One of the most colourful characters in the Tamar Valley is surely, Waldo Bayley, Better known as Waldo the Bush Poet!
A former Vietnam Veteran, having served 20 years in the Navy, Waldo Bayley has played deck hockey with King Charles of England, authored over 400 poems, written four books, recorded five albums and even made a cameo in an Australian movie!
Now based in George Town with wife of over 60 years, Sue, Waldo called Humpty Doo, Northern Territory home for 43 years and is a legend up there, with Darwin based radio stations still regularly calling him for a chat and a poem. Waldo held a weekly radio spot in N.T for 12 years.
‘We decided on a sea change to good ol’ Tassie land.’ Said Waldo
‘It was time for a cooler change.’
Originally from Bairnsdale, Victoria, Waldo served in the Navy for 20 years ago, meeting Sue in Sydney along the way before settling in Humpty Doo, Northern Territory ‘on 5 acres of hay, accompanied by four kids, six surfboards, a kombi van and a dream,’ said Waldo.
‘I started writing poetry on March 3, 1999,’ he said.
‘I had never written a poem before and failed English and geography, joined the Navy when I was told to… but my first poem was about Pauline Hanson.’
Poetry keeps his brain ticking, he said.
‘Sue tells me sometimes she’ll send me to the workshop to grab a spanner and I’ll forget … but I can always remember my poems.’
Even in a state of semi-retirement, Waldo isn’t prepared to hang up his pen or diminish his passion for the spoken word anytime soon. In a time of texting, social media and instant messaging, he said creativity was all the more important.
‘Bush poetry is a fading art in our country.’ Said Waldo.
‘When I was young there was no such thing as a selfie, you told your story through words, and for me it’s poetry.’
Ever the friendly and fascinating character, Waldo considers King Charles of England as a personal friend!
‘I used to play deck hockey with him when I was on the Royal Yacht Britannia,’ said Waldo.
When (then) Prince Charles visited Darwin in 2017, he noticed Waldo in the crowd.
‘He came over and saw me and my wife Sue, shook our hands, and had a quick catch up on the sidewalk.’
‘I told him I was writing poetry, and he told me I should publish — he was pretty shocked to learn I had three books and I gave him a copy and signed it right there and then.’
‘Prince Charles is a majestic person,’ said Waldo, ‘he would just listen to you,’ ‘he thanked me for the book and said he’d read it on the way back to England.’
‘Six weeks later we drove up to the post office; there it was with a Buckingham Palace stamp on it from Charles and his wife thanking us for a wonderful time in Darwin.’
‘He said you must keep writing!’
‘He’s doing a great job as King so far,’ said Waldo, adding ‘the day the new book arrived from the publishers, Charles became King! I’ll be sure to send him a copy soon.’
Waldo and Sue, who followed daughter Cherie and her family down to Tasmania are very much settled in the Tamar Valley now. ‘We are not moving,’ said Waldo, ‘We love it here.’
‘It’s a friendly town.’ added Sue.
Arriving on the first day of winter in 2019, they went from 34 degrees to cold, frosty mornings. Naturally a poem ensued:
‘We are both in our 70s and have decided to retire,
to a cottage down in George Town with a nice warm country fire.
Read a book, write a poem or stroll on the sand down by the sea,
we will reminisce together with our dogs, Sue and me.’
Within weeks of arriving in George Town, Waldo’s poems featured in a weekly radio program on Tamar FM. He has become a well-known personality in George Town, where most of the shops, cafes, hairdressers, and pubs have his poems displayed. Waldo makes a weekly visit to these venues to refresh the poems with relevant choices from his ever-growing catalogue.
Thanks to a friendly neighbour who happens to be an English teacher at a local primary school, Waldo has performed his bush poetry to school children in the George Town area and received a letter of thanks from those schools including poems written for him by many local school kids.
Still a regular on commercial and ABC radio shows in N.T and around Australia and now a regular on ABC Launceston with Belinda on her Friday morning breakfast show, Waldo often gives interviews from his George Town home including to the ridiculously popular ‘Australia All Over show’ with Macca, with approximately 3 million listeners each week, who still occasionally calls Waldo for a poem about any manner of topics.
Waldo’s passion for bush poetry crosses many boundaries. Covering a broad range of subjects from Tasmanian Wildlife to the Bombing of Darwin which was read out in Parliament House in Canberra.
Waldo won Bush poet of the year up in N.T. in 2001. He is passionate about the Australian military and service personal and has written poems about troops and police officers that have suffered adversity, he has read poetry in Parliament House in Darwin, performed at various festivals, has given countless interviews and has the newspaper cuttings to back it all up!
He is extremely humble about his achievement’s and just loves the art of bush poetry, often breaking into verse mid conversation and transporting you momentarily, to an era that you imagined Slim Dusty and R.M Williams belonged to!
He has letters personally written to him from all manner of dignitaries, a police minister, senior politicians, celebrities, and of course letters from the Prince of Wales, now King Charles the 3rd.
Waldo performs poetry for weddings, parties, festivals, markets, stage shows etc anyone interested in hiring Waldo’s services should contact his daughter and agent, Cherie on the email address below.
Waldo’s new book, Waldo’s Wild Things, is beautifully illustrated by Jan Gaebler McKay a well-known George Town artist. It features many poems about animals that readers both young and old will no doubt enjoy.
To purchase Waldo’s book (wholesale) for your shop, business, school or community group please contact Cherie Gardener at email@example.com or to purchase the book direct visit News Express in George Town.
If you see Waldo and Sue around town or about The Tamar, be sure to introduce yourself and say hello. A more engaging character you will struggle to meet this side of Humpty doo!