Finding poetry: State Library of Victoria - Find poetry and verse in the State Library of Victoria and online

Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards - Website of the Australian poetry competition for school children


The Australian Poetry Library is a website which contains over 42,000 poems, representing the work of more than 170 Australian poets.

Many poets such as Les Murray have websites. Search for the names of the poets you are interested in.

Cordite Poetry Review is an online poetry journal published three times a year, and dedicated to showing off new and established Australian poets to the world. 

Project Gutenberg Australia has many out-of-copyright poems by poets such as "Banjo" Paterson and Henry Lawson

Fairfax Corporation, Banjo Paterson and Hunter White leaning on a railing, New South Wales, ca. 1930, nla.obj-162398614  

How do you find Australian poetry?

Start with the Library Catalogue

  • choose subject from the drop-down list  
  • Type your keywords [for example 'Australian poetry'] in the search bar
Or choose author from the drop-down list, to find works by poets, e.g. Les Murray or Rosemary Dobson.
A general search for Australian poetry, limiting results to 'journal' will give several starting points, particularly for modern poetry. 
Selected works: 
  • Australian Poets & their Works: A Reader's Guide (1996) by William Wilde. An alphabetical listing of poets, collections of verse, famous poems, folk songs, prizes, journals, and anthologies, covering all the major Australian poets from the nineteenth century to the 1990s
  • The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse (1996), chosen by Les A. Murray. A collection of Australian poems chosen to reflect the poetic tradition from the early days of European settlement to the present day.

Where can you find poetry in our online databases?

AustLit: the resource for Australian literature is a key resource for information about Australian writers and writing covering the 1780s to the present.

With an author search, you can find lists of publications, collections of poetry, criticisms, links to online access for selected poems, awards lists and biographies of major poets.

You can find AustLit by visiting our eResources portal and searching for this database under the Browse eResources tab. If you are a registered member of the National Library you can access AustLit from home.

Case Study

Australian ballads

I am a Year 8 student and I have to recite an Australian ballad. Do you have any suggestions? I live in Queensland, and can't come to the Library in Canberra.

A ballad is a simple poem that tells a story. There is usually some repetition, for example, a line or phrase might be repeated.  

1. Starting with the National Library Catalogue, we can search for 'Australian Ballads' or 'Australian Folk Poetry'. In order to find poetry online, we can limit the results to 'Online'.

2 .Listen for a Moment: A Small Book of Australian Ballads is by Tom Ford and can be read online through the Australian Web ArchiveThe Stockman (page 24), and Antarctic Fleet (page 30) are two ballads we might consider using.

3. Some more well-known Australian Ballads are available freely online, including Banjo Paterson works. The website Wallis and Matilda lists these, however most of them are very long. Been There Before might be suitable.

4. We can also look for poetry in AustLit via eResources. To find the full-text of poems, use the Advanced Search, and check the box: 'Full text available'. Type in the name of an author, such as Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson or CJ Dennis, or simply search for 'ballad'.  We can browse, using the left menu to limit our results, to find a suitable ballad. The blue arrow next to the title goes to the full text, when it is available online. 


Portrait of Tilly Aston

Portrait of Tilly Aston, between 1930 and 1947, Pictures Collection, nla.pic-an22354999

Maiden Verses, published in 1901, was the first book of poetry by Tilly Aston, a blind writer, teacher, and promoter of the rights of vision impaired people. More infromation about Tilly Aston can be found at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.


Modern Australian Poetry archived from includes introductions and links for poets and their works from the 1930s to 2008 and onwards. May contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased

Australian Bush Poetry, Verse and Music has lists of traditional Australian poets and their poetry. Full text poems are available.

Not sure where to start?