Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From the Lambing To The Wool

Judy Small


My father was a cocky as his father was before him
And I married me a cocky nearly fifty years ago
And I've lived here on this station and I've seen the seasons changing
From the drought round to the flooding, from the lambing to the wool

And there've been times when I've wondered
If it all was worth the doing
And there've been times when I've thought
This was the finest place there is
For though the life here's never easy
And the hours are long and heavy
I'm quite contented nowadays
To have joined my life to his

Together through the thirties while others' lives were broken
We worked from dawn to twilight to hold on to what was ours
And at night we'd sit exhausted and I'd stroke his dusty forehead
With him too tired to talk to me and me too tired to care

Then the children came unbidden bringing laughter to the homestead
And I thanked the Lord my sons were young, too young for battle then
And I counted myself lucky to lose no one close to family
Though the neighbours lost their only son, sold up and moved to town

And the children have grown and left me for careers in town and city
And I'm proud of them but sadly for none chose station life
And now I smile to hear them talking of the hard slog in the office
For when I think of working hard I see a cocky and his wife

Another from the wonderful Judy Small.
The illustration to this site is The Drover's Wife by Russel Drysdale.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Mines of Australia


I sailed to the west with a schoolmate of mine
And together we shared the hard toil.
It was hard times at home that caused us to roam,
No work for the sons of the soil.
So I bade me old father and mother goodbye,
And I said I'll not be long away;
For ten years have passed, fortune's favoured at last
And I'm leaving Australia today.

I sailed to the west with a dear pal of mine,
Each having a share in one claim
And taking bad luck as it came with the rest,
And working on just the same
Til a cowardly blow struck my poor pal low,
Who struck him I never could tell;
But the share of his gold placed close to my heart
For mother and dear sister, Nell.

Well I'm going back to my dear old home
That's far away over the sea
Right back to the scenes of my childhood
Where there'll be a welcome for me
Well many's the year it has passed away
Since I left old England's shore,
And may God speed the vessel that carries me back
To my dear old home once more.

I sailed to the west with a schoolmate of mine
And together we shared the hard toil.
It was hard times at home that caused us to roam,
No work for the sons of the soil.
So I bade me old father and mother goodbye,
And I said I'll not be long away;
For ten years have passed, fortune's favoured at last
And I'm leaving Australia today.

Lyrics for this one from Mudcat:

On Kate Burke & Ruth Hazelton's album "Swapping Seasons" the notes for THE MINES OF AUSTRALIA say "Trad. arr K.Burke, L. Plumb & R. Hazleton. Collected by Warren Fahey from Cyril Duncan, 1973, Queensland."

Warren's own site has two verses of this song collected from "Mrs D Clarke"

A version of this song appears on the 1993 double CD, The Larrikin Sessions.

The illustration to this post is a photograph from the 1870s of "Simmons' (miners' office, mining agent, law agent and public accountant) and family outside his bark hut, Gulgong area, 1871-1875", American & Australasian Photographic Company. From the State Library of New South Wales collection.

Monday, August 29, 2011

River Bend

Words: Unknown
Tune: J. H. McNaughton

At River Bend, in New South Wales,
All alone among the whales,
Busting up some post and rails,
Sweet Belle Mahone.
In the blazing sun we stand,
Cabbage-tree hat, black velvet band,
Moleskins stiff with sweat and sand,
Sweet Belle Mahone.

Chorus: Sweet Belle Mahone, &c.

In the burning sand we pine,
No one asks us to have a wine,
’Tis a jolly crooked line,
Sweet Belle Mahone.
When I am sitting on a log,
Looking like a great big frog,
Waiting for a Murray cod,
Sweet Belle Mahone.

Land of snakes and cockatoos,
Native bears and big emus,
Ugly blacks and kangaroos,
Sweet Belle Mahone.
Paddymelons by the score,
Wild bulls, you should hear them roar,
They all belong to Johnny Dore,
Sweet Belle Mahone.

A parody of a popular sentimental song from 1867, Belle Mahone.

From Paterson's Old Bush Songs, where he notes:

“River Bend.”—This song certainly cannot boast of antiquity, as it is a parody on a recent sentimental song, but so many correspondents sent it in that it was decided to include it. Perhaps it is to its obvious sincerity of sentiment that it owes its popularity.

(I especially like the whales that are apparently found at the river bend!)

The harmonies for this post are those from the original published arrangement.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Battler's Ballad

Words: Jack Wright
Tune: Mike O-Rourke (a variation of The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane)

You are just a lonely battler and you're waiting for a rattler
You wish to heaven you were never born
For you ran to dodge a copper and you came an awful cropper
The skin on both your hands is cut and torn

You are tired and you're weary, lack of sleep makes your eyes bleary
The soles of both your shoes are worn right through
Your heart is sore and aching and your back is nearly breaking
Your coat and shirt and pants have had it too

And it's hey, hey hobo, you're just a rolling stone
Though you're stony broke, if you still can crack a joke
You're as good as any king upon his throne

Your blood is nearly boiling and your muscles need no oiling
As you duck and dodge the headlight's brilliant glare
For you've seen the copper's wood heap and you know that it's a good heap
You know the tucker's not the best in there

Then the engine gives a whistle, you trip up on a thistle
Get tangled up in signal wires and points
Then you blunder in the gutter and angrily you mutter
'Well, strike me pink, of all the flamin' joints!'

First Repeat chorus
And it's hey, hey hobo, you're just a rolling stone
Though your pants are wearing thin, if you can still raise a grin
You're as good as any king upon his throne

Then you see the green light flashing and hear the bumpers crashing
You see the great big engine rushing by
With your swag all at the ready, your nerves are not so steady
For you know you'll have to take her on the fly

Then your swag you try to throw in , but the flamin' thing won't go in
Bounces off the truck and hits you, and you fall
Pick the remnants of your swag up, pick your billy-can and bag up
You say, 'I missed the bastard after all!'

Second Repeat chorus
And it's hey, hey hobo, you're just a rolling stone
Though the sky is looking grey, there will surely come a day
When you'll own a bloody railway of your own.

Written by Jack in the 1930s. Appearing here via Mudcat and with the much-appreciated help of Tony Suttor.

Bob Bolton has advised by email that Jack Wright also wrote a tune for this one. I'm trying to track it down.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Wild Young Irish Boy


Sure I am a wild young Irish boy and from Dublin town I came
Transported out to Van Dieman's Land; of it I ain't ashamed
Sure I'll have you all to know, me boys, that wherever I may be
I'll die at my post like an Irish lad, or a wild colonial boy

Now, I done my time in Hobart and they sent me over here.
They yoked me to a plough the fields for me to tier.
But I didn't understand farming as I had been to sea;
I'd sailed the oceans far and wide, so I a farmer could not be.

But I became a bold young renegade and I traveled far and near.
Oh, I robbed the rich and I gave to the poor; of it I ain't ashamed,
But I never killed a man that didn't cause me any pain;
But the troopers knew Jack O'Brien, and they let me ride for gain

Now, one morning in the merry month of May, sure I did find
A wagon bringin' in gold from the Bendigo find.
"Oh, halt, you boys, and 'old up your 'ands!"-when a sergeant did appear
Says he, "Look, Jack O'Brien, me boy, you'll do this once too near!

"Your time it is over and you sure must fight or die!"
"Then I'll fight the six of you troopers, and I am only one.
Sure I'll fight to the end or victory, and I don't give a damn.
I'll be at my post like an Irish lad or a wild colonial boy,"

Now, the six troopers fell upon the ground, from their 'orses off did slide
And the sergeant he cried out to Jack Donahoo [O'Brien?] to abide
"By, the law, you're a prisoner!" "Then take me," said old Jack.
"But Sergeant, you've got some children, and look that I don't
shoot the track!

"McKenzie, you're a brave man, and I 'ate like 'ell to do,
To take your wife and children's bread from them for to kill you
So take my advice and ride away, and don't say what I've done.
I'm only takin' this gold to buy some pleasin' place for some."

Now when I'm far away and the farmers all will buy
Fine horses and fine wagons for their farms to die upon,
Sure you'll all live to wonder why Jack Donahoo [O'Brien?] would say
That I work for the farmers night and day, and for the rich and
poor I've prayed.

I've robbed the coaches day and night, but I never robbed the poor.
I have never committed murder, nor have I strayed from fields galore.
I'm chased from country to country and from borderline to town
But ne'er can they catch bold Jack again, for O'Brien is far away.

Now at last I'm lying on my bed and God does only know
I haven't long to live, I know, for I surely must go.
I would love to tell the truth-oh, before I pass away,
But I would love for some poor person to collect that bounty pay!

Sure I'm still a wild old renegade; Starlight is my name.
Oh they've looked for me from shore to shore and along the coast for miles
From state to state they've chased me, and at last I'm on my bed
If that newsboy would only come in, I'd tell him what to do

Just then the door it opened and the newsboy did come in
"Good mornin', Captain Starlight. Oh, good morning, sir," he said.
No answer but a beckon and a little note to say:
"Jack O'Brien is dying and he wants you for to take

"This note unto your mother, and let her do the rest,
And call the doctor first, and the police can come at last.
They can take my body away, and they never will be able to say
That Jack O'Brien didn't die like an Irish lad or a wild colonial boy!"

Now, I've traveled through the bushes, oh, both night and day,
With my bundle on my shoulder and a billy-can in my hand;
But I've always played the game, as every Australian should,
I've died at my post like an Irish lad, or a wild colonial boy.

An interesting variation on the Wild Colonial Boy theme, although any attempts at a rhyming pattern seem to have been abandoned by the end! There is also the slightly confusing issue of the protagonist's identity.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gentle Annie

Words: Unknown
Tune: Stephen Foster

The harvest time's come, gentle Annie,
And your wild oats are all scattered round the field.
You'll be anxious to know, gentle Annie,
How your little crop of oats is going to yield.

We'll say farewell, gentle Annie,
For you know with you I can no longer stay.
Yes, I'll bid you adieu, gentle Annie,
Till we meet you on another threshing day.

Your mutton's very sweet, gentle Annie,
And I'm sure it can't be packed in New South Wales,
But you'd better put a fence around the cabbage,
Or they'll all get eaten up by the snails.

You'll take my advice, gentle Annie,
And you'd better watch your chappie goin' away
With his packbag flung over his shoulder,
And he stole some knives and forks the other day.

Written by the prolific Stephen Foster in 1856, this parody seems to have developed in Australia. Wikipedia has the following note:

An alternative version from Australia is also known as Gentle Annie. This was published in Australian Tradition, Vol. 1, no. e, in 1964. It was recorded by Martyn Wyndham-Read.[3] The tune is the same as the Stephen Foster version, but the lyrics are different. The Australian lyrics were written by Lame Jack Cousens of Springhurst, Victoria. Sources state that its subject is Annie Waits. The song "Gentle Annie" sung by Tommy Makem is a different song from both the Foster and the Australian version.

Any clarification of the origins of this one would be gratefully received. (There's a brief mudcat discussion here)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Indicating Rock

Words: Robert Stewart (?)
Tune: Traditional (The Old Bark Hut)

Come all you jolly diggers
And hardy sons of toil
Who have come to dig on Fiery Creek
And tried to make a pile
You labour just as constant
As the pendulum of a clock
And you pay such great attention
To the indicating rock

The expert has been to see us
But he's done but little good
For he said we hadn't got the reef
And knew we never should
But his scientific theory
Has received a gentle knock
Since he gave us his opinion
On the indicating rock

For at eighty feet we've struck it
And it's nearly two feet wide
And the lucky finder lit his pipe
And viewed the reef with pride
He could see the gold as plainly
As the hands upon a clock
And he blessed the day he sunk upon
The indicating rock

Found this one on Mudcat, but then traced it back to Mark Gregory with the following notes:

Collected from Mrs G. L. Ginns, of Merrylands, New South Wales, who writes:
"My father, Robert Stewart, was born in 1838 at the Five Islands; spent the
early part of his life droving, horse-breaking, shearing and gold digging.
My earliest recollections are of him singing the songs he had composed
fifty or sixty years before."
It seems to fit the tune 'Old Bark Hut' closely enough.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of the Cowra Creek Gold Mine, where gold has been mined since the 1860s.

One Voice In The Crowd

Judy Small

I've lived a life of privilege, I've never known what hunger is
I've never laboured with my hands except to play guitar
Middle class my middle name, life's been more or less a game
But in the end it's all the same, the buck stops where you are

And we are foolish people who do nothing
Because we know how little one person can do
Yes we are foolish people who do nothing
Because we know how little one can do

It's not my issue, not my scene, I've got to get my own house clean
I keep it neat and tidy just in case the Queen should call
Come back to me another day and gladly I'll join in, we say
And I'm just one voice anyway, just one brick in the wall

One brick in the wall you may be, one voice in the crowd
But without you we are weaker and our song may not be heard
One drop in the ocean, but each drop will swell the tide
So be your one brick in the wall, be one voice in the crowd

And we are foolish people who do nothing
Because we know how little one person can do
Yes we are foolish people who do nothing
Because we know how little one can do

Written by Judy Small in 1985.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jimmy Sago, Jackeroo

Words: Anonymous
Tune: Traditional (The Wearing of the Green)

If you want a situation, I’ll just tell you the plan
To get on to a station, I am just your very man.
Pack up the old portmanteau, and label it Paroo,
With a name aristocratic—Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.

When you get on to the station, of small things you’ll make a fuss,
And in speaking of the station, mind, it’s we, and ours, and us.
Boast of your grand connections and your rich relations, too
And your own great expectations, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.

They will send you out on horseback, the boundaries to ride
But run down a marsupial and rob him of his hide,
His scalp will fetch a shilling and his hide another two,
Which will help to fill your pockets, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
Yes, to fill your empty pockets, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.

When the boss wants information, on the men you’ll do a sneak,
And don a paper collar on your fifteen bob a week.
Then at the lamb-marking a boss they’ll make of you.
Now that’s the way to get on, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.

A squatter in the future I’ve no doubt you may be,
But if the banks once get you, they’ll put you up a tree.
To see you humping bluey, I know, would never do,
’Twould mean good-bye to our new chum, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
Yes, good-bye to our new chum, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.

From Paterson's, Old Bush Songs.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Struggle in The West

Words: Unknown
Tune: Traditional (Rosin the Bow)

There's a struggle going on in the West boys
A battle for Freedom and Right
Though Tyranny's raising his crest boys
We'll conquer or die in the fight
They may take from the hands that are free
The ballot that backs up his claim
May land us in prison but see boys
They never shall win at the game

There's a struggle going on in the West boys
A battle for Freedom and Right
Though Tyranny's raising his crest boys
We'll conquer or die in the fight

They have sent to the plains of the West boys
The Gatling the Nordenfeldt too
It seems that we must be suppressed boys
Says Price "Lay them out and fire low"
The soldiers and troopers are here
To shoot down the men of their class
Grim heroes with rifle and spear boys
To charge on a weaponless mass

There are woolsheds and grass in the West boys
There's fences and sheep on the plain
Would stranger to see us have guessed boys
They've sprung from our labour and pain?
Can they garrison the plains with police?
Can they garrison the back tracks with their troops?
Can they watch the slow growth of the fleece boys?
They are mad! They are fools! They are dupes!

They are sending the scabs to the West boys
At the sheds they are dumping them down
For the man that the squatter likes best boys
Is the loafer and duffer from town
Surrounded by troops and police
Let them watch till the squatters go lame
If they wait till we're suing for peace boys
They never shall win at the game

So be true to yourself in the West boys
Be staunch to your mates and your class
The 'Brag' of the squatters we'll test boys
By the power of the Union 'Hold Fast'
Let them hunt up the scum of the South
Bring outcasts too wretched to name
We'll give it to them straight from our mouths boys
They never shall win at the game

Notes and lyrics from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs site:

This song appeared in the Brisbane Worker (editor William Lane) on 18th April 1891 at the height of the Shearers' Strike. It was brought to the attention of the Australian folk movement by Len Fox (who was then the editor of Common Cause the Miners union paper) The reference to Price in the song is Colonel Tom Price who is remembered in union history because of his order to his troops at a union demonstration in Melbourne in September 1890 "Fire low, and lay them out". Tune is 'Rosin the Bow'

The illustration to this post is from Queensland Pictures via

Townsville Mounted Infantry soldiers escorting a wagon train of blackleg workers to Hughenden Station during the Shearers strike. In late March and early April about sixty blacklegs were recruited at Townsville for Hughenden station. On 25 March 121 officers and men of the Townsville Mounted Infantry were called out to protect them. (Information taken from: S. Svensen, The Shearers' war : the story of the 1891 shearers' strike, 1989)

The Diggins-Oh

Words: Anonymous
Tune: Nicole Murray

I've come back all skin and bone
From the diggins-oh.
And I wish I'd never gone
To the diggins-oh.
Believe me, 'tis no fun,
I once weighed fifteen stone
But they brought me down to one
At the diggins-oh.

I built a hut with mud
At the diggins-oh.
That got washed away by flood
At the diggins-oh.
I used to dig and cry,
It wouldn't do to die,
Undertakers charge too high
At the diggins-oh.

I paid for vittles with a frown
At the diggins-oh.
Three potatoes half a crown
At the diggins-oh.
Five shillings a four-pound brick
Butter at a shilling a lick,
They never give no tick
At the diggins-oh.

They tied me to a tree
At the diggins-oh.
With my nuggets they made free
At the diggins-oh.
I escaped from harm and hurt
Though they stole my very shirt
I had to paint myself with dirt
At the diggins-oh.

I felt quite a ruined man
At the diggins-oh.
Thought, I'll get home if I can
From the diggins-oh.
I was always catching cold,
And I've been both bought and sold,
Like many more, for gold
At the diggins-oh.

From cloudstreet's 2004 album, The Fiddleship.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Meat Pie Song

Words: John Dengate (?)
Tune: Traditional (All Among the Wool)

When i was just a little lad
I was silly as can be
My old man calls me up to him, this he says to me.
If you want the light of wisdom to glisten in your eyes
You'll have to cheer for toohey's beer and eat meat pies

All among the gravy
All among the crust
Show a little faith, boys
Show a little trust
I can eat a respectable tally myself, whenever I likes to try
I'm known from here to Blacktown as the Big Ben pie.

Well I've eat 'em up the middle when the centre starts to sag
I've washed 'em down with Resch's and with cans of Toohey's Flag
Oh cast your eyes upon my strides, you still can see the stains
Pass me the tomato sauce, here we go again.

Well I've 'em freezing cold and I've had 'em boiling hot
I've had 'em at the cricket ground, sitting on my blot
I've waved my pie in triumph when the tigers led to nil
And I've thrown them at the coppers on the scoreboard hill

A beauty from the singing of Declan Affley on the 1981 double album, While the Billy Boils - A Panorama of Australian Folklore.

The illustration to this post is meant to show the singular significance of the pie in Australian culture. It's very pie-ness defines us and alone is able to satisfy our hunger for cultural and culinary fulfilment. We like pies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New England Cocky


'Twas a New England Cocky, as late I've been told,
Who died, so 'tis said, on account of the cold.
When dying he called to his children "Come here!
"As I'm dying, I want you my fortune to share.

"Dear children, you know I've toiled early and late,
"I've struggled with Nature, and wrestled with Fate.
"Then all do your best to my fortune repair;
"And to my son John I leave a dear native bear.

"To Mary I give my pet kangaroo,
"May it prove to turn out a great blessing, too;
"To Michael I leave the old cockatoo,
"And to Bridget I'll give her the piebald emu.

"To the others whatever is left I will leave —
"Don't quarrel, or else my poor spirit will grieve;
"There's the fish in the stream, and the fowl on the lake,
"Let each have as much as any may take

"And now, my dear children, no more can I do,
"My fortune I've fairly divided with you,"
And these were the last words his children did hear —
"Don't forget that I reared you on pumpkin and beer."

From Paterson's Old Bush Songs. Several versions can be found, including the Inglewood Cocky, collected by John Manifold.

The illustration to this post is a drawing entitled "The Dying Man" by John Guile Millais from The Life and Letters of John Everett Millais, President of the Royal Academy. 2 vols. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1899.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Out in the Gulf

Words: Traditional
Tune: Traditional (Click Go The Shears)

Out in the Gulf
Where the Norman River flows
Down to Karumba
As mighty as she goes
In any of the pubs
There is often to be seen.
A drunken drover's cook
By the name of Jim Beam

He picks up his glass
And he drinks down his beer
And then he starts a-yelling
In a voice that hurts your ear
In a this bloody county
Wherever you may go
I'm the best, the best, the best, the best
At anything you know.

Best at cooking corn beef
Best at cooking stew
Fact there isn's anything
That I cannot do.
I can cook a damper.
Standing on my head.
Im the best, the best, the best, the best
Oh enough said.

Best at playing football
Best at playing tennis
And when it comes to cricket
Well, I'm a bloody menace.
Best at all the dances
Oh mighty are my deeds
And you don't believe me
Well - come out where the bull feeds.

Collected by Ron Edwards from Percy Tresize in Cairns (1960) who in turn learnt it from Bob Dunbar of Normanton. From Ron's The Overlander Songbook (1956).

Normanton is a small town in the Gulf country of Queensland.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of the famous Purple Pub in Normanton.

The illustration is

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Frank Gardiner


Oh, Frank Gardiner he is caught at last he lies in Sydney jail
For wounding Sergeant Middleton and robbing Mudgee mail
For plundering of the gold escort, the Carcoar Mail also
And it was for gold he made so bold, and not so long ago

His daring deeds surprised them all throughout the Sydney land
And on his friends he gave a call, and quickly raised a band
And fortune always favoured him, until the time of late
Until Ben Hall and Gilbert met with their dreadful fate

Young Vane, he has surrendered, Ben Hall's got his death wound
And as for Johnny Gilbert, near Binalong was found
He was all alone and lost his horse, three troopers came in sight
And he fought the three most manfully, got slaughtered in the fight

Farewell, adieu, to outlawed Frank, he was the poor man's friend
The government has secured him, the laws he did offend
He boldly stood his trial and him and answered in a breath
'And do what you will, you can but kill; I have no fear of death

Day after day they remanded him, escorted from the bar
Fresh charges brought against him from neighbours near and far
And now it is all over; the sentence they have passed
All sought to find a verdict, and 'Guilty' 'twas at last

When lives you take, a warning, boys, a woman never trust
She will turn round, I will be bound, Queen's evidence, the first
He's doing two-and-thirty years; he's doomed to serve the Crown
And well may he say, he cursed the day he met with Mrs Brown

Lyrics from Mark Gregory's, Australian Folk Songs site:

This song collected by Meredith and Keesing from Mrs Popplewell. The tune is noted be Mark Gregory as being a variation of 'The Shan Van Vocht'. Given the unusual resolution of the fourth line, it may be a misremembered tune.

It seems likely that this song predates Gardiner's release from prison on condition of exile in 1874.

The illustration to this post is a wood engraving from 1864 by Samuel Calvert:

Trial of Frank Gardiner, the bushranger, at the Supreme Court, Sydney

The original is held by the State Library, Victoria.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tram, Tram, Tram

Words: Unknown
Tune: George F Root (Tramp, Tramp, Tramp)

As we speed upon our way,
With our motors puffing gay,
We cheerily and deftly glide along;
And. we clear the course, you bet,
For we make the people "get,"
While this is still the burden of their song :—

Chorus: Tram, tram, tram the cars are coming;
Shriek, puff, jingle through the street;
And the motto, ' Save who can,' yells each bold equestri-an,
Each cart or carriage-driver that they meet.

When we make our whistle screech,
Folks for mercy may beseech,
As with speed of Derby-winners off they go ,
For their steeds we stimulate
To a pace would win a Plate,
And our metal fires the slowest of the slow! .

Chorus: Tram, tram, tram. etc

Now the circuses must fail
To draw box-ites or canaille—
They never can our gratis show surpass;
Every sawdust 'daring feat'
Is outrivalled in the street;
While to watch the riders antics beats a farce !

How our lungs we do exert
When we tumble in the dirt
Some fat old party climbing on a car ;
As he sprawls upon his back
Sure 'tis merry sport, good lack!
'Which our lively sense of humour cannot mar.

Folks may growl about the dust,
But then stir it up we must;
Whilst from smoke-stacks showers of burning ashes fly ;
How it makes a fellow prance,
An impromptu ' break-down' dance,
When he gets a fiery cinder in the eye!

Chorus: Tram, tram, tram. etc

Those who want to save their time
Don't admit our speed is prime ;
But of elegance and ease in praise we talk;
Time is made but for a slave,
So if that you want to save,
Why, hail the nearest omnibus, or—walk !

Chorus : Tram, tram, tram, etc

Our passengers we squeeze,
Little reckoning for their ease,
As we jam them helter-skelter, great and small;
Those who cannot sit may stand;
And tho' amusement waxes grand
When with sudden jerk we cause a headlong sprawl!

Chorus: Tram, tram, tram etc.

Sometimes—'tis true, alas !
That sometimes the trams must come to pass
And grim death, with scythe and hour-glass takes a hand;
With the 'Crowner' and his 'quest,
O'er the victim sent to rest
By this fiery Demon shrieking o'er the land !

Chorus: Than Tram, Tram, Tram,
The cars are coming
Shriek, puff, jingle through the street,
And the motto, “Save who can”, yells each bold equestrian,
Each cart or carriage-driver that they meet!

This magnificent parody of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp:The Prisoners' Hope is to be found on Warren Fahey's Australian Folklore Unit site. The original song was written in 1864 "to give hope to Unionist prisoners of war".

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bound For Australia


1. I'm leaving old England, the land that I love
And I'm bound for across the sea;
Oh, I'm bound for Australia, the land of the free
Where there'll be a welcome for me.

So fill up yer glasses an' drink what ye please,
For whatever's the damage I'll pay,
So be aisy an' free, whilst yer drinkin' wid me,
Sure I'm a man yiz don't meet every day!

2. When I board me ship for the south'ard to go,
She'll be looking so trim and so fine,
And I'll land me aboard, wid me bags and me stores,
From the dockside they'll cast off each line.

3. To Land's End we'll tow, wid our boys aIl so tight,
Wave a hearty goodbye to the shore,
An' we'll drink the last drop to our country's green land,
An' the next day we'll curse [nurse] our heads sore.

4. We'll then drop the tugs and sheet tops'Is home taut,
An' the hands will crowd sail upon sail,
Wid a sou'wester strong, boys, we'll just tack along,
By the morn many jibs will turn pale.

5. We'll beat past the Ushant and then down the Bay,
Where the west wind it bIows fine an' strong,
We'll soon git the Trades an' we should make good time,
To the south'ard then we'll roll along.

6. Round the Cape we will roll, take our flyin' kites in,
For the Forties will sure roar their best,
An' then run our Eastin' wid yards all set square,
Wid the wind roaring out of the west.

7. We'll then pass Cape Looin all shipshape an' trim,
Then head up for Adelaide Port,
Off Semaphore Roads we will there drop our hook,
An' ashore, boys, we'll head for some sport.

8. When I've worked in Australia for twenty long years,
One day will I head homeward bound,
Wid a nice little fortune tucked under me wing,
By a steamship I'll travel I'm bound!

9. So 'tis goodbye to Sally an' goodbye to Sue
When I'm leavin' Australia so free,
Where the gals are so kind, but the one left behind
Is the one that will one day splice me!

From Stan Hugill's 1979 collection, Shanties From The Seven Seas: shipboard work songs and songs used as work songs from the great days of sail

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Randwick Races

Words: John Dengate
Tune: Traditional (Galway Races)

We arrived at Randwick races, by taxi from Clovelly.
I had money in my trousers, boys, and schooners in my belly.
Well the bookies saw us coming and they panicked in a crisis;
They tinkered with the odds and they shortened all their prices.
With my whack, fol the do, fol the diddley idle day.

Well the hunger it was gnawing and the thirst was in us rising
While the crowd’s excited roaring reached a level quite surprising.
Oh, we swallowed several middies and demolished pies and sauces
And we set to work comparing prices, jockey’s weights and horses.

Denis Kevans said, “I reckon we will finish rich as Pharaoh
If we back the chestnut filly from the district of Monaro.
She’s a trier, she’s a flier, never knock her or decry her -
She’s sixty-six to one; when she wins we’ll all retire.”

There was every kind of punter from illiterates to scholars;
I struggled through the betting ring and wagered twenty dollars -
Then the horses were away; from the barrier they thundered
And we hoped that very day to collect the thirteen hundred.

We shouted in despair; Denis Kevans tore his hair,
O’Dea began to swear at the filly from Monaro.
She was struggling in the pack and our very hearts were bleeding;
She was falling further back and the favourite was leading.

It seems the filly heard us for suddenly she sprinted.
She raced around the ruck with a purpose quite unstinted.
At the ledger she was third, oh you should have seen her flying;
I got so damned excited that I choked upon my pie, singing –

They stormed into the straight like cavalry invading;
The filly was improving and the favourite was fading:
“She’s won it by a nose ... but a protest has been entered;
The stewards have upheld it; curse the day they were invented!’

We walked back to Clovelly from the blasted Randwick races,
With ulcers in our bellies, boys, and gloom upon our faces.
We cursed the filly’s jockey and we cursed the Randwick stewards
Then drowned our disappointment in a flood of amber fluids.

A beauty from John Dengate. With thanks to Bob Bolton for transcribing the lyrics from John's book, My Shout, published by Bob and the Bush Music Club in 1982.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Rabbit Trapper's Song

Words: Unknown
Tune: Traditional (The Roscrea Cows)

Well me traps are all a-jangle and in an easy swinging tangle
And I'm setting in a circle, keeping round a fringe of trees'
And I'm muck and gory splattered, and me clobber's torn and tattered,
But I'm carefree as those bunnies, 'til they fall for one of these;

And I'm under no man's orders and I recognise no borders;
But there's a welcome everywhere for me and my old dungarees.
I am a rabbit trapper and a canny bunny snapper,
And I whistle through the bushland, like the birds up in the trees.

It' been a fairly fresh old morning, I can hear the kookas calling
As I jingle through the bushland, wet grass up to the knees
And these bunnies that I'm stopping, well they fairly keep me hopping
And I think I'll have a smoko when I get up to the trees

While you blokes are courting tabbies, well I'm out among the rabbies;
And I can hear 'em buckin', squealin', well, a dozen traps ahead,
While you blokes at the pub are flirtin', at the last trap I am certain
To be bagging up me bunnies, keeping tally as I tread.

Well, come on, my old cobber, we'll put on some decent clobber
And we'll leave the bunnies hoppin', and playin' in the trees (Hup, Ginger!)
We'll make the railway early; there's a shy and dinkum girlie
And she juggles with those cream cans, while she writes cheques out for me.

Collected by Wendy Lowenstein and Dave de Hugard. From Therese Radic's Songs of Australian Working Life. These lyrics transcribed and posted by Bob Bolton on Mudcat, with the addition of the third verse which I transcribed from this youtube clip of Dave singing this song to a slightly adapted tune:

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Drover/Brisbane Ladies

Saul Mendelsohn

Farewell and adieu to you Brisbane ladies
Farewell and adieu to you girls of Toowong
For we've sold all our cattle and cannot now linger
But trust we shall see you again before long

We sing and we shout like true Queensland natives
As merrily, merrily, onward we push
Until we return to the Old Cattle station
What joy and delight is a life in the bush

The first camp we make we shall call it the Good Luck
Cabbolture and Kilcoy, thne Colinton hut
We pull up at Stone House, Bob Williamson's paddock
And soon the next morning we cross the Black Butt

On, on past Taromeo to Yarraman Creek, boys
It's there we will make a fine camp for the day
Where the water and grass are both plenty and good boys
The life of the drover is merry and gay

The camp is all snug and supper is over
We lounge round the fire enjoying a smoke
While yarning of home or the life of a drover
Till all join in the chorus to "Grandfather's Clock"

Next night through Nanango - the jolly old township
"Good day to you, lads" wiht a hearty shake hands
"Come on, this is my shout! Well here's to your next trip
And we hope you will step in tonight at our dance

Oh, the girls look so pretty - the sight is entrancing
Bewitching and graceful they join in the fun
Of waltz, polka, first set, and all other dancing
To the old concertina of Jack Smith, the Don

Though far I have travelled through Russia and Finns-land
Have met the famed damsels of Poland and Spain
More lovely and fair are the darlings of Queensland
You may search the wide world for their equals in vain

Now drink to our lasses in right hearty fashion
Come sing the loud chorus - sing farewell to all
We'll drink this town dry then farewell to all
And when we return from the Old Cattle Station
We'll always be pleased to give you a call

This version from the Hurd Collection (1894-1900), and written by Saul Mendelsohn, a storekeeper from Nanango. The more-famous version is that collected by AL Lloyd.

The illustration to this post is of

Wool trains leaving Burenda Station, Augathella, 1910.

from Bonzle

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marijuana Australiana

(c) Brendan "Mookx" Hanley (APRA)

Have you heard the word about the herb superb? You can take it from an Okka like me
You take one toke for a bit of a joke ... and you’re out of your Coolabah tree
Then the bloke next door wants to call the cops 'cause you smile and you’re feelin’ happy
So you plant a few seeds, and you grow a few weeds
And the world don’t look so crappy ... Talk about

Marijuana, Australiana
Cheaper than grog, safer than pills ... Make you sing like Frank Sinatra
Marijuana Australiana
Greatest craze since the disco days ... You can buy it from your nearest farmer!

Now I was layin’ a rave on this cocky one day about changin’ a few of our laws
I said, “You know they arrest some folks with pot and they lock ‘em up indoors!”
He said “Serves ‘em right for smokin’ that dope it leads to the harder stuff!”
And then I found he was growin’ a whole plantation .cause life on the land’s a bit tough!
Growin’ that

CHORUS ( ... Make you sing like Johnny Farnham)

Now the drug squad usually have the best they pinch it from the people they bust
And they’ll sell you some for a nice old profit if you can find one you can trust
And apart from that all the doctors and pubs have to keep up the country’s tax
But when your pills and your booze start to rot your old body there’s a much better way to relax
Talkin’ ‘bout

CHORUS ( ... Make you sing like Kate Ceberana)

Now there was a time not long ago when smokin’ a joint was fine
But don’t get caught with dope these days it’s become a hanging crime
They got helicopter gun-ships, video trail bikes, four wheel drives in line
While the smack rolls in, in container ships and no bugger even gets fined
Talkin’ ‘bout

CHORUS ( ... Make you sing like La Stupenda)

Written Albert Park Victoria March 1975 … later made into a cult hit by the Bushwackers

With many thank to the songwriter for lyrics.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When The Rain Tumbles Down In July

Slim Dusty

Let me wander north to the homestead
way out further on there to roam,
by a gully in flood let me linger,
when the summery sunshine has flown.
Where the logs tangle up on the creek bed,
and the clouds veil the old northern sky,
and the cattle move back from the lowlands,
when the rain tumbles down in July.

The settlers with sad hearts are watching,
the rise of the stream from the dawn,
their best crops are always in floodreach,
if it rises much more they'll be gone.
The cattle string out along the fences,
as the breeze from the south races by,
and the limbs from the old gums are falling
when the rain tumbles down in July.

The old sleeping gums by the river
awaken to herds straying by,
from the flats where the fences have vanished,
as the storm clouds gather on high.
The wheels of the wagons stop turning,
and the stock horse is turned out to stray,
and the old station dogs are a-dozing,
on the husks in the barn through the day.

The drover draws rein by the river,
it's been years since he's seen it so high,
and that's just a story of homeward,
when the rain tumbles down in July.

One of the earliest songs from this prolific writer, written in 1945 when he was 18 years old.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dennis O'Reilly


My name is Dennis O'Reilly,
From Dublin town I come,
To travel the wide world over
I crossed the Australian main.

With me pack all on me shoulder
And a blackthorn in my hand
I'll travel the bush of Australia
Like a true-born Irishman.

When I arrived in Melbourne
All the girls all jumped for joy,
Saying one unto the mother,
“Here comes me Irish boy.”

With a pack all on his shoulder
And a blackthorn in his hand
I'll travel the bush of Australia
With a true-born Irishman.

“Oh daughter, dearest daughter,
What is it you would do?
Now would you marry an Irish man,
A man you never knew?

“Oh mother, dear mother,
Sure I'll do the best I can,
I'll travel the wide world over
With me true-born Irishman.”

With a pack all on his shoulder
And a blackthorn in his hand
I'll travel the wide world over
With a true-born Irishman.

From the singing of Shirley Collins, on her 1958 album, False True Lovers.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Freehold on the Plain

Words: Traditional
Tune: Will S Hays (The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane.)

I’m a broken-down old squatter, my cash it is all gone,
Of troubles and bad seasons I complain;
My cattle are all mortgaged, of horses I have none,
And I’ve lost that little freehold on the plain.

The stockyard’s broken down, and the woolshed’s
tumbling in;
I’ve written to the mortgagees in vain;
My wool it is all damaged and it is not worth a pin,
And I’ve lost that little freehold on the plain.

I commenced life as a squatter some twenty years ago,
When fortune followed in my train;
But I speculated heavy and I’d have you all to know
That I’ve lost that little freehold on the plain.

I built myself a mansion, and chose myself a wife;
Of her I have no reason to complain;
For I thought I had sufficient to last me all my life,
But I’ve lost that little freehold on the plain.

And now I am compelled to take a drover’s life,
To drive cattle through the sunshine and the rain,
And to leave her behind me, my own dear loving wife —
We were happy on that freehold on the plain.

Another from Paterson's Old Bush Songs. To the tune of The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane, a song of very similar theme, with the second verse:

Oh the chimney's fallen down and the roof's all caved in
Lettin' in the sunshine and the rain
And the only friend I've got now is that good old dog of mine
And the little old log cabin in the lane

There's a great version by Fiddlin' John Carson at this link: Fiddlin John Carson Vol. 1 1923 - 1924 - Fiddlin John Carson

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Franklin Must Ever Run Free

Words: Anonymous
Tune: Traditional (Botany Bay)

Oh the Franklin's the sweetest of rivers
And the wildest we ever have named
And despite bully boys and their ignorance,
The Franklin must never be tamed

Singing toorallai, toorallai addity
Singing toorallai, toorallai-ee
Despite bully boys and their ignorance,
The Franklin must never be tamed

There's the Hydro-Electric Commission
At building power stations they're great
And the Hydro-Electric Commission
Builds the dams, makes the power, runs the state

There's the wild and the wet and the beautiful
There's the tame and the shame and the taint
There's a government that's ever so dutiful
To a premier who thinks he's a saint.

For there's not just the past there's the future
We must build for tomorow you see
And the duty we owe to our children's kids
Is to make sure the Franklin runs free.

From Franklin River Blockade Songs - The Franklin River Blockade Songbook, Volume 2, Hobart, February 1993. Published by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society.

The protests over the proposed damming of the Franklin River were a significant example of community political mobilisation in Australia in the 1980s. A summary of the events can be found here:

The Wilderness Society developed out of the principal organisation involved in the protests, The Tasmanian Wilderness Society. The head of the TWS (Dr Bob Brown) went on to become leader of the Australian Greens and has represented that party in the Senate since 1996.

The Ballad of Ned Kelly

Unknown (The Sandgroper)

You've heard of Mirth and Music, the chestnut and the grey,
The gang that rode with Kelly, in ev'ry bold affray
The dark and daring Outlaw, who led his rebel ranks
To steal the squatters' cattle and robe the squatters' banks.

Kelly! Ned Kelly!

By Stringybark they sought him, he gunned troopers down
He galloped out of daybreak, to raid Euroa Town
His warlike band around hi,, their leather running free,
He swept across the border, and took Jerilderie.

He punished his betrayer, who broke the Kelly code,
To challenge up the troopers, he wrecked the iron road;
Against the foe, in armour, he strode his native land,
The Battle of Glenrowan, his great and fatal stand.

Amid the fire and fury, the troopers won the day,
The Kelly-men were broken, their leader brought to bay;
Beyond the pale of pardon, he kept a reckless pride,
Then choking on the gallows, the Armoured Outlaw died.

They tell the tale of Kelly, wherever deeds are known,
Of thunderbolt rebellion, the courage he had shown'
They tell of death and danger, the fate of mortal men
Then looming in the twilight, Ned Kelly rides again.

Another of the seemingly endless supply of Ned Kelly songs. No author's name is included on the single-sided sheet that includes this song. There is this footnote:

The sandgroper, 9B St. John's Court, Rivervale, WA.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated (The "90 years" reference in the notes places the song around 1970).

The following notes are from the lyric sheet:

Game as Ned Kelly!

Of all Australia's song, why did Kelly's name become the widest known and a household word for courage? What was the true calibre of the man who won such a lasting renown?

Ned Kelly has been likened to the Scto, Sir William Wallace - of whom it was said, "he began as a brigand, but his final aim was Independence". Both men were hanged and decapitated. Wallace's head was stuck on London Bridge - and Kelly's kept on a government desk. Legend has it, that a document - proclaiming a Republic of the North East - was found on Kelly at Glenrowan.

Some say it was Ned Kelly's mortal enemy - Lonigan - who triggered the gunfight at Stringybark Creek; that like Ben Hall, Kelly's intention had been to strip the troopers of their uniforms and dignity and run them back to Mansfield; but the tumble of events brought tragedy. Nevertheless, violence was inevitable, for the Kelly edict was clear; The Outlaw must be obeyed! And he meant it.

At all events, Australia - the nation, has given Ned Kelly a justice that Victoria - the colony, denied him.

After 90 years, the verdict stands - no man was gamer!.

The illustration to this post is a contemporary newspaper illustration of Ned Kelly's trial (1880).

Friday, August 5, 2011


Words: Will H Ogilvie
Tune: Traditional (Villikins and his Dinah)

Well known on the border, tall, handsome and straight
A reckless hard liver, but true hearted mate
What his name was I'm not in position to swear,
But we called - and it suited him - Devil-may-care.

He was fond of the women, ah, that you may think,
Love, dancing and women go mostly with drink,
He had eyes for the dark ones and lips for the fair,
And a careless gay gallant was Devil-may-care.

But there came to our hero, as mostly to those
Who expect to go scatheless, a wound of love's woes,
An armful of roses and ruddy gold hair,
Set the love stars a-reeling for Devil-may-care.

At night in the camp where the tired cattle lay,
And the drovers keep double night watch till the day
The boss took the road on his ambling bay mare
And the girl in the moonlight met Devil-may-care.

They met and they parted, a kiss for a troth,
And the world seemed a fairyland built for them both,
When some late laggard passing caught sight of the mare,
And true-heart no longer met Devil-may-care.

They took her away for her good to the south,
With the rebel's wild kiss on the rosy child mouth
"Ah, why should I worry, it's only my share,
Goodbye and God bless you" said Devil-may-care.

A version of an Ogilvie poem. Collected by Ron Edwards from Jack Parveez in Charters Towers on 12 October, 1966.

Stringybark and Greenhide


I sing of a commodity, it's one that will not fail yer,
I mean the common oddity, the mainstay of Australia;
Gold it is a precious thing, for commerce it increases,
But stringy bark and green hide, can beat it all to pieces.

Stringy bark and green hide, that will never fail yer!
Stringy bark and green hide, the mainstay of Australia.

If you travel on the road, and chance to stick in Bargo,
To avoid a bad capsise, you must unload your cargo;
For to pull a dray about, I do not see the force on,
Take a bit of green hide, and hook another horse on.

If you chance to take a dray, and break your leader's traces,
Get a bit of green hide, to mend the broken places.
Green hide is a useful thing all that you require;
But stringy bark's another thing when you want a fire.

If you want to build a hut, to keep out wind and weather,
Stringy bark will make it snug, and keep it well together;
Green hide, if it's used by you, will make it all the stronger,
For if you tie it with green hide, its sure to last the longer.

New chums to this golden land, never dream of failure,
Whilst you've got such useful things as these in fair Australia;
For stringy bark and green hide will never, never fail you,
Stringy bark and green hide is the mainstay of Australia.

Another beauty from Ron Edward's collecting, this time from Jock Dingwall in Cairns, recorded in April, 1965. Ron took these words from an undated Sydney Songster of the mid-19th century.

Recorded with 1890 tenor and 1853 bass Wheatstone concertinas.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh, Give Me A Hut


Oh give me a hut in my own native land,
Or a tent in Australia where the tall gum trees stand
I don't care how far in the bush it may be
If there's one faithful heart to share it with me.

Australia's the land of my childhood and birth
Oft-times I think of it's beauty and mirth,
With the scenes of my childhood contented I'd be
If there's one faithful heart to share it with me.

'Tis pleasant to rise at the break of the day
And chase the wild horse in the hills far away,
For he dances and prances and snorts in his glee
And is yarded at night by a native like me.

How I long to be where the emu does stray,
And the wild native dog calls aloud for his prey
And the kangaroo and the wallaby and the wombat so rare
Are found with the bandicoot and the wild native bear.

Oh give me a hut in my own native land,
Or a tent in Australia where the tall gum trees stand
I don't care how far in the bush it may be
If there's one faithful heart to share it with me.

Four versions of this somewhat twee number were collected by Ron Edwards. This version from the stockman, Mick Dolan. From Ron's Big Book of Australian Folk Songs (1976).

The illustration to this post is from the National Library of Australia's John Flynn Collection - Buchan Caves Area P456/64.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Irishman's Goldmine


'Twas a long time ago, just how long I don't know,
Since I first saw the land of the gumtree.
I was young, I was bold, I was looking for gold,
I was gay as the bloom of the plum-tree.

So it was pleasing to me when I happened to see
An Italian named Paddy O'Higgins
For by him I was told, if I want to find gold,
I must hump my swag up to the diggings.

So I bid him good-day and I went on my way
With my heart twice as light as a feather
And I whistle and sing till the gumtrees they ring
And I don't give a damn for the weather.

So I walks me all day till I gets me that way
That I cannot stand up without sitting
For the weight of my pack puts a kink in my back
That I cannot get out without splitting

I was ready to cry when I happened to spy
A red shirt with a big man inside it
When my tale him I told, and I spoke about gold
He said, "Irish, you're sitting beside it!"

"See that big yellow lump, beside the black stump -
If you want to find gold, I 'd advise you
Dig it up, and I bet you won't ever forget
For what you'll fin there will surprise you.

So I bid him good-day and he goes on his way,
And that hump, I just felt I could hug it
For my heart was so big as I started to dig
And expected to find one big nugget

I can see myself now, with the sweat on my brow
As off that big hump I then flung me,
For those great soldier ants, they climbed up my pants
And like ten thousand deevils they stung me

How they climbed in and out, picking little bits out
Like goats that were turned into clover
How I wished I was home, never more would I roam,
How I cursed the gold over and over

How they stung and they hurt as I pulled off my shirt
How I cursed that damned Paddy O'Higgins!
How I wished that red shirt as I rolled in the dirt
Had been buried alive in the diggings

Now, I remember one day that I heard the priest say
That gold was the root of all evil
It was true what he told, for I went to find gold
And dug up the roots of the deevil.

Another form Folk Songs of Australia, edited by John Meredith and Hugh Anderson, collected from Duke Tritton.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of a giant ants nest in outback Australia. Digging is not recommended.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ballad of the Drover

Words: Henry Lawson
Tune: Traditional

Across the stony ridges,
Across the rolling plain,
Young Harry Dale, the drover,
Comes riding home again.
And well his stock-horse bears him,
And light of heart is he,
And stoutly his old packhorse
Is trotting by his knee.

Up Queensland way with cattle
He's travelled regions vast,
And many months have vanished
Since home-folks saw him last.
He hums a song of someone
He hopes to marry soon;
And hobble-chains and camp-ware
Keep jingling to the tune.

Beyond the hazy dado
Against the lower skies
And yon blue line of ranges
The station homestead lies.
And thitherward the drover
Jogs through the lazy noon,
While hobble-chains and camp-ware
Are jingling to a tune.

An hour has filled the heavens
With storm-clouds inky black;
At times the lightning trickles
Around the drover's track;
But Harry pushes onward,
His horses' strength he tries,
In hope to reach the river
Before the flood shall rise.

The thunder, pealing o'er him,
Goes rumbling down the plain;
And sweet on thirsty pastures
Beats fast the plashing rain;
Then every creek and gully
Sends forth its tribute flood
The river runs a banker,
All stained with yellow mud.

Now Harry speaks to Rover,
The best dog on the plains,
And to his hardy horses,
And strokes their shaggy manes:
"We've breasted bigger rivers
When Hoods were at their height,
Nor shall this gutter stop us
From getting home tonight!"

The thunder growls a warning,
The blue, forked lightning's gleam;
The drover turns his horses
To swim the fatal stream.
But, oh! the flood runs stronger
Than e'er it ran before;
The saddle-horse is failing,
And only half-way o'er!

When flashes next the lightning
The flood's grey breast is blank;
A cattle-dog and packhorse
Are struggling up the bank.
But in the lonely homestead
The girl shall wait in vain
He'll never pass the stations
In charge of stock again.

The faithful dog a moment
Lies panting on the bank,
Then plunges through the current
To where his master sank.
And round and round in circles
He fights with failing strength,
Till, gripped by wilder waters,
He fails and sinks at length.

Across the flooded lowlands
And slopes of sodden loam
The packhorse struggles bravely
To take dumb tidings home;
And mud-stained, wet, and weary,
He goes by rock and tree,
With clanging chains and tinware
All sounding eerily.

Collected to this tune from Sally Sloane by John Meredith.