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
  • select the Browse alphabetically tab
  • choose subjects from the drop-down list  
  • Type your keywords in the search bar
Or choose author from the drop-down lists, to find works by poets, e.g.
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 Archive. The 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.