Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Murrumbidgee Shearer

Words: AB Paterson
Music: Unknown

Come, all you jolly natives, and I'll relate to you
Some of my observations-adventures, too, a few.
I've travelled about the country for miles, full many a score,
And oft-times would have hungered, but for the cheek I bore.

I've coasted on the Barwon-low down the Darling, too,
I've been on the Murrumbidgee, and out on the Paroo;
I've been on all the diggings, boys, from famous Ballarat;
I've loafed upon the Lachlan and fossicked Lambing Flat.

I went up to a squatter, and asked him for a feed,
But the knowledge of my hunger was swallowed by his
He said I was a loafer and for work had no desire,
And so, to do him justice, I set his shed on fire.

Oh, yes, I've touched the shepherd's hut, of sugar, tea, and
And a tender bit of mutton I always could devour.
I went up to a station, and there I got a job;
Plunged in the store, and hooked it, with a very tidy lob.

Oh, yes, my jolly dandies, I've done it on the cross.
Although I carry bluey now, I've sweated many a horse.
I've helped to ease the escort of many's the ounce of gold;
The traps have often chased me, more times than can be told.

Oh, yes, the traps have chased me, been frightened of their
They never could have caught me, they feared my cure for
And well they knew I carried it, which they had often seen
A-glistening in my flipper, chaps, a patent pill machine.

I've been hunted like a panther into my mountain lair.
Anxiety and misery my grim companions there.
I've planted in the scrub, my boys, and fed on kangaroo,
And wound up my avocations by ten years on Cockatoo.

So you can understand, my boys, just from this little rhyme,
I'm a Murrumbidgee shearer, and one of the good old time.

From the Banjo's Old Bush Songs. The full text of this great book is available at Project Gutenberg.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Maryborough Miner

Come all you sons of liberty and listen to me song:
I'll tell you me observations and it won't take very long.
I've fossicked around this continent five thousand miles or more
And many's the time I might have starved but for the cheek I bore.

I've been on all the diggings, boys, from famous Ballarat,
I've long-tommed on the Lachlan and I've fossicked Lambing Flat.
So you can understand, me boys, just from my little rhyme,
I'm a Maryborough miner and I'm one of the good old time.

I came to the Fitzroy River all with me Bendigo rig;
I had a shovel, a pick, and a pan, and for a licence I begged.
But the assay man called me a loafer, said for work I'd no desire,
And so to do him justice, boys, I set his office on fire.

Oh yes, my jolly jokers, I've done it on the cross,
Although I carry me bluey now, I've sweated many a horse.
I've helped to rob the escort of many an ounce of gold
And the traps have trailed upon my tail more times than I've ever told.

Oh yes, the traps have trailed me and been frightened out of their stripes;
They never could have caught me for they feared me cure for gripes.
And well they knew I carried it for they had often seen it
Glistening in me flipper chaps, me patent pill machine.

I'm one of the men who cradled on the reef at Tarrangower,
Anxiety and misery me grim companions there.
I puddled the clay at Bendigo and I chanced me arm at Kew,
And I wound up my avocation with ten years on Cockatoo.

I've been on all the diggings, boys, from famous Ballarat,
I've long-tommed on the Lachlan and I've fossicked Lambing Flat.
So you may understand, my boys, just from this little rhyme,
I'm a Maryborough miner and I'm one of the good old time.

From AL Lloyd's 1956 Australian Bush Songs album.

These sleeve notes are from his second recording of the song on his 1958 release, Across the Western Plains:

The great gold rushes which began in the 1850's developed a self-reliant class of men. Among the most admirable were the men who raised the flag of stars at Eureka Stockade in 1854 against oppressive authority. Among the least admirable were those who were prepared to get their gold at the point of a pistol, if they couldn't get it by the point of a pick. But often it was hard to tell the best from the worst among the diggers, as with the genial old rascal of this song. Of the Victorian township of Maryborough, Mark Twain said it was a “railway station with a town attached.” The people of Maryborough replied: “Even Mark Twain has to pay tribute to our impressive railway station.” (Some say that the railways people got their plans mixed, and that the station they built at Maryborough had been designed for the centre of Melbourne.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Kookaburra Song

Marion Sinclair

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Save some there for me!

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
That's not a monkey, that's me!

Written in 1932 by Marion Sinclair for the Victorian Guides.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fine Young Men

Words: Eric Bogle
Music: John Munro

They told all the fine young men
“When this War is over
There will be peace
And the peace will lost forever"
ln Flanders fields, at Lone Pine ond Bersheeba
For King and Country, for honour ond duty
The young men fought ond cursed ond wept ond died

They told all the fine young men
“When this War is over
There will be peace
And the peace will lost forever"
Tobruk ond Alamein, Bhuna ond Kokoda
ln a world mad with War like their fathers before
The young men fought and cursed and wept and died

For many of those fine young men
All the wars are over
They’ve found their peace
lt’s the peace thot losts forever
When the call comes agoin they will not ansvver
They’re just forgotten bones lying for from their homes
As forgotten as the cause for which they died
Ah, young men, can you see now why they lied?

A great song from the pen of Eric Bogle, a Scot who found his home in Australia and has written some of the best-known and loved Australian songs.

Les Darcy

Newton and Warener Chappeli

Roll up ! roll up ! and see the show, you local blokes let's see you go
A quid for a goer, two bob for a dud, it's a princely pay for sweat and blood.

Young Les was keen to have a go, "now watch him Les ! he'll hit you low"
The tent-show boy never saw it coming, Maitland's pride was off and running
All I can wish for tonight is to see les D'Arcy fight.
How they cheered him, they clapped him & they cheered him
Every Saturday night
So he hung around the stadium door, they let him in to sweep the floor,
He saw them spar, the best they'd got, he knew that he could beat the lot
Three rounds to start and then a main, he never swept that floor again,
For he beat them all inside the bell, soon he heard the people yell.
They rolled up in regiments for every fight, they made Les Darcy King for a night
But then he refused to kill in our name, the press they called him a national shame.
He stowed away for the land of the free, he died alone across the sea
In a flag-drap'd coffin they sent 'im 'ome, he sat on our guilt like a champion's throne
He was going down to Tennessee, he was going down to die,
If we'd known that we would break your heart, you would have heard Australia cry.

Les Darcy was Australia's most famous boxer. He trained as a middleweight although at one point he held Australia's middleweigth and heavyweight titles simultaneously.

A hero in his time, he was caught up in a public outrage over whether he was seeking to avoid conscription, He moved to the United States, taking out citizenship two weeks later. He collapsed unexpectedly in Memphis, dying two weeks later from pneumonia on 24 May, 1917.

These notes from Warren Fahey's Larrikins, Louts and Layabouts album.

The year of his death saw another song published, Les Darcy, A Song Of Remembrance. Follow the link for the full score.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Across the Western Plains


It's all for me grog my jolly jolly grog
All for me beer and tobacco
Well I spent all my tin in a shanty drinking gin
Now across the Western plains I must wander

I'm stiff stoney broke and I've parted with me moke
And the sky is looking black as flaming thunder
And the shanty boss is too for I haven't got a sou
That's the way you're treated when you're down and under

I'm sick in the head for I haven't been to bed
Since first I touched this shanty with my plunder
I see centipedes and snakes, and I'm full of aches and shakes
So I"d better make a push out over yonder

Redemption brings reproof, so I sadly pad the hoof
All day I see the mirage of the trees
But it will all have to end, when I reach the river bend
And listen to the sighing of the breeze.

So hang that jolly grog, that hopeless shanty prog
All your beer that's loaded with tobacco
Grafting humour I am in and I'll stick the peg right in
And I'll settle down once more for to yakka

An Australian variation of Noggin Boots, or Across the Western Ocean. This version by cloudstreet, with Vicki Swan on double bass and Jonny Dyer on piano. From our 2010 album, The Circus of Desires.

Another from the Big Book of Australian Folk Songs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Pauline Hanson Song

Martin Pearson

Performed by Martin Pearson & John Thompson. From their second album, Never The Twain: Live at the Pod. Pauline Hanson was a prominent reactionary politician in Australia around the turn of the century.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bullocky Oh


I draw for Speckle's Mill, bullocky oh, bullocky oh
And it's many a log I drew, bullocky oh
I draw cedar, beech and pine, and I never get on the wine
I'm the king of bullock drivers, don't you know, bullocky oh

I'm the king of bullock drivers, bullocky oh

There's Guinea and Anderson too, bullocky oh, bullocky oh
And it's many a log they drew, bullocky oh
I can give them a thousand feet, axe 'em square and never cheat
I'm the king of bullock drivers, don't you know, bullocky oh

There's Wapples, too: he brags, bullocky oh bullocky oh
Of his forty raw-boned stags, bullocky oh
I can tell you it's no slander when I say I raise their dander
When they hear the crack of me whip, bullocky oh, bullocky oh

I draw for Speckle's Mill, bullocky oh, bullocky oh
And it's many a log I drew, bullocky oh
I draw cedar, beech and pine, and I never get on the wine
I'm the king of bullock drivers, don't you know, bullocky oh

From the Queensland Centenary Pocket Songbook.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Song of Artesian Water

Words: AB Paterson
Tune: The Overlanders

Now the stock have started dying, for the Lord has sent a drought
But we're sick of prayers and Providence---we're going to do without
With the derricks up above us and the solid earth below
We are waiting at the lever for the word to let her go.

Sinking down, deeper down,
Yes, we'll find artesian water deeper down
Sinking down, deeper down,
Yes, we'll find artesian water deeper down

Now our engine's built in Glasgow by a very canny Scot
And he marked it twenty horse-power, but he don't what is what
When Canada Bill is firing with the sun-dried gidgee logs
She can equal thirty horses and a score or so of dogs

But the shaft has started caving and the sinking's very slow
And the yellow rods are bending in the water down below
And the tubes are always jamming, and they can't be made to shift
Till we nearly burst the engine with a forty horse-power lift

But there's no artesian water, though we've passed three thousand feet
And the contract price is growing, and the boss is nearly beat
But it must be down beneath us, and it's down we've got to go
Though she's bumping on the solid rock four thousand feet below

But it's hark! the whistle's blowing with a wild, exultant blast
And the boys are madly cheering, for they've struck the flow at last
And it's rushing up the tubing from four thousand feet below
Till it spouts above the casing in a million-gallon flow

And it's clear away the timber, and it's let the water run
How it glimmers in the shadow, how it flashes in the sun!
By the silent belts of timber, by the miles of blazing plain
It is bringing hope and comfort to the thirsty land again

An abridged poem by Banjo Paterson, from the 1978 album, Songs of the Great Australian Balladists.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lasseter's Last Ride


The boss was signing shearers on, around our Union floor
The day that sunburnt stranger came to old John Bailey's door;
A strong and silent man he stood and then his waiting done,
He spoke of riches, wealth and gold, beyond the setting sun.

Lasseter's gold, wealth untold, Lasseter's last ride!
Lasseter's gold, wealth untold, Lasseter's last ride!

The man who found that fabled reef, a man from death returned,
Yet deep inside each hearer's heart the lost bonanza burned;
The call was heard in home and hut to draw Australia's best,
A band of bushmen, near and far, to join that golden quest.

From Alice Springs they set their star, to far Ilbilba's well,
By leagues of barren sandy waste undreamt of yet in hell;
Beyond that native camping ground, Kaditcha demons moan,
And on the burning desert face a man went on alone.

Beneath his blind and searing soul the afghan camel strode-
A headlong rider, bent on hell, to make that mightly lode;
A great new golden state he saw beneath the inland sky,
But fortune fell and fate at last she left him there to die.

The desert breezes moan and mourn, the dingoes nightly wail,
And often in that lonely land the misted moon is pale;
Then on that grey and ghostly waste, along the trail of old,
A haunted rider plunges by, to reach his reef of gold.

Harold Bell Lasseter revealed to the world in 1929 that in the late nineteenth century, when he was a young man, he discovered a massive gold reef in a remote part of Western Australia. He spent much of his life trying to raise money to mount expeditions to find it again. This song comes from the Wildflower Songsheet of Australian Ballads, and undated folio printed in Western Australia by Imperial Printing Co Pty Ltd.

A more detailed examination of Lasseter's Reef can be found on the Gold Net Australia site.

The illustration for this post is a photograph of Lasseter's grave. The words on the plaque are from Theodore Roosevelt.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Flash Stockman


I'm a stockman to me trade and I call me Ugly Dave,
I'm old and grey and only got one eye.
In the yard I'm good, of course, but just put me on a horse
I'll go where lots of young 'uns daren't try.

I've lead 'em through the gidgee over country rough and ridgy,
I'll loose them in the very worst of scrub.
I can ride both rough and easy, with a brumby I'm a daisy,
And a rightdown bobby-dazzler in a pub.

Just watch me use the whip, I can give the dawdlers gyp,
I can make the flamin' echoes roar and ring.
With a branding-iron, well, I'm a perfect flamin' swell,
In fact I'm duke of every blasted thing.

To watch me skin a sheep, it's so perfect you could weep,
I can act the silvertail as if my blood was blue.
You could strike me pink or dead, if I stood upon me head,
I'd be just as good as any other two.

I've a notion in me pate that it's luck, it isn't fate,
That I'm so far above the common run.
So, for ev'rything I do, you could cut me square in two
For I'm much two flamin' good to be in one.

Closely related to The Woolloomooloo Lair, The Flash Stockman was published in 1895 in the Queenslander. These lyrics are the Martin Wyndham-Read version.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Big Fish in Brisbane Waters


I was fishing Brisbane Waters -
With a line tied to my toe
Like the whalers used to do it
On the Murray years ago.

When I quickly hooked a big un
But he struck with such a dash
That he pulled me in the water
With a great resounding splash

I tried hard to cut the painter
But the pace was on that fast
All my sins loomed up before me
That had piled up in the past

So I did some rapid thinking
For my chances they were slim
But I quickly overtook him
Once I started out to swim

In an instant I had caught him
And I don't know how I stuck
But I rode him like the winner
Of the famous Mulga Cup

When at last I tried to land him
All my efforts were in vain
So I hitched him to a wharf-pile
While I went and hired a crane

When at last I got him loaded
And all ready for the track
He broke down the semi-trailer
So I had to throw him back.

From Singabout, 1961, Volume 4, Number 2:

"Ironbark" of Ettalong, who gave us this ballad of his own writing, said that if he'd caught the famous bream of Anson's Bay, he'd have thrown it back as undersized! This will fit to quite a few bush ballad tunes if you want to sing it. You try!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bound for South Australia


In South Australia I was born!
Heave away! Haul away!
South Australia round Cape Horn!
We're bound for South Australia!

Heave away, you rolling kings,
Heave away! Haul away!
Heave away you'll hear me sing
We're bound for South Australia!

As I walked out one morning fair,
It's there I met Miss Nancy Blair.

I shook her up, I shook her down,
I shook her round and round the town.

There ain't but one thing grieves my mind,
It's to leave Miss Nancy Blair behind.

And as you wallop round Cape Horn,
You'll wish to Christ you'd never been born!

Up the coast to Vallipo,
Northward on to Callao.

It's back again to Liverpool,
I spent me pay like a bloody fool!

I'm Liverpool born and Liverpool bred,
Long in the arm and thick in the head.

Oh, rock and roll me over boys,
Let's get this damn job over boys.

Of the many available versions of this very popular song, I have chosen that posted on Mudcat. (I figured there was no way I'd pick a version that satisfied everybody and so I took the easy way out). Harmonies on this version were performed by a fortuitous coming together of houseguests: George and Vanessa Papavgeris, Vicki Swan, Jonny Dyer, Nicole Murray and Keith Urquhart's voices can all be heard.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Ballad of 1891

Words: Helen Palmer
Music: Doreen Jacobs

The price of wool was falling in 1891
The men who owned the acres saw something must be done
"We will break the Shearers' Union, and show we're masters still
And they'll take the terms we give them, or we'll find the ones who will"

From Claremont to Barcaldine, the shearers' camps were full
Ten thousand blades were ready to strip the greasy wool
When through the west like thunder, rang out the Union's call
"The sheds'll be shore Union or they won't be shorn at all"

Oh, Billy Lane was with them, his words were like a flame
The flag of blue above them, they spoke Eureka's name
"Tomorrow," said the squatters, "they'll find it does not pay
We're bringing up free labourers to get the clip away"

"Tomorrow," said the shearers, "they may not be so keen
We can mount three thousand horses, to show them what we mean"
"Then we'll pack the west with troopers, from Bourke to Charters Towers
You can have your fill of speeches but the final strength is ours"

"Be damned to your six-shooters, your troopers and police
The sheep are growing heavy, the burr is in the fleece"
"Then if Nordenfeldt and Gatling won't bring you to your knees
We'll find a law," the squatters said, "that's made for times like these"

To trial at Rockhampton the fourteen men were brought
The judge had got his orders, the squatters owned the court
But for every one that's sentenced, ten thousand won't forget
Where they jail a man for striking, it's a rich man's country yet

A powerful and much-loved Australian song. There is an excellent first-hand account of the writing of this piece on the Ozleft Forum, Birth of An Old Bush Ballad.

The 1891 Shearers Strike was one of the defining events of Australian early political history. A summary can be found here.

It is hard to imagine now the strength of feeling that this dispute produced. Here are the closing words of the 21 February, 1891 editorial from the Australian Republican, a Charters Towers newspaper:

If your oppressors will not listen to reason, let them feel cold lead and steel: as they have starved you, so do you shoot them; and allow them not to destroy your liberties and deprive you of your bread without a fight. Better to see the last squatter and the last member of this hateful Government butchered than to see one jot or one tittle of the sacred rights of the people lost.

The illustration is a photograph of Townsville Mounted Infantry in Hughenden in Qld during the strike.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bump Me Into Parliament

Words: Bill Casey
Tune: Yankee Doodle

Come listen all kind friends of mine
I want to move a motion
To make an Eldorado here
I've got a bonza notion

Bump me into parliament
Bounce me any way at all
Bang me into parliament
On next election day

Some very wealthy friends I know
Declare I am most clever
While some can talk for an hour or so
Why I can talk for ever

I've read my bible ten times o'er
And Jesus justifies me
The man who does not vote for me
By Christ he crucifies me

Oh yes I am a Labor man
I believe in revolution
The quickest way to bring it on
Is talking constitution

I think the worker and the boss
Should keep their present stations
So I will surely pass a bill
'Industrial Relations'

Written by Bill Casey, a member of the International Workers of the World who later became president of the Queensland branch of the Seamans Union of Australia.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Border Fence


I work on the border fence, a boundary rider's mission
And you should see the old Dodge and me when her engine starts a-missin'
I wind and crank all day, to get her on her way,
but the damned old thing, she needs new rings and valves ground all her way

And the station owners say, they can get no sleep
Instead they're chasing dingoes that are killing lots of sheep
They brag about the holes they find, where the dogs just gallop through
Then go to report to the Sydney heads and half of its not true

You get no flaming meat, depend on myxo rabbits
A knagaroo, a g'lah or two, or a snake if you can grab it.
But we are paid so well, or that what the big boys think.
But they way they treat the border boys, I reckon that the whole show stinks.

You'll never keep the dingo out, it's fifty that I'm betting
For every time he strikes a fence he'll pull and chew the netting
Until he makes a hole to squeeze his carcass through
Then he howls all night in New South Wales, "I've got the best of you"

Mister Commissioner you're the trump of the Western lands
Supply the boys a four wheel drive to pull through the drifting sands
An extra 44 each month, a quid or two more pay
We'd feel relief, and banish grief and work like mad each day.

Another from the October 1964 edition of Singabout:

This song was collected by Glen Hamilton from an unknown person who was born in 1927. He has wandered about the bush, droving, fencing, wood-cutting, tank sinking etc, and first started to write songs when his girl friend shot-off with his best mate. This is sung to a tune popular a few years ago, "She Wore Red Feathers And A Hula-Hula Skirt".

The illustration to this post is Lionel Lindsay's The Border Rider's Home.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Irishman's Song


Sure it's just about ten years ago as near as I can tell
Since I packed up all my traps and bid my friends at home farewell,
For I'm off to Australia to see my brother Jack,
And if there's any chance out there, I'll not be coming back.

All I possessed was ninepence and a dirty one pound note
When I paid my fare and wrote to Jack to meet me at the boat
When I got there my brother Jack and half a dozen more
Were waving hats and handkerchiefs before I got on shore

Sure I got a hearty welcome the moment I did land
Saying, "God bless you ,Barney" with outstretched hand.
And then, to make me welcome for the remainder of the day
We sampled Irish whiskey in the pub along the way.

We soon knocked all the stuffing out of my dirty one pound note
And Sullivan to keep it up went out and pawned his coat
We swallowed that and other things till ten o'clock that night
And every mother's son of us got roaring blessed tight.

Next day I put the plug in, I went a job to seek
I got work at the gas works at thirty bob a week
In a month they made me ganger, and now I'm overseer
And I think I'll own the gasworks in about another year.

Now Jack and all the other boys are working under me
So now it doesn't become me to go with me on a spree
But I go to private bars where I can quench my thirst
And I'll never forget the fun we had the day I landed first

And now I settled down and taken myself a wife
I have a little family, so I'll be here for life
And when I think of that meeting, with pleasure I recall
That Irishmen throughout the world are brothers after all.

From Singabout, Volume 5, Number 2, October, 1964.

Duke Tritton's note on "The Irishman's Song": "Was travelling with a mob of sheep form Peak Hill to Coolah in 1910. There were five in the team, Billy McBeth, the boss drover, Tim and Tiger Schurr, Joe Goodman and myself. All were good mates and all could sing a fair song, and we all learned to roar it around the campfire. Three years ago I met Joe Goodman again, and he recalled the song to my mind, and we sang it in memory of our three mates who had passed on."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sergeant Small

Tex Morton, Brad Tate, Terry Boylan

went broke in western Queensland in Nineteen Thirty One
Nobody would employ me so my swag carrying begun
I came down into Charleville through all the western towns
I was on my way to Roma destination Darling Downs

My pants were getting ragged my boots were getting thin
But when I stopped at Mitchell a goods train shunted in
I heard the whistle blowing and looking out could see
She was on her way to Roma it was quite plain to me

I wish I was about twenty stone only seven feet tall
I'd go back to western Queensland and beat up Sergeant Small

Now as I sat and watched her inspiration's seed was sown
I remembered the Government slogan: Here's the railway that you own
By this time the sun was setting and the night was getting nigh
So I gathered my belongings and took her on the fly

When we got into Roma I kept my head down low
I heard a voice say "Any room Mate?" I answered "Plenty Bo"
"Come out of there my noble man" came the voice of Sergeant Small
"I have trapped you very nicely - you've ridden for a fall"

The judge was very kind to me he gave me thirty days
Saying "Maybe this will help to cure your rattler jumping ways"
So if you're down and outback boys I'll tell you what I think
Stay off those Queensland goods trains they're a short cut to the clink

These notes from the Australian Folk and Bush Music and Musicians:

Sergeant Small aka Down and Outback may not be so well known. Sergeant Small was a well-known police officer stationed at Roma in south-west Queensland. In the depression years, many men on the dole were obliged to travel the country searching for work as they had to collect their dole from different locations. With virtually no money, there were really only two ways to effect this travel - by walking or jumping a freight train. The railways tended to resent the second option and there was a constant effort by both the state police and the railway police to deter these free travelling swagmen or bagmen as they were sometimes called. Their usual technique was to intermittently board and comprehensively search trains. Sometimes the swagmen were arrested and other times they would be forced off the train in remote areas.

Sergeant Small developed a cunning approach. He would kit himself out as a bagman trying to find some space on a goods train for himself and he'd surreptitiously approach each carriage and ask if there was any room inside and many a concealed bagman would answer back and thus give himself up.

In 1938, the very talented New Zealand country and western singer then in Australia, Tex Morton, decided to write a song about Sergeant Small and it got a lot of airplay. Unfortunately, Sergeant Small took exception to this and his threats to sue resulted in the song being withdrawn from both broadcast and sale. Later, one Brad Tate amalgamated Tex's song with a poem with a similar theme by a Terry Boylan to produce, intentionally or otherwise, a much more folky feel and I suspect that the German Language version here arises out of the later version.

Sergeant Small has also been performed by others including the Irish group Patrick Street in "On the Fly" and the Australian rock group Weddings Parties Anything.

Here is the orginal from Tex Morton:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ye Sons of Australia


Ye sons of Australia forget not your braves,
Bring the wild forest flowers to strew o'er your graves.
Of the four daring outlaws whose race it is run,
And place on their tombs the wild laurels they've won.

On the banks of Euroa they made their first rush,
They cleared out at Coppies, then steered through the bush,
Black trackers and troopers soon did them pursue
But cast out their anchor when near them they drew.

The daring Kate Kelly how noble her mien
As she sat on her horse like an Amazon queen,
She rode through the forest revolver at hand,
Regardless of danger, who dare bid her stand.

May the angels protect this young heroine bold
And her name be recorded in letters of gold,
Though her brothers were outlaws, she loved them most dear,
And hastened to tell them when danger was near.

But the great God of Mercy who scans all out ways
Commanded grim death to shorten their days.
Straightway to Glenrowan their course he did steer
To slay those bold outlaws and stop their career.

The daring Ned Kelly came forth from the inn,
To wreak his last vengeance he then did begin,
To slaughter the troopers straightway he did go,
And tore up the railway their train to o'erthrow.

But the great God of Mercy, to baulk his intent,
And stop the destruction, a messenger sent,
A person named Curnow, who seemed in great dread,
Cried out to the troopers, 'There's danger ahead!'

But Time hath its changes; how dreadful their fate.
They found out their error when it was too late,
The house was surrounded by troopers two-score,
And also expected a great many more.

The daring Ned Kelly, revolver in hand,
Came to the verandah, the troopers he scanned,
Said he "You curs'd wretches, we do you defy,
We will not surrender, we conquer or die."

Like the free sons of Ishmael, brought up in the wilds,
Amongst forests and mountains, and rocky defiles
These brave lawless fellows could not be controlled,
And fought ten to one, until death we are told.

Next day at Glenrowan, how dreadful the doom,
Of Hart and Dan Kelly shut up in a room,
A trooper named Johnson, set the house all aflame
To burn those bold outlaws, it was a great shame

The daring Kate Kelly came forth from the crowd
And on her poor brother she called out aloud,
"Come forth my dear brother, and fight while you can"
But a ball had just taken the life of poor Dan.

Next morning our hero came forth from the bush
Encased in strong armour his way did he push.
To gain his bold comrades it was his desire -
The troopers espied him, and soon opened fire.

The bullets bound off him just like a stone wall,
His fiendish appearance soon did them appal.
His legs unprotected a trooper soon found,
And a shot well directed brought him to the ground.

Now he arose captured, and stripped off his mail,
Well guarded by troopers and taken to gaol.
Convicted for murder, it grieved him full sore,
His friends and relations his fate may deplore.

Now, all you young fellows take warning by me,
Beware of bushranging, and bad company,
For like many others you may feel the dart
Which pierced the two Kellys, Joe Byrne, and Steve Hart.

From Stewart & Keesing's Australian Bush Ballads. Another version of the same poem, entitled "Ye sons of Australia, forget not your braves" appeared in John Meredith's Six Authentic Songs from the Kelly Country (Sydney, 1955) with the attribution "First published by "The Bulletin", and acknowledgement was made to "Mrs Gladys Scrivener, Erskineville (NSW) for the tune, and Mr J.K.Moir, Melbourne, for the words". The tune is also attributed to Gladys Scrivener in Authentic Australian Bush Ballads, edited by John Meredith and Alan Scott "for the Bush Music Club", published by the Southern Music Publishing Company in 1960.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Woolloomoolloo Lair


On the day that I was born, it was a cold & a frosty morn,
In the famous suburb known as Woolloomooloo.
It was down in Riley Street my folks first heard me bleat
'Cause at the time I'd nothing else to do.
Oh me mother died of fright when she saw me in the light
And my father thought he'd send me to the zoo,
But I owe a lot to him, 'cause he taught me how to swim,
When he heaved me off the pier at Woolloomooloo

Oh my name it is McCarty & I'm a rorty party
I'm rough & tough as an old man kangaroo
Some people say I'm crazy, I don't work because I'm lazy
And I tag along in the boozing throng, the Push from Woolloomooloo.

And when I was just a lad I went straight'way to the bad
A larrikin so hard, you'd strike me blue
But the government was kind and they didn't seem to mind
And in Darlinghurst I spent a night or two.
Now the judge gave me a stare and he said, "You're a lair"
They heaved me into Darlinghurst gaol - you understand
They gave me clothes, they cut my hair, I didn't seem to care
And every night you'd find me in the van.

And I spent some years in gaol till I began to quail
I resolved to live upon a different lay
And enlisted in the ranks of the Salvation Army 'cranks'
You can bet I made the bloody business pay!
Well hallelujah! I'm a lout I knows me way about
I kids the mugs that I'm converted too
All the lassies there I mash and I'm never short of cash
'Cause I beats me drum all over Woolloomooloo.

A bush-band favourite. You will find a lengthy discussion of this and some related songs on Mudcat.

I busked with a group called Contraband in Brisbane in the 1980s and this was a must.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Old Black Billy

Words: Edward Harrington.
Music. Traditional

I've humped my bluey in all the states
With my old black billy the best of mates;
For years I've camped and toiled and tramped
Over roads that are rough and hilly;
with my highly senible indispensable,
Old Black Billy

My old black billy, my old black billy;
whe-ther the wind is warm or chilly,
I al-ways find when shadows fall,
My old black bill-y's the best mate of all!

I've carried my swag on the parched Paroo,
Where water is scarce and the houses few:
On many a track on the great outback,
Where the heat would drive you silly;
I've carried my sensible, indispensable,
Old Black billy.

When my tramping days are o'er.
And I drop my swag at the Golden Door,
Saint Peter will stare when he sees me there,
Then he'll say, "Poor wandering Willie,
Come in with your sensible, indispensable,
Old Black Billy."

This song has been included at the request of Jane Harding. I was't familiar with and so was thankful to find a clip online of Bert Gibson singing the song at Nariel Creek (

Bob Bolton had this to say on the Mudcat thread about this song:

The song was a favourite in Reedy River, Dick Diamond's 1953 play about the aftermath of the great Shearers' Strike of 1891.

In the accompanying song book the note says " This version was collected from a shearer in Melbourne, and after it had been used in "Reedy River" for some time, the original published work by Edward Harrington to Roy Jeffries' tune was discovered.

The credits are then given as:
Words: Edward Harrington. Music. Traditional

For Wikipedia's take on the Billy, follow this link.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Where's Your License?

Charles Thatcher

The morning was fine,
The sun brightly did shine
The diggers were working away
When the inspector of traps
Said now my fine chaps
We'll go license hunting today
Some went this way, some that
Some to Bendigo Flat
And a lot to the White Hills did tramp
Whilst others did bear
Up towards Golden Square
And the rest of them kept round the camp

Each turned his eye
To the holes close by
Expecting on some down to drop
But not one could they nail
For they'd give 'em leg bail
Diggers aren't often caught on the hop
The little word Joe
That most of you know
Is a signal the traps are quite near
Made them all cut their sticks
And they hooked it like bricks
I believe you, my boys, no fear

Now a tall, ugly trap
He espied a young chap
Up the gully a-cutting like fun
So he quickly gave chase,
But 'twas a hard race,
For mind you, the digger could run
Down the hole he id pop
While the bobby up top
Says - "just come up", shaking his staff
"Young man of the crosn.
If yer wants me come down,
For I'm not to be caught with such chaff.

Of course you'd have thought
The sly fox he'd have caught
By lugging him out of the hole;
But this crusher no fear
Quite scorned the idea,
Of burrowing the earth like a mole;
But wiser by hald
He put by his staff
And as onward he went sung he-
"When a cove's down a drive,
Whether dead or alive,
He may stay till doomsday for me."

From the Victorian Songster of 1855 by Charles Thatcher, a fascinating character of his time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Palm Island/Mulrunji was his name

John Thompson

Palm Island is a paradise
Green jewel in blue ocean
On Palm Island a young man died
Mulrunji was his name

The police, they took a man away
Green jewel in blue ocean
That young man he died that day
Mulrunji was his name

Broken body on the watchhouse floor
Green jewel in blue ocean
A place that he'd not been before
Mulrunji was his name

Seargent Hurley beat him, now he's dead
Green jewel in blue ocean
"Do you want some more?" the seargent said
Mulrunji was his name

No policeman need go to court
Green jewel in blue ocean
White man's freedom with black blood bought
Mulrunji was his name

It was an accident, no-one's to blame
Green jewel in blue ocean
If that's the judgement, we wear the shame
Mulrunji was his name

The men of Palm are dying yet
Green jewel in blue ocean
Until there's justice, we mustn't forget
Mulrunji was his name

Palm Island is a paradise
Green jewel in blue ocean
On Palm Island a young man died
Mulrunji was his name

Palm Island is a paradise
Green jewel in blue ocean
On Palm Island too many die
Mulrunji was his name

A death in custody in 2004 led to the first ever trial of a white policeman over the death of a black man in a cell in Queensland history. After a week long trial, the Sergent Hurley was acquitted.

There were disputes between police and family regarding the events which led to the death. Undisputed was the fact of the dead man in the cell, his liver all but torn in two, the force "like that seen after a car accident" according to one medical witness. The riot which followed saw police swarm over Palm Island, a blighted tropical paradise off Townsville, the police station burnt down, one man convicted of riot, and ultimately, on the day the first inquest report was released, the police officers on the island at the time receiving bravery awards from the commissioner.

The legal battles continue over whether the first coroner's report should stand, in which she said:

"I find that Senior Sergeant Hurley hit Mulrunji whilst he was on the floor a number of times in a
direct response to himself having been hit in the jaw and then falling to the floor...

I conclude that these actions of Senior Sergeant Hurley caused the fatal injuries."

The first officers on the scene were known to Sergeant Hurley. On their first night on Palm Island (before their investigation began) they joined him for dinner.

Their investigation found no wrong-doing.

(the original coroner's report was overturned on appeal, a second enquiry being ordered)

The Crime and Misconduct Commission site includes full source documents and a timeline of events which ultimately led to the acquittal of the officer involved in the death of this man, and the decision that no police officer should be disciplined as a result of the events leading to and following Mulrunji's death.

Note: Between 1992 and 1997 I worked with the Legal Aid Office in Townsville, work which took me to Palm Island occasionally. It is a beautiful place with a sad history (link). In 2007 I observed the trial of Sergeant Hurley which led to his acquittal.

Andy's Gone With Cattle

Words: Henry Lawson
Tune: Traditional

Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's gone with cattle now
Across the Queensland border.

He's left us in dejection now;
Our hearts with him are roving.
It's dull on this selection now,
Since Andy went a-droving.

Who now shall wear the cheerful face
In times when things are slackest?
And who shall whistle round the place
When Fortune frowns her blackest?

Oh, who shall cheek the squatter now
When he comes round us snarling?
His tongue is growing hotter now
Since Andy cross'd the Darling.

The gates are out of order now,
In storms the "riders" rattle;
For far across the border now
Our Andy's gone with cattle.

Poor Aunty's looking thin and white;
And Uncle's cross with worry;
And poor old Blucher howls all night
Since Andy left Macquarie.

Oh, may the showers in torrents fall,
And all the tanks run over;
And may the grass grow green and tall
In pathways of the drover;

And may good angels send the rain
On desert stretches sandy;
And when the summer comes again
God grant 'twill bring us Andy.

Another from the pen of the great Henry Lawson. Set to many tunes, this arrangement uses the tune collected by John Manifold.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Burke & Wills


When Burke and Wills left Melbourne, ten thousand came to see
The flags were flying gaily, the wind was fresh and free
Their bold and daring leader rode bravely on before,
When Burke and Wills left Melbourne town, up-country to explore
When Burke and Wills left Melbourne town, up-country to explore

Way out on hells horizon where desert demons wail,
The horses and the camels fell back along the trail
Through tribal land forbidden, two men along, they won,
The Gulf of Carpentaria lay shining in the sun
The Gulf of Carpentaria lay shining in the sun

To drought and desolation they staggered in return
By jagged hills and gullies where arid acres burn
Their feet could barely falter, their tongues could hardly speak
Too late, alas, by half a day they came to Cooper's Creek
Too late, alas, by half a day they came to Cooper's Creek

Starvation, gaunt and bitter, now stood at every hand
The sun drank all the water and shimmered in the sand;
Mount Hopeless raised a finger and beckoned in the sky
For Burke and Wills their time had come to perish there and die
For Burke and Wills their time had come to perish there and die

Let legend tell the story of gallant men and bold
Who braved the great unconquered in dashing of old
Where lonely lies the wasteland beyong the purple hills,
The dingoes of the desert know the fate of Burke and Wills
The dingoes of the desert know the fate of Burke and Wills

From the Wildflower Songsheet of Australian Ballads. Burke and Wills were arguably Australia's most famous inland explorers. For more information on their expeditions, visit the Burke and Wills Online Digital Archive.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lime Juice Tub


When shearing comes lay down your drums
Step on the board you brand new chums
With a ra-dum ra-dum rub-a-dub-dub
Send him home in a lime juice tub

Chorus (optional)
Here we are in New South Wales
Shearing the sheep as big as whales
With leather necks and daggy tails
And hides as tough as rusty nails

Now you have crossed the briny deep
You fancy you can shear a sheep
With a ra-dum ra-dum rub-a-dub-dub
We'll send you home in lime juice tub

There's brand new chums and cockies sons
They fancy that they are great guns
They fancy they can shear the wool
But the buggers can only tear and pull

They tar the sheep till they're nearly black
Roll up roll up and get the sack
Once more we're away on the Wallaby Track
Once more to look for the shearing oh

The very next job they undertake
Is to press the wool but they make a mistake
They press the wool without any bales
Shearing's hell in New South Wales

And when they meet upon the road
From off their backs throw down their load
And at the sun they'll take a look
Saying I reckon it's time to breast the cook

We camp in huts without any doors
Sleep upon the muddy floors
With a pannikin of flour and a sheet of bark
To wallop up a damper in the dark

Its home its home I'd like to be
Not humping my drum in this country
Its sixteen thousand mile I've come
To march along with the blanket drum

Lyrics from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Song site. Recorded by AL Lloyd on his Australian Bush Songsalbum in 1956.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Kelly Gang

Words: Traditional
Tune: The Wearing of the Green

Oh, Paddy dear, and did you hear the news that's going round
On the head of bold Ned Kelly, they have placed two thousand pound
And on Steve Hart, Joe Byrne and Dan, two thousand more they'll give
But if the sum was doubled, boys, the Kelly gang would live.

'Twas in November, 78 when the Kelly Gang came down
Just after shooting Kennedy, to famed Euroa town:
To rob the bank of all it's gold was their idea that day,
Blood horses they were mounted on to make their getaway.

Ned Kelly marched into the bank, a cheque all in his hand,
For to have it changed for money then of Scott he did demand,
And when that he refused him, he, looking at him straight,
Said, "See here, my name's Ned Kelly, and this here man's my mate.

The safe was quickly gutted then, the drawers turned out as well,
The Kellys being quite polite, like any noble swell.
With flimsies, gold and silver coin, the threepennies and all,
Amounting to two thousand pounds, they made a glorious haul.

"Now hand out all your firearms", the robber boldly said,
And all your ammunition - or a bullet through your head.
Now get your wife and children - come man, now look alive,
All jump into this buggy and we'll take you for a drive"

They took them to a station about three miles away,
And kept them close imprisoned there until the following day.
The owner of the station and those in his employ
And a few unwary travellers their company did enjoy.

And Indian hawker fell in too, as everybody knows.
He came in handy to the gang by fitting them with clothes
Then with their worn-out clothing they made a few bonfires
And then destroyed the telegraph by cutting down the wires.

They rode into Jerilderie town at twelve o'clock at night,
Aroused the troopers from their beds, and gave them an awful fright.
They took them in their night shirts, ashamed I am to tell,
They covered them with revolvers and they locked them in a cell.

They next acquainted the womenfolk that they were going to stay
And take possession of the camp until the following day
They fed their horses in the stalls without the slightest fear,
They went to rest their weary limbs til daylight did appear.

They spent the day most pleasantly, had plenty of good cheer,
Fried beefsteak and onions, tomato sauce and beer,
The ladies in attendance indulged in pleasant talk,
And just to ease the troopers minds, they took them for a walk.

On Monday morning early, still masters of the ground,
They took their horses to the forge and had them shod all round.
Then back they came and mounted, their plans they laid so well,
In company with the troopers they stuck up the Royal Hotel.

They bailed up all the occupants and placed them in a room,
Saying, "Do as we command you, or death will be your doom"
A Chinese cook, "No savvy!" cried, not knowing what to fear,
But they brought him to his senses with a lift under the ear.

All who now approached the house, they shared a similar fate,
In hardly any time at all, they numbered twenty-eight.
They shouted freely for all hands, and paid for what they drank,
And two of them remained in charge, while two went to the bank.

The farce was here repeated, as I've already told,
They bailed up all the banker's clerks and robbed them of their gold.
The manager could not be found and Kelly, in great wrath,
Searched high and low, and luckily, he found him in his bath.

The robbery o'er they mounted then to make a quick retreat,
They swept away with all their loot by Morgan's ancient beat
And where they've gone, I do not know. If I did, I wouldn't tell
So now, until I hear from them, I bid you all farewell.

Another song of the history of Australia's most famous bushranger, Edward (Ned) Kelly. More detail of the events recounted in this song can be found on the Australian Dictionary of Biography site. It was after robbing the bank at Jerilderie that Ned wrote his famous "Jerilderie Letter" justifying his conduct.

Also known as The Kellys, Byrne and Hart, this is a (slightly) abridged version of that found in Stewart & Keesing's Australian Bush Ballads.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where The Brumbies Come To Water


There's a lonely grave half hidden where the blue-grass droops above,
And the slab is rough that marks it, but we planted it for love;
There's a well-worn saddle hanging in the harness-room at home
And a good old stock-horse waiting for the steps that never come;
There's a mourning rank of riders closing in on either hand
O'er the vacant place he left us -- he, the best of all the band,
Who is lying cold and silent with his hoarded hopes unwon
Where the brumbies come to water at the setting of the sun.

Some other mate with rougher touch will twist our greenhide thongs,
And round the fire some harsher voice will sing his lilting songs;
His dog will lick some other hand, and when the wild mob swings
We'll get some slower rider to replace him in the wings;
His horse will find a master new ere twice the sun goes down,
But who will kiss his light-o'-love a-weeping in the town? --
His light-o'-love who kneels at night beyond the long lagoon
Where the brumbies come to water at the rising of the moon.

We've called her hard and bitter names who chose -- another's wife --
To chain our comrade in her thrall and wreck his strong young life;
We've cursed her for her cruel love that seared like hate -- and yet
We know when all is over there is one will no forget,
As she piles the white bush blossoms where her poor lost lover lies
With the death-dew on his forehead and the grave-dark in his eyes,
Where the shadow-line is broken by the moonbeam's silver bars,
And the brumbies come to water at the lightning of the stars.

Ron Edwards collected a variation of this song with a tune based on The Wild Colonial Boy. I have used a variation of the tune sung by Martin Wyndham-Read. This version also uses the original words by Ogilvie from his Fair Girls and Gray Horses collection.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Shearer's Dream

Words: Trad (?)
Music: AL Lloyd

O I dreamt I shore in a shearing shed and it was a dream of joy
For every one of the rouseabouts was a girl dressed up as a boy
Dressed up like a page in a pantomime the prettiest ever seen
They had flaxen hair they had coal black hair and every shade between

There was short plump girls there was tall slim girls and the handsomest ever seen
They was four foot five they was six foot high and every shade between

The shed was cooled by electric fans that was over every shoot
The pens was of polished mahogany and everything else to suit
The huts had springs to the mattresses and the tucker was simply grand
And every night by the billabong we danced to a German band

Our pay was the wool on the jumbucks' backs so we shore till all was blue
The sheep was washed afore they was shore and the rams were scented too
And we all of us cried when the shed cut out in spite of the long hot days
For every hour them girls waltzed in with whisky and beer on trays

There was three of them girls to every chap and as jealous as they could be
There was three of them girls to every chap and six of them picked on me
We was drafting them out for the homeward track and sharing them round like steam
When I woke with my head in the blazing sun to find it a shearer's dream

From the "Old Bush Songs" album. (This link has some brief biographical notes on AL Lloyd as well).

The origins of this one are a little uncertain. This note is from the Mainly Norfolk site:

This song was first published in Children of the Bush in 1902. It is usually attributed to Henry Lawson and appears in most collections of the poet, however when John Meredith collected a version from Charles Ayger in 1957, he claimed to have heard it at school when Lawson would have been about nineteen. The tune is from A.L. Lloyd, who based it on The Girl I Left Behind.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Drover's Dream


One night when travelling sheep, all my mates they were asleep
The stars and moon illumined the summer sky
My eyes they'd hardly closed, in fact I must have dozed
When a very strange procession passed me by
First there came a kangaroo, with his swag of blankets blue
A dingo likewise followed for a mate
While a possum and a crow said, "Come on, we'd better go,
And hurry up before it gets too late."

The goanna and the snake and the adder wide awake
Struck up "The Old Log Cabin in the Dell"
Then a parrot green and blue sang, "A Doodle, Doodle, Doo"
And a platypus clattered with the bells
A fox he came along and he sang a comic song
And the audience gave a hearty cheer
Then a big white cockatoo and a brolga dressed in blue
Sang some songs we hadn't heard for many a year.

A pretty young galah played upon a steel guitar
With twenty magpies dancing all the while
Some plovers flew around to investigate the sound
And a frill-necked lizard listened with a smile.
A little bower bird said he'd like to have a word
And whistled off "When Coming Through the Rye"
Then a great big eagle hawk let out an awful squawk,
As he swooped down from his place up in the sky.

Three frogs from out the swamp, where the atmosphere is damp
Came creeping up and sat upon some stones
They unrolled their little swags and took from out their bags
The violin, the banjo and the bones
The sweet young bandicoot played a tune upon his flute
Three native bears came in and formed a ring
The pelican and the crane, they came in from off the plain
And amused the audience with the Highland Fling

A porcupine came along and he sang a comic song
And a wombat played upon a mandolin
While an emu standing near with his claw up to his ear
Said it was the finest thing he'd ever seen.
Then there came an awful crash as if creation had gone smash
And waking found that I had been asleep
For the Boss behind the cart awoke me with a start
Shouting, "Murphy, where the dickens are the sheep?"

A popular song across Australia in it's day. This version collected by Ron Edwards from Mick Dolan (b. 1895). The tune is a variation of Killaloe, which is also the regimental quick march of the Royal Irish Regiment. (Follow this link for a fairly startling rendition.)

The illustration for this post is by Deborah Niland from her 1979 book, The Drover's Dream