.
The sky looms grey, and steel-grey lies the lake.
The stricken world scarce breathes, fighting for life.

Then on the far grey water falls a shade –
A swift on-rushing shade with fringe of spray,
Driven by a crescendo blast of wind –
The trumpets of an army come to save!

The cold wind rushes onward from the south,
On in tumultuous haste across the sea,
A messenger from far Antarctic floes;
Born where the icy blizzards sweep the snow,
Roaring in deep crevasse, o’er desolate waste,
Gathering moist ocean air upon its wings.

Swift flies the water, darker glooms the cloud.
The valiant gums bend low in gratitude.
Then a strong army marches in swift advance
On far-off headland, over the wild dark lake,
Its close ranks tramping down the racing waves –
The million marching footsteps of the rain.

(Lilian MayDonald 1914 – 2005, Published with the permission of the Donald Family.)

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About Justin Moss

An information and engineering technologist. Unabashedly opinionated, open-minded and an oft overthinker. Born Sydney Australia, home of the 'Southerly Buster'

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