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To the West, To the West, to the land of the lag
Where the broad arrow floats on the national flag;
Where a man is a man if he only won't lie,
Where promoters are booming and not a bit shy;
Where the prospector swears with no sign of a smile
That the width of a the reef is exactly a mile;
And though 'tis the owner who says it as shouldn't,
That the gold in the reef is like plums in a puddin'
To the West, to the West, where the mining expert
Is never once seen with a barmaid to flirt;
To successfully flirt with a barmaid so fine,
Only those who are skilful in lying can shine.
Yet the mining expert can tell to the grain
How much gold to the ton the reef will contain:
And merely by taking a casual peep
How much gold's in the reef a thousand feet deep.
To the West, to the West, to the land of bright gold,
Where the man who buys shares is never once sold;
Where the bland mining boss with the truth in his eye
Talks of lenses and winzes and shafts deep and dry.
How the reef underlies with a southerly dip -
An infallible sign of a rise in the scrip:
And the footwall, says he, which is just a bit bent,
Shows the shares will go up a good hundred per cent.
To the West, to the West, where there's plenty of fun,
Where the quartz fifty hundredweight goes to the ton;
Where the average is fully ten ounces or more,
Making shareholders dream of the bright golden shore;
And promoters they whisper "Now ain't we just smart
To collar in this world a big golden harp?
With the truthful prospectus we'll grab the bright gold,"
But the man who buys shares never dreams that he's sold.
I love this one from the Big Book of Australian Folk Songs. Ron Edwards published it with this note:
TO THE WEST came to me form West Australian author Ted Mayman on 28 November 1970. He had found it in the Coolgardie Miner for 1 January 1896, and it was noted as having already appeared in the Adelaide Observer. Below the ballad was the name John Richards, but it is not clear whether this is the author or only the person who contributed it to the paper.
The illustration to this post is a photograph by John Joseph Dwyer entitled A prospector and his horse in camp, c 1905.
Bloggers note: The style of performance of this track reflects my slow recovery from a chest infection, rather than solely artistic judgement (but I'm still quite fond of the result).