Cousin Jim with his book of bush animal rhymes.
Cousin Jim with his book of bush animal rhymes.

Journalist Jim Bowden tells the tales of a Country Life

MEMORIES of sloshing through snow and rain as a schoolboy in Scotland and riding a stockhorse in the middle of summer on rugged Glenhaughton Station at Taroom in central Queensland were two extremes that came quickly to mind for Jim Bowden when he was asked to recall some of the stories in Kiddies Korner, a column he wrote in the 1950s and early 1960s.

As a wet-behind-the ears Welsh-born cadet reporter at Queensland Country Life, Jim was given his first assignment in 1957 - reporting on livestock sales at Cannon Hill.

A year later, his editor made him a columnist - a lowly one perhaps, preparing short stories, puzzles and poems as Cousin Jim for a growing band of young readers all over country Queensland.

"This was just such a wonderful time," Jim said. "I made friends with scores of outback kids who wrote regularly. A published letter earned a five shillings postal order."

Jim still has most of those columns pasted in a frayed book of clippings that also contains a lot of articles he wrote over his 30 years with Country Life.

He went on to become chief of staff, production manager and associate editor at the paper, and in the 1980s established his own publishing and PR business. Still writing, Jim contributes regularly to Seniors Newspaper.

Now he is happy to have those animal verses he wrote every week published - Katie Kangaroo, Percy Platypus, Elmer Emu and Bertie Bandicoot among them.

Cousin Jim's Bush Rhymes for Younger Minds carries a unique message, in verse, to children about the values of good health, good behaviour, a good education, respect for family and elders and the under-privileged and those who may not have the same advantages as themselves.

These stories are told through the antics of a colourful collection of bush animals, wonderfully illustrated by Brisbane artist John Flitcroft.

Just recently, three bush baby boomers who wrote to Jim's column in 1958 recalled the enjoyment of reading the "weekly odes" when they were 9, 15 and 11 respectively - one a cattle producer west of Bowen, now 70, the others retired on the Sunshine Coast and in the NSW Northern Rivers. Each received a five shilling postal note for their letters.

The book is also unique in another respect - it includes an educational illustrated glossary of facts about the Australian bush creatures featured - their origins, habits and habitats.

The book will support the Royal Queensland Bush Children's Health Scheme (BUSHkids), a non-government, non-profit community organisation which offers a range of free allied health services to children and families living in rural Queensland.

Seniors Newspaper is giving away five copies of the book in the New Year, so look out for our competition.


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