Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bulls of the Speewah

Words: R C Pearce (Bob Bloodwood)
Tune: Unknown

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Oh all this talk of the Dawson scrub it fairly leaves me cold
For I tell you them bulls was dinkum cows in the Speewah days of old
More fiercer than the fiercest cat more cunning than the Blacks
I've known them tie branches to their tails to cover up their tracks

When leaving camp you must put out the fires you had last night
For them bulls carry firesticks in their teeth to set your yards alight
They have the bower-birds squared to bellow to put you off your course
They even have the dingoes trained to heel your bloody horse

I remember one day there was six of us to muster to Jackass yard
No finer stockmen in the land and used to riding hard
The boss was up on a raking bay called Casanover's Desire
And I kidded myself that I looked at home on a horse called Black Maria

We sighted a score or more of bulls contented as you please
Some was sharpening their horns on the sandstone rocks and some was skewering trees
Well we made them flaming cattle run as hard as they could lick
But every time I looked behind they seemed to be gaining quick

There was one roan bull about a yard behind bowled over my mare and me
So to to see if me comrades was alright I climbed the nearest tree
Well I'm up here and he's down there as if he'd like to stay
But seeing I've no further use for him I let him drift away

Then down I come and grab my mare (her feet's caught in the rein)
For I'm as keen as mustard now to help my mates again
They was heading straight for the Jackass yard it was clear the way they went
They'd torn big trees up by the roots and even the hills looked bent

When I come in sight of the that there yard I sat there goggle-eyed
For the bulls was camped outside the gate and the stockmen was inside
So when I hear talk of the Dawson days my mind goes back to when
Them wild bulls of the Speewah scrub used to muster up the men

Lyrics and notes from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Song site via Mudcat:

From the poem Bulls of Speewah by R.C.Pierce (Bob Bloodwood) This version as sung by A.L.Lloyd in a concert at the Singers Club in London 1973. Chris Kempster transcribed the tune for this collection from a tape recording made of the concert by Mark Gregory.

I've been unable to source the tune. The above note suggests that it was either collected or written by AL Lloyd.

RC Pearce published many poems in his Smoko Time column in the North Queensland Register.