Almanac Poetry: She Oaks, Victoria


She Oaks, Victoria


In an early family album,

there’s a black-and-white Box Brownie photo,

overexposed, so its subjects

are bathed in hazy light:

me, aged seven, in a football jumper,

my blonde five-year-old sister,

Mum still in her twenties.

(Dad took this picture.)

We are posed near a sleek Vauxhall Velox,

our family car,

in a bush setting, She Oaks,

a place we used to drive

for Sunday picnics in summer.

I’ve always loved

this locality on a gravel road,

for its creek, gnarled trees,

sunlight, shade,

dust and dappled beauty.






You can access more of Kevin Densley’s poems here.




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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, will be published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. Evocative.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, JTH! They were great days.

  3. My dear Mum had a Box Brownie, my late Uncle Harry had a Velox, the almost sepia qualities of the photograph are indeed, as JTH says, ‘evocative’. (Perfect word choice as usual, JTH.) I wonder where all of those photos from the 50s and 60s went?

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your comments, Ian. Yes, those Box Brownies took great photographs. I’m fortunate that I have many old family photos; in fact, I’ve made a particular point of keeping them.

  5. Love the faded-in edges to the photo. I guess there is a Mac app for that today. Desiccated fragments in the seeds of memory. If only we could add a little water and be reborn to those times, places and people. Thanks Kevin.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the comments/sentiments, Peter. Yes, the photo looks so atmospheric, doesn’t it? It’s exactly how it came back to us from the whoever developed it about fifty years ago. I was careful to do nothing whatsoever to it!

  7. I love a poem like yours Kevin in which a single image drives the language.

    The title intrigues me for here in South Australia near where I grew up is a town called Shea-Oak Log and the spelling of it has been problematic for years. I think the hyphen has been tricky! Black and white photos are like vinyl records and small glasses of beer- emblematic of distant times and a joy to be nodded at with old friends and family.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you for your words concerning my poem, Mickey – yes, one kind of poem I write is that which is driven by a particular image, whether it be by a photo or artwork. I find it can be a good way of channelling one’s ideas and keeping a clear focus.

    Regarding the spelling of She Oaks in Victoria … officially it’s two words without the hypen. I double-checked this, though this locality is often spelt with a hyphen or as one word, Sheoaks. This She Oaks is near Geelong, though off the beaten track a bit, in the vicinity of the ghost town of Steiglitz, where a gold rush occurred in the 1850s and had fizzled out by the 1870s.

    Finally, in relation to your Shea-Oak Log (which appears to be the correct way to spell this one, I agree), it has a clear family connection for me, as my great-great grandfather’s family lived in the area in the 1850s and 1860s (surname Reynolds) and at least one of his siblings is registered as being born in Shea-Oak Log.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic poem Kevin, and even better photo!

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    She Oaks is a place I’d not heard of by the way.

  11. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Luke! Thanks! There’s certainly some beautiful countryside in the She Oaks, Steiglitz area.

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