The Full Transcript of Ben Lawson’s Inspiring Expat Bushfire Poem

Australian actor Ben Lawson may be making it big in Hollywood, most recently with a role in Bombshell, however, the former Neighbours star hasn’t forgotten about his home.

Taking to Instagram on the weekend, Lawson shared a raw and emotional six-minute poem he had written — an ode to “my country from an expat”.

The post, which has now gone viral, gives a harrowing look at the Australian bushfire crisis through the lens of an Aussie who lives far from home, but at its core, it’s simply the way we’re all feeling at this time.

“[This is about] what I saw when I opened up the morning news. My heart stopped for a second and my throat became too tight, her name was in the headlines, she didn’t look alright,” he says.

Throughout the reading, Lawson chokes up on his own words, and it’s here that we realise, that no matter how impressive his acting resume has become, he is and always will be, Australian.

For the full transcript of Lawson’s poem, see below, however, we urge you to watch the video first with the sound on.


The place I’m from is far away
She’s wide and flat and brown
When looking at a globe she’s just
The one Under and Down

She raised me up and taught me almost
Everything I know
Like how to live and love and shaped
The way I learned to grow

And though I had no say in where
My folks chose to reside
I always sort of had a sense
Of patriotic pride

I’d always felt connected from
A space somewhere within
See that’s the thing about this place
She gets under your skin

So when the time had come after
Two decades and a half
To go and see the world she didn’t
Scoff, she didn’t laugh

She understood I had so much
I needed to explore
And that I would return, for she
Had seen my kind before

And thus I ventured out and joined
An ignominious posse
Of dreamers living far from home:
Expatriated Aussies

The streets of Brooklyn, London’s Eye,
An Indonesian Sizzler
Cafes in Paris, Clubs in Rome
Or every shop in Whistler

You hear our voices far and wide
Like members of a club
Fanning out across the world
Quite often in a pub

We smile when people mimic us
Quote Crocodile Dundee
To them we sound absurd. I guess,
We do to a degree

They talk about the snakes and sharks
As if it’s some big fuss
“I couldn’t live down there”! they say
We say that’s fine by us

Somehow the months turn into several
Trips around the sun
Yet that tie to the motherland’s
As strong as on day one

Regardless though, how far away
I happen to have wandered
I’ll always check to see who won
The Hottest of the Hundred

I’ll somehow find a pub to watch
The granny on the tele
And four days before Christmas I will
Always play Paul Kelly

It really doesn’t matter just
How far or wide I roam
The Boy From Oz was right I guess
It’s never not your home

And when I cross another Aussie
Traveling a while
We’ll nod and say g’day and then
We’ll share a knowing smile

You see we know it matters really
Not that much at all
If England takes The Ashes home
Or World Cup hopes are small

Perhaps we won’t get quite as many
Medals as the Yanks
At Wimbledon we might not have
A top ten in the ranks

Cuz we’ve still got the greatest gift
A wonder all its own
A paradise of sand and sun
We get to call our home

I think about her often and
That feeling comes along
That warm familiar pride that tells me
She’s where I belong

…And Crowded House comes on in some
Strange far flung foreign bar
My eyes sting for a moment. Man,
Sometimes I do feel far.

The purpose of these verses though
Is not to hear me muse
It’s what I saw this morning when
I opened up the news

My heart stopped for a second and
My throat became too tight
Her name was in the headlines and
She didn’t look alright

I had to sit, I couldn’t quite
Believe my own two eyes
She looked unrecognizable
I’d never seen those skies

That’s not the place I grew up in
That’s not what I remember
Bushfires never started up so
Early as September

It’s much too much to fathom that
Your homeland has succumbed
To such a horror. And they say
The worst is yet to come

I stare as they evacuate
And watch as children choke
Our New Zealander neighbours now
Are coughing on our smoke

I’m looking at a mile of fencing
Lined with blackened shapes
Koalas, possums, kangaroos
With no chance of escape

So far we’ve burned about three times
The land as the Brazillians
And as for all those animals
We’re up to half a billion

Don’t be afraid, they tell me, of
A little Aussie coal
This stuff is worth a fortune, it’s
Like carbonized black gold!

So what if it’s not great in an
Environmental sense
Just think of the economy
Don’t focus on science

Now’s not the time to talk about
Our planet getting hotter
Or fire seasons lengthening
Or folks who don’t have water

It’s sad we’ve lost some good people
A firey or three
At least they all died knowing we’ve
A healthy GDP

I mustered that old Aussie pride
But to my disbelief
Discovered only anger there
And overwhelming grief

We say we love our country but
That leaves a bitter taste
Our apathy to climate change
Should make us feel disgraced

We’re so concerned with digging up
That black stuff from the ground
Myself I’d rather half a
Billion animals around

But then I see those photos of
Dark figures in the fray
The tiny silhouettes struggling
To keep the flames at bay

I read about the volunteers
Who stepped up to the tragedy
And spent their Christmas in the blaze
Instead of with their family

I read in awe about our fearless
Firefighting crews
Who could give up at any time
They want, but they refuse

Men and women out there in
The midst of devastation
Upon their yellow jackets pinned
The prayers of a nation

I watch as ordinary Aussies
Rise to the occasion
Feeding precious animals half
Dead from dehydration

They’re sending in their clothes and food
To those who’ve lost it all
The kids are even raising cash
With cupcakes at a stall

And suddenly I get the pang
Of something deep inside
The one that starts down in my gut
And rises like a tide

The same one that runs through me
Putting fire in my veins
It now glows deep within and so much
Brighter than those flames

And though I’m far away from her
Right now when she is ailing
I know I’ve never been so proud
To call myself Australian

How You Can Help

If you can, please consider donating to one of the organisations below — your donation will directly benefit bushfire victims, communities and animals affected.

Donate to the NSW Rural Fire Service
Donate to the Victorian Bushfire Relief
Donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund
Donate to the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal
Donate to St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal
Donate to WIRES