The Plight of the Mighty Hawkesbury River

A poem about a mighty River called the Hawkesbury that defines the northern boundary of the sprawling metropolis of Sydney, Australia.


photo- Sunset on the Hawkesbury. Image from


The Plight of the Mighty Hawkesbury River

Copyright Des Pensable 2015

I was born near a mighty river, a panorama of life, strength and awe.

Flowing majestically through time, Nature’s powerhouse and nursery

for yabbies and mussels, eels and fish, shags and pelicans galore.

In the dawn it was a sleepy golden serpent stretched across the land.

At midday, a busy highway for a myriad of small craft weaving white wakes.

In the evenings, a dark and mysterious, sinuous, silver moonlit brand.

My earliest memories were of excitement, laughter, joy and fun,

of diving and swimming, canoeing and fishing, in the cool swirling eddies

of that generous host of small green islands basking lazily in the sun.

Later in my youth I took my first love up to the birthplace of the stream.

We picnicked and skinny dipped, laughed and made love on the bank.

Its essence was fresh and healthy; my memories, a beautiful dream.

I ventured to Sydney to find work; we needed money they said to live.

An eternal rat race, a soul sapping drab endless fight for a gulp of fresh air,

I yearned for the inner peace that only my beautiful river could give.

I journeyed back in time to where my memories happily lived as a child,

to replenish that spirit of life that nature’s magic wand freely recharges.

What I saw shocked me to the core and left my mind uneasy and wild.

Oh my Hawkesbury! What have they done to your majestic metallic sheen?

You lay there ill and bloated with effluent from the city’s bowels and sewers,

tainted with slime and weed; pitiful, ailing and weak; now fetid and green.

We were charged to share; to be stewards and protectors of the land’s health.

Why do we toil for idiot goals, value printed paper, call companies people?

Why do we loot, pollute and scoot from our responsibilities for illusory wealth?

Why do we hide behind locked doors, mindlessly ignoring the growing blight?

It’s time to escape, to grow up, to renew our timeless contract with Nature.

It’s time to transform from zombie barbarians to caring eco warriors with might.

It’s time to balance the books with the land; the Hawkesbury’s not a drain!

It’s time to say no to profit before Nature and only the bottom line counts.

Let’s unite and fight to fix the Hawkesbury so it’s healthy and proud again.


photo courtesy of the NSW Dept Natural Resources

Check out more on the Hawkesbury river story below.

The Australian Traveller – The Hawkesbury 

Everything commercial you wanted to know

Using the River as a toilet

What the local government is saying it’s doing

How You Can Help

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Des Pensable

Des is a native of Sydney where he currently lives with his partner Joanne. He has a PhD in neuroscience and worked as a biomedical scientist where he published widely in several areas of science. Since retiring, he’s been a keen writer of poetry, stories and philosophy which appear on his web, blog site and on line literary publications. He is also a performance poet that appears regularly in venues around Sydney.

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