Thursday, March 31, 2011

Johnny Stewart, Drover



Chris Buch





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The mob is dipped, the drive is started out
They're leaving Rockland's dusty sheds behind them
The whips are cracking and the drovers shout
Along the Queensland stock-roads you will find them

Droving ways have been like this for years
No modern ways have meant their days are over
The diesel road trains cannot know the steers
Or walk them down like Johnny Stewart, drover

CHORUS
On the banks of the Georgina and down the Diamantina
To where the grass is greener, down by New South Wales
Johnny Stewart's roving with mobs of cattle droving
His life story moving down miles of dusty trails

The cook is busy by the campfire light
Above a fire a billy gently swinging
The mob is settled quietly for the night
And Johnny's riding softly around and singing

Johnny doesn't spend much time in town
Impatient for the wet to be over
Most of the year he's walking cattle down
The stock roads are home for Johnny Stewart, drover

CHORUS

Dawn will surely find another day
Sun still chasing moon, never caught her
The morning light will find them on their way
Another push to reach the next good water

CHORUS

They're counted in now, Johnny's work is done
And fifteen hundred head are handed over
It's into town now for a little fun
And a beer or two for Johnny Stewart, drover

CHORUS

Written by Chris Buch, founder of the Isa Folk Club in Mt Isa, Central Queensland. Johnny Stewart was a real drover who Chris met at the club. The writing of the song was subsidised by a decision of the first formal meeting of the Australian Folk Trust to give Chris a grant of $200 in 1978,

There's a great story about Chris and the song on the North West Star website.

I first heard this song sung by Jan Davis at the Brisbane sessions in the 1980s.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Whisper Low




Words: Will H Ogilvie
Tune: Unknown





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We have rowed together at even-fall
Down the creek in the sunset glow,
Under the vines and the box-trees tall
That fringe the shores.
Dip soft the oars
Dip soft the oars and whisper low.


We have ridden away in the golden noon
Over the range where the sandals grow,
To wander home by a summer moon
On silver plains.
Draw tight the reins!
Draw tight the reins and whisper low.

We have sat in the garden at close of day
Watching the light from the blossoms go.
And the darkling branches melt away
To Shadow Land.
Love, hold my hand
Love, hold my hand and whisper low.


And now we two, though the years have passed,
Live in the Love of long ago,
Love that endured, and Love that will last
As long as life.
Kiss me, my wife
Kiss me, my wife, and whisper low.


A setting of Ogilvie's poem from his 1906 collection, Fair Girls and Gray Horses. The tune comes from Songs of the Great Australian Balladists, an album by the Overlanders, preserved on the wonderful Australian Folk and Bush Music and Musicians website.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Euabalong Ball



Traditional.




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Oh who hasn't heard of Euabalong Ball
Where the lads of the Lachlan the great and the small
Come bent on diversion from far and from near
To shake off their troubles for just once a year

Like stringy old wethers the shearers in force
All rushed to the bar as a matter of course
While waltzing his cliner the manager cursed
For someone had caught him a jab with his spurs

There were cliners in plenty some two or three score
Some weaners some two-tooths and it maybe some more
With their fleeces all dipped and so fluffy and clean
The finest young shearlings that ever was seen

The boundary riders was frisking about
And the well-sinkers seemed to be feeling the drought
If the water was scarce well the whisky was there
What they didn't swallow they rubbed in their hair

There was music and dancing and going the pace
Some went at a canter some went at a race
There was bucking and gliding and staggering and sliding
And to vary the gait some couples colliding

Oh Euabalong Ball was a wonderful sight
With the two-tooths so frisky the whole flaming night
And many there'll be who regret to recall
The polkas they danced at Euabalong Ball

From Rod Edward's Great Australian Folk Songs. Mark Gregory has some great notes on this variation of Wooyeo Ball on his Australian Folk Songs site.

Monday, March 28, 2011

All I Want



Don Henderson




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All I want is a little bit to eat and a place to lay me down
I just want to feel my feet set firmly on the ground
The captain's mad
The judge is sad
Politician is a clown
All I want is a little bit to eat and a place to lay me down

The captain in the charting room, moving coloured pins
He clears the board, the colours go to their respective tins
Then out again, to tell the men,
The neatest army wins
All I want is a little bit to eat and a place to lay me down

The judge with his presumption, his gavel and his wig
Enacts the farce of justice, stars as mr big
A different cast, the sentence passed, then onto another gig
All I want is a little bit to eat and a place to lay me down

The elected politician, asleep in parliament
Expresses thus the views of those he's come to represent
Record his snores, they're common cause
They even pay the rent
All I want is a little bit to eat and a place to lay me down

I was with a girl the other night, she looked into my eyes
And said, "do you believe in love?"
That was a surprise.
I said, "When I'm fed, I believe in bed. I'll tell to you no lies"
All I want is a little bit to eat and a place to lay me down


A classically simple piece from Don Henderson. The illustration is a painting of Campbell the Swaggie by Nicole Murray.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The London Apprentice Boy


Traditional




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Twas on the eighth of last July,
My love to me did say
"Cheer up your heart, tonight we part
If you want your master slain"
She placed a knife within my hand
My master to destroy
Says I, "My lass it will not do
For the London apprentice boy"

Twas on the hour of twelve one night
To my master's house I went
To rob him and to murder him
It was my full intent
I robbed him of ten thousand pound
But the knife I threw away
A master so good and kind was he
To the London apprentice boy

The morning when my trial was o'er
My letters proved my word
The girl I love so dearly
She went and swore untrue
She was dressed in silks and satins
And my life she swore away
For she went and swore the life away
of the London apprentice boy

My sister came to hear my trial,
The only friend I had
My father and my mother
Lay mouldering in the sand
Sentenced to death was passed on my
I heard the whole court say
I heard them say what a sad, sad day
For the London apprentice boy

Now all you young and foolish lads
A warning take by me
It's do your best or you'll never rest
And shun bad company
Once like you I did ramble
On me they did decoy
And now I'm in Van Dieman's Land
Is the London apprentice boy.


From Rod Edwards, Great Australian Folk Songs

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Doing Time




Traditional



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It's a bitter day of sorrow
When you drink the cup of shame
You're branded with a number
And forced to give your name
You put on them dirty garments
As the outcome of your crime
'Tis a bitter day of sorrow boy
When you're doing time

At night you are surrounded
By four great white-washed walls
You will hear the hours chiming
As the warder makes his calls
Or maybe you are dreaming
Of the one you love so well
When suddenly you're wakened
By the ringing of the bell

You roll your nap in silence
As you listen to the chime
'Tis a bitter day of sorrow boy
When you're doing time
This hill of life's a steep one
A long and dreary climb
But it's twice as long and steep my boy
When you're doing time


Another great song collected by Ron Edwards. From the Big Book of Australian Folk Songs. This recording with Steve Cook on guitar.

The photograph accompanying this post is of a Chinese prisoner, named Gee Dee.

This from the Public Record Office Victoria site:
The first photographic evidence of Chinese prisoners in the prison registers appears in 1863. Gee Dee was sentenced in 1860 to two years imprisonment for robbing a store. In October 1863, at 40 years of age, he was convicted of murder for the brutal stabbing of William Humffries in his Bright store. It was then that a photograph was placed on his record.

Gee Dee’s death sentence was commuted to hard labour for life, with the first three years in irons. He was released after 21 years, aged 61, was paid £5.9.11 and given a ‘suit of clothes’.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jim Jones At Botany Bay



Traditional



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Oh listen for a moment lads and hear me tell my tale
How o'er the sea from England's shore I was compelled to sail
The jury says "he guilty sir" and says the judge, says he
"For life Jim Jones I'm sending you across the stormy sea"

"And take my tip before you ship to join the iron gang
Dont be too gay at Botany Bay or else you'll surely hang
"Or else you'll hang" he says, says he, "and after that Jim Jones
It's high upon the gallows tree the crows will pick your bones"

"You'll have no chance for mischief there remember what I say
They'll flog the poaching out of you out there at Botany Bay"
The waves were high upon the sea the wind blew up in gales
I'd rather drown in misery than come to New South Wales

The winds blew high upon the sea, and the pirates came along
But the soldiers on our convict ship were full five hundred strong
They opened fire and somehow drove that pirate ship away
I'd rather joined that pirate ship than come to New South Wales

For night and day the irons clang and like poor galley slaves
We toil and toil, and when we die, must fill dishonoured graves
But bye and bye I'll break my chains into the bush I'll go,
And join the bold bushrangers there Jack Donahoo and Co

And some dark night when everything is silent in this town
I'll kill the tyrants one by one and shoot the floggers down
I'll give the law a little shock, remember what I say
They'll yet regret they sent Jim Jones in chains to Botany Bay


To the tune, "Irish Mollie, Oh". From MacAlister's "Old Pioneering Days in the South South" (1907). Two extra lines in the third verse are from John Merediths "Bushwacker Broadsides".

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ben Hall


Traditional




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Come all you young Australians and everyone besides
I'll sing to you a ditty that will fill you with surprise
Concerning of a ranger bold whose name it was Ben Hall
But cruelly murdered was this day which proved his downfall

An outcast from society he was forced to take the road
All through his false and treacherous wife who sold off his abode
He was hunted like a native dog from bush to hill and dale
Till he turned upon his enemies and they could not find his trail

All out with his companions men's blood he scorned to shed
He oft-times stayed their lifted hands with vengeance on their heads
No petty mean or pilfering act he ever stooped to do
But robbed the rich and hearty man and scorned to rob the poor

One night as he in ambush lay all on the Lachlan Plain
When thinking everthing secure to ease himself had lain
When to his consternation and to his great surprise
And without one moment's warning a bullet past him flies

And it was soon succeeded by a volley sharp and loud
With twelve revolving rifles all pointed at his head
Where are you Gilbert? where is Dunn? he loudly did call
It was all in vain they were not there to witness his downfall

They riddled all his body as if they were afraid
But in his dying moment he breathed curses on their heads
That cowardly hearted Condel the sergeant of police
He crept and fired with fiendish glee till death did him release

Although he had a lions heart more braver than the brave
Those cowards shot him like a dog no word of challenge gave
Though many friends had poor Ben Hall his enemies were few
Like the emblems of his native land his days were numbered too

It's through Australia's sunny climb Ben Hall will roam no more
His name is spread both near and far to every distant shore
For generations after this parents will to their children call
And rehearse for them the daring deeds comitted by Ben Hall


A second song regarding the bushranger, Ben Hall, this time collected by John Manifold from Sally Sloane.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Streets of Forbes



Traditional





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Come all you Lachlan men and a sorrowful tale I'll tell,
Concerning of a hero bold who through misfortune fell,
His name it was Ben Hall, a man of good renown,
Who was hunted from his station, and like a dog shot down.

Three years he roamed the roads, and he showed the traps some fun,
One thousand pounds was on his head, with Gilbert and Jack Dunn.
Ben parted from his comrades, the outlaws did agree,
To give away bushranging and to cross the briny sea.

Ben went to Goobang Creek, and that was his downfall
For riddled like a sieve was the valiant Ben Hall,
'Twas early in the morning upon the fifth of May
That the seven police surrounded him as fast asleep they lay.

Bill Dargin he was chosen to shoot the outlaw dead,
The troopers then fired madly and they filled him full of lead,
They rolled him in his blanket and strapped him to his prad,[8]
And they led him through the streets of Forbes, to show the prize they had.


The story of the bushranger, Ben Hall. This song is sometimes attributed to John McGuire, Ben Hall's brother-in-law, this song was collected by John Manifold. I learnt it at school. This version is from the cloudstreet album, Swallow the Concertina.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Whaling In The Southern Ocean



D McFarlane





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When I was just a lad, there was money to be had
As a deckhand for a whaling company
So I signed aboard Cheynes II and I joined a hearty crew
And went whaling on the Southern Ocean

Chorus:
And a-whaling I will go, like my fathers long ago.
Captain Stubbs is our master gunner man.
From the Port of Albany, we will cross the briny sea,
And go whaling on the Southern Ocean

Well I could have had a job for a wage of forty bob,
Or been a farmer like my oid man,
But the sound of the sea has been calling out to me
To go whaling on the Southern Ocean

When the spotters report there's two bulls to the port
And the shout comes, "There she blows!"
Well our master's aim is true, and our crew knows what to do
And the cook is the only man below

Well the whaling year has passed, and the die has long been cast,
And the strangers gather 'round to see the show.
To see the harpoons rust, and the scoops all gather dust,
And the faded photographs of long ago.


A song about the last operational whaling station in Australia at Albany and the life of the crew and Captain Stubbs who was the last harpooner in Australian waters. Sent to me by Bob Eden of the "The Fo'c's'le Firkins" (Peter "Murf" Murphy, Alan Ralph, Terry "Tel" Reddy, Alistair "Digger" Wilson, Fred Carter and Bob Eden). Bob credits the song to D McFarlane. I'm unsure if this is Duncan McFarlane. Any guidance would be appreciated.

(The reference to the whaling year having "passed" suggests this is a modern song. The "strangers gathering around" could be a reference to the Albany Whaling Museum ("Whale World") which opened in 1980.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

No More Boomerang




Words: Oodgeroo Noonuccal
Tune: Phyl Lobl




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No more boomerang no more spear,
Now all civilised colour bar and beer,
No more corroboree gay dance and din,
Now we got movies and pay to go in.

No more sharing what the hunter brings,
Now we work for money and pay it back for things,
Now we track bosses to catch a few bob,
Now we go walkabout on bus to the job.

One time naked who never knew shame,
Now we put clothes on to hide whatsaname.
No more gunyah now bungalow,
Paid by hire purchase in twenty years or so.

Lay down the stone axe take up the steel,
Work like a nigger for a white man's meal,
No more firestick that made whites scoff,
Now all electric and no better off.

Bunyip he finish got now instead,
White-fella bunyip call him red.
Abstract pictures now, what they comin' at
Cripes in our caves we did better than that.

Black hunted wallaby, white hunt dollar.
White-fella witch-doctor wear dog collar.
No more message lubras and lads,
Got television now, mostly ads,

Lay down the woomera, lay down the waddy,
No we got atom bomb. End everybody.



Author and political activist Oodgeroo Noonuccall (1920–1993) is most commonly lauded as the first Aboriginal poet to publish a collection of verse. Her writing, informed by the oral traditions of her ancestors and guided by her desire to capture that unique, Aboriginal inflection using the English language, strove to share the nuances of the author's beloved culture with a wide audience.

This poem was set to music by Phyl Lobl.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's On



Don Henderson




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A sad story you'll hear if you listen to me,
About two men who could never agree;
What one called white the other called black,
They'd argue a while then step out the back....

Chorus:
And it's on!
All reason and logic are gone!
Winning the fight won't prove that you're right,
It's sad, it's true, but it's on!

When it was over they'd come back and then
The argument would become heated again;
Who'd won the last round they couldn't decide'
Till one asked the other… would he step outside?

They'd been fighting so long that could neither recall
What in the first place had started it all?
But they kept at it day in and day out
Now they're fighting to see what they're fighting about.

Just you imagine if intellectuals
Came to agreement by Queensberry's rules!
It could easily be that the square root of four
Was fifteen less three plus a smack in the jaw.

And if governments think that it makes better sense
To save on education and spend on defence;
Could easily be argued, on the same grounds
That elections should be… the best of ten rounds!


A great Australian singer, songwriter, collector and commentator, Don Henderson was a regular at the 291 Folk Club in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley in the early 1980s. This is probably his best known song.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lovely Lasses of Innisfail


Trad.




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While you yet are young and sound of health,
For Northern Queensland set your sail,
For the loveliest girls in this Commonwealth
Are all to be found in Innisfail.
Yes, like Queensland sugar, so sweet and brown,
Are the lovely lasses of Innisfail;
I am heart-sick of this southern town:
Oh, when goes the Queensland Mail?
 
There are pretty girls in the West, I know,
And darling ones in this southern State,
But the Queenslnd girls, with their laugh so low,
In their sunset eyes I have met my fate.
Yes, like Queensland flowers, so lithe and gay,
Are the lovely lasses of Innisfail;
Farewell, my boys, I'm on my way
Now to catch the Queensland Mail.
 
They walk like queens and like stars they dance,
And their lips are soft and their smiles are deep,
I have loved the girls of Spain and France,
But for all their charms I have lost no sleep.
For lovelier lasses are to be met
By the Johnstone River in Innisfail;
If you find me not, you may take a bet
That I've left on the Queensland Mail


My father's family were from the North Queensland town of Innisfail, where my uncle's cane-farm was sub-divided in the 1960s to become the suburb of Tierney Estate. This song comes from the Queensland Centenary Songbook.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lachlan Tigers



Trad.




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Well at each gate each shearer stood as the whistle loudly blew
With eyebrows fixed and lips set tight and the tigers all fed too
You can hear the clicking of the shears as through the wool they glide
And see the ringer already turned and on the whipping side

A lot of Lachlan tigers it's plain to see they are
And the ringer goes on driving as he loudly calls for tar
Tar here you dozy loafer and quick the tar boy flies
Broom here and sweep those locks away another loudly cries

The scene it is a lively one and ought to be admired
There's never been a better board since Jacky Howe expired
Along the board the contractor walks his face all in a frown
And passing by the ringer he says my lad keep down

I mean to have those bellies off and topknots too likewise
My eye is quick so none of your tricks or from me you will fly
My curse on that contractor by flaming day and night
To shear a decent tally here in vain I've often tried

I have a pair of Ward and Payne's that are both bright and new
I'll rig them up and let you see what I can really do
For I've shore on the Bogan where they shear them by the score
But such a terror as this to clip I've never shore before

A lot of Lachlan tigers it's plain to see they are
And the ringer goes on driving as he loudly calls for tar
The scene it is a lively one and ought to be admired
There's never been a better board since Jacky Howe expired


From AL Lloyds liner notes ("Across the Western Plains", 1958):

A shearer's song from the Forbes district, that drives on at the pace of a ringer [master shearer] on the long blow in a busy shed. The Ward and Paine's mentioned in the song are a brand of shears. Jackie Howe, likewise mentioned, shore 321 wethers at Alice Downs, Central Queensland, in 1892. His record stood until 1947, when Daniel Cooper shore 325 at Glenara, Langkoop, Victoria. The tune, best known in Australia in association with the words of The Shearer's Cook, is a Scottish melody sometimes called Musselburgh Fair (It also exists in America, as The Cruise of the Bigler).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Answer's Ireland




John Dengate




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Who gave Australia the tunes to sing, the tunes of songs so grand?
Songs to inspire, full of beauty and fire – the answer's Ireland.
Know when you sing of Jack Donahue, that he was a Dublin man
And Dennis O'Reilly is travelling still with a blackthorn in his hand.

Who raised a ruckus at Castle Hill, who there defied the crown?
'Twas the same rebel boys who in '98 'gainst odds would not lie down.
Oh, but they made Samuel Marsden fret and ruffled silver tails,
Why, the words "Croppy Pike" were enough to strike fear into New South Wales.

Who agitated at Ballarat for Joe Latrobe's death knell?
Who was it raised up the five-starred flag and damned the traps to hell?
Who was it gathered beneath that flag, where solemn oaths were sworn?
Who would not run from the redcoats' guns, upon Eureka morn?

Ned Kelly's dad was an Irish lad, the Kellys all died game.
Brave Michael Dwyer's bones are buried here, we'll not forget that name.
Who could resist Larry Foley's fist, and Foley wore the green.
Who led the anti-conscription ranks in 1917?


Today's song is in honour of St Patrick's Day.

NOTES FROM MUDCAT(contributed by "Simon"):

John Dengate is well-known in local Irish and folk music circles for his witty (often satirical) songs and poems, having had a lengthy history in those areas.

For those who don't know, John ('Bold Jack') Donohue (1806 – 1830) was a bushranger in the Sydney region until he was shot by police. (One version of The Wild Colonial Boy uses his name.) Dennis O'Reilly is the subject of an eponymous song by and about early Irish settlers in Australia.The second verse refers to the involvement in the convict uprising of 1804 of Irish transportees who had earlier taken part in the 1798 Rising in Ireland. The latter were called 'Croppies' by their enemies
and both groups often had only pikes for weapons – just long blades attached to poles.

The Rev. Samuel Marsden was a wealthy landowner and magistrate at Parramatta when our Battle of Vinegar Hill took place, known and feared as 'the Flogging Parson'.

Charles Joseph Latrobe was Governor of Victoria during the Eureka Stockade confrontation of 1854, of which no more should need to be said.

The reference to Michael Dwyer (1722? – 1825) is of interest, as he was a leader of the 1798 Rising whom the British were unable to capture until he surrendered on his own terms. He and his family were sent to Sydney in 1806 and were received 100 acres of uncleared land in the Liverpool region. Dwyer and his wife are buried under the Irish Monument at Waverly Cemetery, the building of which commenced in 1898 to commemorate the Rising.

Laurence Foley (1849 – 1917) was a professional boxer who never lost a fight and retired at the age of 32 with sufficient prize money to open a hotel and a boxing academy in Sydney. As far as we can determine, his only Green credentials came from being the leader of a Catholic 'larrikin' gang in Inner Sydney as a young man. In 1871, he fought his Protestant (Orange) counterpart, Sandy Owens, in a street for 71 rounds before the police intervened – Foley was considered the likely winner.
Lastly, attempts to introduce conscription during World War I were fiercely opposed by many groups, not least by those of Irish extraction whose priority it was to complete the work of the 1916 Easter Rising rather than to go to war 'for King and Country'.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bundaberg Rum



Bill Scott




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God made the sugar cane grow where it's hot,
And teetotal abstainers to grow where it's not.
Let the sin bosun warn of perdition to come;
We'll drink it and chance it, so bring on the rum.

CHORUS:
Bundaberg rum, and it's overproof rum,
Will tan your inside and grow hair on your bum.
Let the blue ribbon beat on his empty old drum
Or his waterlogged belly, but we'll stick to our rum.

We're men who drink it, oh yes, men indeed,
Of the bushranging hairnecked olden time breed.
We shave with our axes. We dress in old rags.
We feed on old boots and we sleep on old bags.

Dull care flies away when our voices resound,
And the grass shrivels up when we spit on the ground.
When we finally die and are buried in clay,
Our bodies are pickled and never decay.

On the Morning of Judgment, when the skies are rolled back,
We'll stroll from our graves up the long golden track,
And our voices will echo throughout Kingdom Come
As we toast the archangels in Bundaberg Rum.


Bundaberg Rum is a popular alcoholic beverage in Queensland. Bill Scott was a great Queensland collector and writer of songs and poetry.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Goorianawa



Trad.





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I’ve been many years a shearer and I fancied I could shear,
I’ve shore for Rouse of Guntawang and always missed the spear;
I’ve shore for Nicholas Bayly, and I declare to you
That on his pure Merinos, I could always struggle through.

Chorus
But it’s O my, I never saw before
the way we had to knuckle down at Goorianawa.

I’ve been shearing down the Bogan as far as Dandaloo,
For good old Reid of Tabratong I’ve often cut a few.
Haddon Rig and Quambone, and even Wingadee;
I could close my shears at six o’clock with a quiet century.

I’ve shore for Bob McMaster down on the Rockedgiel Creek
And I could always dish him up with thirty score a week.
I’ve shore at Terramungamine, and on the Talbraga
And I ran McDermott for the cobbler when we shore at Buckingbar

I’ve been shearing on the Goulburn side, and down at Douglas Park,
Where every day ‘twas “Wool Away!” and toby did his work.
I’ve shore for General Stewart whose tomb is on The Mount;
And the sprees I’ve had with Scrammy Jack are more than I can count.

I’ve been shearing at Eugowra – I’ll never forget the name,
Where Gardiner robbed the escort, which from the Lachlan came.
I’ve shore for Bob Fitzgerald down at the Dabee Rocks,
McPhillamy of Charlton, and your Mister Henry Cox.

But that was in the good old days – you might have heard them say
How Skillycorn from Bathurst rode to Sydney in a day.
Now I'm broken mouthed and my shearing's at an end,
And although they call me Whalebone, I was never known to bend.

I've shorn in every woolshed from the Barwon to the sea,
But I got speared at Goorianawa before I’d barbered three.
For by the living Joseph I never saw before
Such sheep as made us knuckle down at Goorianawa.
But it’s spare me flamin’ days! I never saw before
the way we had to knuckle down at Goorianawa.


Another great song collected by John Meredith from Duke Tritton.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Morning of the Fray/Eugowra Rocks



Trad?/McAlister



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It's all about bold Frank Gardiner with the devil in his eye
He said "We've work before us lads we've got to do or die
So blacken up your faces before the dead of night
And its over by Eugowra Rocks we'll either fall or fight"

Chorus
You can sing of Johnny Gilbert Dan Morgan and Ben Hall
But the bold and reckless Gardiner he's the boy to beat them all

We'll stop the Orange escort with powder and with ball
We'll shoot the coach to pieces and we'll down the peelers all
We'll lift the diggers' money we'll collar all their gold
So mind your guns are killers now my comrades true and bold

So now off go the rifles the battle has begun
The escort started running boys all in the setting sun
The robbers seized their plunder so saucy and so bold
And they're riding from Eugowra Rocks encumbered with their gold

And as with savage laughter they left that fatal place
They cried "We've struck bonanza boys we've won the steeplechase!"
And Gardiner their leader he shouted a loud "Hooray
I think we've made our fortunes at Eugowra Rocks today"




Recorded by AL Lloyd. Originally published in "Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South (1907), a limited 750 copy edition by Charles MacAlister, under the title The Morning of the Fray




From the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

GARDINER (CHRISTIE), FRANCIS (1830-1903?), bushranger, was born in Scotland, son of Charles Christie and his wife Jane, née Whittle. The family reached Sydney in the James in 1834 and settled at Boro near Goulburn. He went to Victoria and in October 1850 as Francis Christie was sentenced to five years' hard labour at Geelong for horse stealing. Next March he escaped from Pentridge gaol and returned to New South Wales. In March 1854 he was convicted as Francis Clarke at Goulburn on two charges of horse stealing and imprisoned on Cockatoo Island. In December 1859 he was given a ticket-of-leave for the Carcoar district, but broke parole and went south and by the end of 1860 as Frank Gardiner he had a butchery at Lambing Flat but skipped bail. Known as 'The Darkie', he began highway robbery on the Cowra Road. In July 1861 at a sly grog shop near Oberon he shot and wounded Sergeant John Middleton; Trooper Hosie was also wounded although allegedly bribed to let Gardiner escape.

Gardiner joined up with Johnny Piesley; after ranging the old Lachlan Road they moved to the Weddin Mountains and were joined by John Gilbert, Ben Hall and others. The police under Sir Frederick Pottinger could not catch the gang for it moved too rapidly aided by 'bush telegraphs'.

On 15 June 1862 at the Coonbong Rock near Eugowra Gardiner's gang held up the gold escort and got away with £14,000. Soon afterwards Gardiner, while visiting his mistress Kate, wife of John Brown of Wheogo, narrowly escaped from Pottinger. With her he went to Queensland where as Mr and Mrs Frank Christie they ran a store and shanty at Apis Creek near Rockhampton. In February 1864 he was traced by the New South Wales police and arrested. Tried for wounding Sergeant Middleton with intent to kill, he was acquitted by the jury but found guilty in July on two non-capital charges. Chief Justice (Sir) Alfred Stephen, gave him a cumulative sentence of thirty-two years' hard labour. In 1872 William Bede Dalley, who had defended Gardiner, organized petitions to the governor to use his prerogative of mercy. Sir Hercules Robinson decided that Gardiner had been harshly sentenced and in 1874 released him subject to his exile. This decision provoked a public controversy with petitions, counter-petitions and violent debates in the Legislative Assembly, and led to the fall of Parkes's government.

On 27 July Gardiner embarked for Hong Kong and by February 1875 was in San Francisco where he ran the Twilight Saloon. The press continued to note his activities, including his death in Colorado about 1903, but most reports were unsubstantiated.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blue Murder





Alistair Hulett





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They say it's easy money
A full page ad in the local rag,
Always nice and sunny.
Come on lad, and pack your bag.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they're getting away with blue murder.

It's off to West Australia.
Leave the old hometown behind.
Be a winner, not a failure.
There's money to be made in the Wittenoom Mine.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they're getting away with blue murder.

They took me to my quarters,
A stinking bed in an old tin shed.
Got my working orders,
With a lamp, and tin hat on my head.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they're getting away with blue murder.

My girl she's a cook and a cleaner.
Works all day in the canteen hall.
Six days since I've seen her.
Some don't have no girl at all.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they're getting away with blue murder.

Sweeps the fine blue dust up.
Tips it into an old wool pack.
Never had a check-up.
If she did she'd get the sack

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they're getting away with blue murder.

I feel my health is failing
Working down in the thick blue dust.
The kids play in the tailings.
The boss says work, and work I must.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they're getting away with blue murder.


The late Alistair Hulett's classic song about the mining of blue asbestos in Western Australia. Considered by some to have been Australia's greatest industrial disaster, thousands of miners were exposed to lethal concentrations of asbestos dust in the course of their work. While no deaths were recorded in the ten years following their employment, 85 deaths from malignant mesothelioma were reported between 1976 and 1985. You can read more here.

Shores of Botany Bay




Trad.




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Well, I'm on my way down to the quay
Where the good ship now doth lay
To command a gang of navvies
I was ordered to engage
I thought I would stop in for a while
Before I sailed away
For to take a trip on an immigrant ship
To the shores of Botany Bay


Chorus:
Farewell to your bricks and mortar
Farewell to your dirty lime
Farewell to your gangway and gang planks
And to Hell with your overtime
For the good ship Ragamuffin
She's lying at the quay
For to take old Pat with a shovel on his back
To the shores of Botany Bay

The best years of our life we spend at
Working on the docks
Building mighty wharves and quays
Of earth and ballast rocks
Though pensions keep our jobs secure
I shan't rue the day
When I take a trip on an immigrant ship
To the shores of Botany Bay

Well, the boss comes up this morning
And he says, "Why, Pat, hello
If you do not mix the mortar quick
To be sure you'll have to go"
Well, of course he did insult me
I demanded all me pay
And I told him straight I was going to emigrate
To the shores of Botany Bay

When I reach Australia
I'll go and search for gold
There's plenty there for digging up
Or so I have been told
Or maybe I'll go back to me trade
Eight hundred bricks I'll lay
For an eight hour shift and an eight bob pay
On the shores of Botany Bay

A song that I learnt at school and which I later performed with Alan Salmon and Contraband, busking on the Brisbane mall. The Australian Folk Songs site has it as collected by John Meredith from Duke Tritton, who learnt it while busking.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bold Tommy Payne



Jack Crossland.




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I'll tell you a story, it's sad but it's true,
Of the wild pigs where I come from and the damage they do.
There once was a farmer called Bold Tommy Payne
Who grew some sweet Pindar and Q.50 cane.

It was late in the evening an old boar he came,
And he started a-dining on Bold Tommy's cane,
So up stepped Bold Tommy, the fire in his eye,
He cursed and he swore that the old boar must die.

He reached for his rifle that stood by the door,
And he called for his pig-dogs, and they came by the score.
Then down to the caneflelds, all dressed for the fray
In waistcoat and trousers, Bold Tom made his way.

As he stood on the headland and gazed all around
He heard the cane cracking, and he heard a strange sound.
As the big boar came charging straight for Bold Tom,
The dogs were all barking and the battle was on!

Up stepped Bold Tommy, six feet in the air,
As he straddled the porker he heard his pants tear,
Well, you should have heard the language and the words of Bold Tom
When he found to his sorrow his trousers were gone.

Now out in old Smithfield where the Pindar it grows,
The folks tell the story and they ought to know;
How up on Black Mountain that old boar resides,
And they say that he's still wearing Bold Tommy's strides!


Based on a a true story.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The New Chum's Lament




Trad.
Tune: The Drops of Brandy




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I'm out in Australia at last.
But I heartily wish I was back again
My cash is now running out fast,
Or else I'd be off in a crack again.
Since the day I left home to come here.
Misfortune has always attended me:
And if I stay longer I fear
This country will soon put an end to me.

At first I thought all was serene.
That the folks out here nothing did know at all:
I fancied they seemed rather queer.
That they neither could "gas" nor could "blow" at all.
But alas! I found out my mistake;
For they proved to be most artful dodgers
I found they were all wide awake.
And regular "downy" old codgers.

I'd scarcely set foot in the place:
From the vessel I'd been but an hour off:
On the pier, right before my own face.
Some thieves with my boxes did scour off.
I loudly called for the police;
At length appeared one Seargent Newsome;
I told him they'd stolen my valise,
Said he, "That's how they serve every new chum".

i joined with two chaps whom I met
Who were very good hands at gold digging.,
But old habits they couldn't forget,
For I bowl'd them out one day a-prigging.
This opened my eyes to their game.
Although I said nothing about it
And yet I must own 'twas a shame,
And what honest person would doubt it?

When we'd been on the diggings a week,
We put down a twenty foot shicer,
Provisions were dear on the creek,
And my tin had run out in a trice, sir.
Then seeing that my cash was all spent
Perhaps you may doubt my sad story,
They sold both my tools and my tent
And left me alone in my glory.

And now as they'd bolted away
To wind up the whole of the matter
No longer up here will I stay
Because I am now but a hatter
Every man has imposed upon me,
So all of you new chums now be advised
And do nothing rash do you see,
Until you've been thoroughly colonised.


From Ron Edward's Great Australian Folk Songs. Published in Hodgson's Colonial Songster around 1857.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Broken-Down Squatter


Charles Augustus Flower



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Come, Stumpy old man, we must shift while we can
All your mates in the paddock are dead
Let us wave our farewells to Glen Eva's sweet dells
And the hills where your lordship was bred
Together to roam from our drought-stricken home
It's tough that such things have to be
And it's hard on a horse to have nought for a boss
But a broken-down squatter like me

Chorus
For the banks are all broken they say
And the merchants are all up a tree
When the big-wigs are brought
To the Bankruptcy Court
What hope for a squatter like me

No more shall we muster the river for fats
Or spiel on the Fifteen Mile Plain
Or rip through the scrub by the light of the moon
Or see the old stockyard again
Leave the slip-panels down, it won't matter much now
There are none but the crows left to see
Perching gaunt on yon pine, as though longing to dine
On a broken-down squatter like me

When the country was cursed with the drought at its worst
And the cattle were dying in scores
Though down on my luck, I kept up my pluck
Thinking justice might temper the laws
But the farce has been played, and the Government aid
Ain't extended to squatters, old son
When my money was spent, they doubled the rent
And resumed the best half of the run

'Twas done without reason, for leaving the season
No squatter could stand such a rub
For it's useless to squat when the rents are so hot
That you can't save the price of your grub
And there's not much to choose 'twixt the banks and the screws
Once a fellow gets put up a tree
No odds what I feel, there's no Court of Appeal
For a broken-down squatter like me


The recording presented here is from the cloudstreet recording, The Circus of Desires and features Nicole Murray on harmony vocals and octave fiddle.

Charles Flower was a relatively-wealthy property owner on the Darling Downs in the late 19th century. While his own wealth survived, he was moved by the plight of farmers forced to leave their properties in the depression of 1890. This song was first published in 1894.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another Fall of Rain


Words: John Neilson
Tune: Trad (Little Log Cabin in the Dell)




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The weather has been sultry for a fortnight now or more
And the shearers have been driving might and main
For some have got the century who ne'er got it before
But now we all are waiting for the rain

Chorus
For the boss is getting rusty and the ringer's caving in
His bandaged wrist is aching with the pain
And the second man I fear will make it hot for him
Unless we have another fall of rain

Now some had taken quarters and were keeping well in bunk
When we shore the six-tooth wethers from the plain
And if the sheep get harder then a few more men will flunk
Unless we have another fall of rain

Some cockies come here shearing they would fill a little book
About this sad dry weather for the grain
But here is lunch a-coming make way for Dick the cook
Old Dick is nigh as welcome as the rain

But the sky is clouding over and the thunder's muttering loud
And the clouds are sweeping westward o'er the plain
And I see the lightning flashing round the edge of yon black cloud
And I hear the gentle patter of the rain

So, lads, put up your stoppers and let us to the hut
Where we'll gather round and have a friendly game
While some are playing music and some play ante up
And some are gazing outwards at the rain.

But now the rain is over let the pressers spin the screw
Let the teamsters back their wagons in again
We'll block the classer's table by the way we push them through
For everything goes merry since the rain.

So its "Boss bring out the bottle" and we'll wet the final flock
For the shearers here may never meet again
Well some may meet next season and some not even then
And some they will just vanish like the rain

Final Chorus
And the boss he won't be rusty when his sheep they all are shore
And the ringer's wrist won't ache much with the pain
Of pocketing his cheque for a hundred quid or more
And the second man will press him hard again


These lyrics are from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs site and include Dave De Hugard's variation of the chorus.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sign-On Day



Trad.



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It's sign-on day at the Dance Palais
And we're down to a quid or two
But we'll cut a quick ton if you give us the run
And we'll see the season through

Chorus:
You can have Maria,
Sophia and Madelaine,
But we'll take the sugar
That comes from sugarcane

We've cut down on the rivers
And up at Mossman too,
But give us the cane with the Herbert strain
And we'll see the season through

The ganger is a gun, me boys,
The cook can make a stew,
If he drops the cane inspector in,
We'll see the season through

Our hands are raw, but two bob more
Will make them seem like new,
If we get enough pay we'll cut all day
'Til we see the season through

There's grog of sorts in other parts,
But Cairns has got the brew
That we'll drink and drink and drink and drink
When we've seen the season through

From Ron Edwards Great Australian Folk Songs. "Learnt from Bill Oliver, Redlynch, North Queensland, 1960. The song refers to signing on for work on the cane-fields near Cairns. Signing-on would often take place at a local hall, in this case The Grand Palais.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Do You Think That I Do Not Know



Words: Henry Lawson
Tune: Slim Dusty




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They say that I never have written of love,
As a writer of songs should do;
They say that I never could touch the strings
With a touch that is firm and true;
They say I know nothing of women and men
In the fields where Love's roses grow,
And they say I must write with a halting pen
Do you think that I do not know?

When the love-burst came, like an English Spring,
In days when our hair was brown,
And the hem of her skirt was a sacred thing
And her hair was an angel's crown.
The shock when another man touched her arm,
Where the dancers sat round in a row;
The hope and despair, and the false alarm
Do you think that I do not know?

By the arbour lights on the western farms,
You remember the question put,
While you held her warm in your quivering arms
And you trembled from head to foot.
The electric shock from her finger tips,
And the murmuring answer low,
The soft, shy yielding of warm red lips
Do you think that I do not know?

She was buried at Brighton, where Gordon sleeps,
When I was a world away;
And the sad old garden its secret keeps,
For nobody knows to-day.
She left a message for me to read,
Where the wild wide oceans flow;
Do you know how the heart of a man can bleed
Do you think that I do not know?

I stood by the grave where the dead girl lies,
When the sunlit scenes were fair,
And the white clouds high in the autumn skies,
And I answered the message there.
But the haunting words of the dead to me
Shall go wherever I go.
She lives in the Marriage that Might Have Been
Do you think that I do not know?

They sneer or scoff, and they pray or groan,
And the false friend plays his part.
Do you think that the blackguard who drinks alone
Knows aught of a pure girl's heart?
Knows aught of the first pure love of a boy
With his warm young blood aglow,
Knows aught of the thrill of the world-old joy
Do you think that I do not know?

They say that I never have written of love,
They say that my heart is such
That finer feelings are far above;
But a writer may know too much.
There are darkest depths in the brightest nights,
When the clustering stars hang low;
There are things it would break his strong heart to write
Do you think that I do not know?


From Skyline Riders and Other Verses


TO MY FRIENDS

THESE are songs of the Friends I neglected--
And the Foes, too, in part;
These are songs that were mostly rejected--
But songs from my heart.

Yours truly,
HENRY LAWSON.
Sydney, 19/9/'10.

You will find the book reproduced (including the excellent introduction) at Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Death of Alec Robertson


Randwick Race Course


Unknown. (collected by Ron Edwards from Mick Dolan who learnt it near Cooktown in the early 20th century).



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Kind friends come gather round me
And a song I'll sing to you,
About poor Alec Robertson,
A sportsman brave and true.
Some say it was young Dowland's fault,
However it's too late,
The horses fell, and life has fled,
The jockey's met his fate.

Go tell my dear old mother,
Who lives down in Geelong,
That Joe's been badly wounded,
By the jockeys who rode wrong.
My head does ache, my sides do pain,
I feel I am insane,
If God would only spare me,
I'd see mother once again.

'Twas the railing horse that came down first,
He got a nasty fall,
Then up came poor old Silvermine,
And tumbled over all,
His death was caused by Valentine,
And there the jockey lay,
They raised his head e'er life had fled,
And these are the words he said.

'Tis a hobby of all boys out here,
A jockey for to be,
To ride a horse, to scale the course,
They do no danger see.
It's right enough but for a while,
To ride for a big sum,
But when the news comes home to say,
A mother's lost her son.


From The Queenslander, 21 July 1888:
A graceful tribute of respect (says the Sydney Mail) has been paid to the memory of the late Alec Robertson by Mr. William Cooper, to whose order a handsome monument has been erected over the last resting-place of the deceased jockey in Waverley cemetery. It consists of a marble cross, artistically wreathed with floral embellishments, and supported on a massive bluestone base.

The plinth bears the following inscription —
"In memory of Alec Robertson, aged 27, who was accidentally killed at Randwick on January 2, 1888, whilst riding Silvermine in Tattersall's Cup. This memorial was erected by William Cooper as a mark of esteem and respect."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Botany Bay



by Florian Pascal (1847 - 1923)



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Farewell to Old England forever
Farewell to my old pals as well
Farewell to the well known Old Bailee
Where I once used to be such a swell


Chorus:
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.

There's the captain as is our commandeer,
There's bo'sun and all the ship's crew
There's first and the second class passengers,
Knows what we poor convicts goes through

'Taint leaving Old England we cares about,
'Taint 'cos we mispells wot we knows
But becos all we light finger'd gentry
Hop's around with a log on our toes.

Oh had I the wings of a turtle-dove,
I'd soar on my pinions so high,
Slap bang to the arms of my Polly love,
And in her sweet presence I'd die

Now all my young Dookies and Duchesses,
Take warning from what I've to say,
Mind all is your own as you touch-es-es,
Or you'll find us in Botany Bay,



NOTES from

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Queensland Whalers





Lyrics and Music © Harry Robertson, and subsequently ©1995 Mrs Rita Robertson, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA.





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I've sailed the North Atlantic, where ice blows in the breeze.
And roamed the Dutch West Indies in the calm blue sunny seas.
When I think of ships and seamen, my thoughts return again
To a season spent in Moreton Bay with Queensland whaling men.

Chorus:
Sing ho, you Queensland whalers, who have cut the sugar cane,
And drove the herds of cattle o'er the dry and dusty plain.
You've dug the ore at Isa, laid countless miles of rail,
And now you come to Moreton Bay to catch the humpback whale.

For men who've chased the brumbies, caught bullocks by the tail
It really is no problem to catch a humpback whale.
Just spur your iron sea-horse, put the gun through rigging struts
And when he runs from the coral scrub, you belt him in the guts.

The man up in the crow's nest, as whaling legend goes,
Looks out across the water and then cries, "Thar she blows,"
But here in sunny Queensland you'll sometimes hear them shout
"There goes a bloody beauty, mate, so get your finger out.'

From Moreton to Caloundra bronze whaler sharks abound
They wait like dingoes in the scrub for a wounded beast that's down.
But their taste for blood and savagery, it never could compare
With the bite that Inland Revenue took from our bonus share.

When fuel tanks were running low, we'd sail to Brisbane town
And at the nearest boozer our sorrows we would drown.
With beer and fiery whiskey, and plonk of vintage rare
We'd steer a steady zigzag course without a blasted care.

Hooray the season's over, and we can all return
To greet our wives and sweethearts and have a little fun.
We'll rant like cattle drovers, we'll roar like whaling men,
But when the season starts next year you'll find us back again.




From Harry Robertson's benchmark LP "WHALE CHASING MEN — Songs of Whaling in Ice and Sun" released in 1971 by T. Albert and Sons under their Music For Pleasure label. Lyrics from Therese Radic's Songs of Australian Working Life.

For lyrics and further information, go to the official Harry Robertson website: www.harryrobertson.net.

Following is Harry's own rendition of this great song:



(with thanks to Evan and Lyn Mathieson)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On The Queensland Railway Line






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On the Queensland railway lines
There are stations where one dines
Private individuals
Also run refreshment rooms

CHORUS

Bogan-Tungan, Rollingstone,.
Mungar, Murgon, Marathone,
Guthalungra, Pinkenba,
Wanko, Yaamba, - ha, ha, ha!

Males and females, high and dry,
Hang around at Durikai,
Boora-Mugga, Djarawong,
Giligulul, Wonglepong.

Pies and coffee, baths and showers
Are supplied at Charters Towers;
At Mackay the rule prevails
Of restricting showers to males.

Iron rations come in handy,
On the way to Dirranbandi,
Passengers have died of hunger
During halts at Garradunga,

Let us toast, before we part,
Those who travel, stout of heart,
Drunk or sober, rain or shine,
On a Queensland railway line


This parody of a German folk song was written by The Brisbane Realist Writers' Group in 1959. Printed in The Queensland Centenary Pocket Songbook.