Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Station Cook

Words: Traditional
Tune: Traditional (Musselburgh Fair)

The song I'm going to sing to you will not detain you long
It's all about a station cook we had at old Pinyong
His pastry was so beautiful his cooking was so fine
It gave us all a stomach-ache right through the shearing-time

Oh you should see his plum-duffs his doughboys and his pies
I swear by Long Maloney they'd open a shearer's eyes
He'd say take your time, good fellows and he'd fix us with a glance
Saying I'll dish you up much better if you'll give me half a chance

Oh you should see his doughboys his dumplings and his pies
The thought of such luxuries would open a shearer's eyes
He gets up in the morning gives us plenty of stewed tea
And don't forget when shearing's done to sling the cook his fee

But oh dear! I feel so queer I don't know what to do
The thought of leaving Fowler's Bay just breaks my heart in two
But if ever I catch that slushy I'll make him rue the day
That he ruined my constitution while shearing at Fowler's Bay.

Lyrics from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs site.

Ron Edwards has the following note:

The Station Cook comes from the collection of Dr Percy Jones. According to English folklorist A.L. Lloyd it is sung to the Scottish melody "Musselburgh Fair".

The same tune is used for Lachlan Tigers.

The illustration to this post is a photograph entitled, A Station Cook, by Arthur Groom, held in his collection by the National Library of Australia.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Way to Gundagai

Words: Charles MacAlister?
Tune: Traditional

Oh, boys, you've heard of Gundagai - to see that town I meant;
And so, upon the southern road towards Gundagai I went.
At Sydney town with merchandise I loaded up my dray,
And signed to get to Gundagai in three weeks to a day:
But keep to that agreement it was in vain to try,
When in the rains of forty-nine I left for Gundagai.

To view the Murrumbidgee banks I had made up my mind,
So bid good-bye to all my friends, and left them far behind;
And by and by I camped a night at Jugiong so green:
"A pretty place - but Gundagai's a far more pretty scene"-
That was what the people said as they came passing by,
When we camped at "Sugar" O'Brien's Creek, two miles from Gundagai.

But when I got to Gundagai, so far, and far away,
My Mr Henry Turnbull he just refused to pay
He said. "I've missed the races here, and all because of you,
I will not pay a halfpenny, you're three days overdue."
"Well, then, Mr Turnbull, you're a paltry rogue," said I,
As homeward bound I started from the town of Gundagai.

When next the spires of Goulburn town most joyfully I hailed,
To Mr Walsh, the lawyer there, the man who never failed,
I took my tale of injury, and Mr Walsh full soon
Made Mr Henry Turnbull sing quite another tune;
For Mr Walsh "adduced the Law", and thus the foe at bay,
Alias Henry Turnbull, made haste his debt to pay.
And now a moral I would add - let Trader never try
To "sharp" an honest teamster on the road to Gundagai.

Originally published in "Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South" (1907), a limited 750 copy edition by Charles MacAlister.

These notes from John Meredith's transcription of MacAlister's book (p.139).

It was not long till the author again visited Gundagai, as about eight months later (in July, 1849) I met Henry Turnbull - a Gundagai storekeeper - at the Woolpack Hotel, Sydney, and agreed with him to take up two tons of loading at 10 pounds per ton. Our contract was that, bar accidents, the goods should be delivered at Gundagai within twenty-one days. However, owing to heavy weather it was twenty four days before we (the Author, and his old "second mate"...) reached the town. In our cargo there was a consignment of saddles and bridles, etc. required for the Gundagai Races and as the meeting was just over, Mr Turnbull, though he took delivery of the goods, refused to pay a penny for the carriage from Sydney. He said our delay had lost him fully 50 pounds, nad the race goods would be left on his hands for a long time. He also said that as we were four days behind time, he had no liability in the matter. On reaching home I put my case before the late Charles Hamilton Walsh (the lawyer), and Mr Walsh simply said, "Well, Charlie, before fourteen days go by he'll be glad to pay you every penny, and find my costs, too" ... I got the money due within the time stated... Upon this Gundagai incident I composed an effucion entitled, "The Road to Gundagai" which, I believe, had a slight "vogue" among the carriers on the main southern road for some years. It ran as follows: -

I've set this song to the tune of "The Widow and the Devil" for no other reason than that I like the combination. I'm not aware of the tune originally used.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Robbed Of All His Pay

Words: Alan Scott
Tune: Traditional

I've worked around this country at many a different trade,
But I cannot show a penny of the money I have made;
So if you'll pay attention, a song I'll sing to you,
About a young apprentice in nineteen-fify-two.

I started in a factory, 'twas early in the year,
But by the end of April some things were very clear --
The orders were all cancelled, the work was getting slack,
And so to cut expenses they gave five of us the sack.

As I was but a single man, it didn't worry me,
The married men were hardest hit, but the worst was yet to be,
An apprentice in his final year was robbed of all his pay,
Some dingo stole it from him in the dressing room that day.

The police came round next morning, and made an awful fuss,
And we were under notice so they thought 'twas one of us,
They didn't find who stole it but five men shared the blame,
I was glad that we were leaving, for I was filled with shame.

So listen all you people, don't steal a workmate's pay,
But if you want more money, there is another way,
If you back up your union, you'll get your just demands,
And thieving from the working man will vanish from the land.

From the Bush Music Club's Singabout, Volume 2, Number 4, May 1958.

Henry's Downfall


Come all you wild and wicked youths wherever you may be,
I pray you give attention and listen unto me,
The fate of us poor transports as you shall understand
The hardships we do undergo upon Van Diemen's Land.

Young men be aware
Lest you fall into a snare.

My parents reared me tenderly, good learning gave to me,
But bad companions did me spoil, which proved my destiny;
In Lancashire I was bred, near Bolton town did dwell,
My name it is young Henry, in Chorley known full well.

I and five more went one night into a squire's park,
In expectation of some game- the night being very dark,
But to our great misfortune they trepanned us with speed,
And sent us off to Lancashire which made our hearts to bleed.

It was at the March assizes we then did repair,
Like Job we stood with patience to hear our sentence there;
There being some old offenders, which made our case go bad,
My sentence was for fourteen years - I was quickly sent on board.

The ship that bore us from the land, the Speedwell was her name,
For full five months and upwards, boys, we ploughed the foaming main,
Neither land nor harbour could we see - believe me it is true
All around us black water, above the sky of blue.

I often looked behind me towards my native shore
That cottage of contentment that I never shall see more,
Nor yet my own dear father who tore his hoary hair,
Likewise my tender mother, the womb that did me bear.

On the fifteenth of September we soon did make the land,
At four o'clock we went on shore, all chained hand to hand,
To see our fellow-sufferers I felt I can't tell how -
Some chained unto a barrow and others to a plough.

No shoes nor stocking they had on, no hat had they to wear,
But a harden frock and linsey drawers - their feet and hands were bare.
They chained them up two and two, like horses in a team;
Their driver he stood over them with his Malacca cane.

We had a female servant, Rosanna was her name,
For fourteen years a convict was, from Liverpool she came,
We often told our tales of love when we were blest at home,
Now we are rattling of our chains in a foreign land to roam.

Then I was marched off to Sydney town, with little more delay,
Where a gentleman bought me his book-keeper to be;
I took this occupation, my master liked me well,
My joys were out of measure, more than my tongue can tell.

Described by Ron Edwards as "a little-known variant of the popular transportation ballad Van Diemen's Land" from a broadside at the Mitchell Library and set by Ron to "one of the most attractive of the Van Diemen's Land tunes".

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Blooming Queensland Side.


Oh, come with me, my pretty girl, now come away with me,
I'll take you o'er the borders and we'll leave this colony,
Come away, my heart's desire, my darling and my pride,
And I'll treat you like a lady, love, on the blooming Queensland side.

Victoria's going to the bad, this bullocky cannot live;
The price of cartage comes so low, the squatters nothing to give.
There's a railway in every corner, you can meet them at every stride,
So we'll away in the morning to the blooming Queensland side.

So have your things in readiness at the breaking of the day,
I'll take you to the parson, love, and the words o'er us he'll say.
When he has tied us two together with a knot that can't be untied,
Then we'll away in the morning to the blooming Queensland side.

I would like to know if you've been true, I would like to know that same,
You bullockies are such knowing chaps, you are up to every game.
Perhaps, with some young dashing bell a-walking by your side
You've been doing a little killing on the bloom Queensland side.

If old Whitefoot in the pole could speak, I bet he'd answer "No",
I always have been true to you wherever I did go.
And if I now prove false to you may the grave my body hide,
And I'll never set foot again on the blooming Queensland side.

I know my bullocky is true — was always always true to me,
I only wanted to try you and hear what you would say.
Then I will be a constant wife until death us divide,
Then you can marry the prettiest girl on the blooming Queensland side.

I'll teach you my darling, a damper how to bake,
Fry chops in the morning, and cook a brownie cake,
And on top of my wagon so gaily you will ride,
They will think you're Queen Victoria a-going for a drive.

It's over the pole each night we'll cast the canvas down,
And underneath its spreading folds we'll sleep both safe and sound,
The cold will never trouble you, for the weather is always mild,
And the summer breezes gently blow on the blooming Queensland side.

When over in Queensland you are arrived at home,
It's up and down the Condamine of an evening you can roam,
Enjoy yourself to your heart's content and cast dull care aside,
For you'll be the happiest bullocky's wife on the blooming Queensland side.

Another Australian variation on The Banks of the Nile.

The illustration to this post is a photograph from Lismore entitled Old Bullocky, 1890.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Rabbiter's Song.

Stan Wakefield

I read about the fortunes that the rabbiters make outback -
The sporting life and the lairy tales of prices fetched at Sydney sales,
So I started out across New South Wales on the roving rabbiters' track.

With a hool-em-up and a sool-em-up and the fool-em-up decoys;
The men who scalp the rabbiters are the Sydney market boys.

A free and independent life, a life of simple joys
I camped beneath an old belah ' and my tucker was mostly fried galah,
And I trapped 'em near and I trapped 'em far, for the Sydney market boys.

I poisoned out at Hillston, and I trapped at Gundagai,
I followed 'em over creeks and bogs, and chopped 'em out of hollow logs,
And tailed 'em up with yelping dogs, 'way back of Boggabri.

Besides the bunnies that you catch, there's things that you despise:
A hawk, a snake, a crow, a rat., a bandicoot, a tiger cat,
And when you're lucky, a lamb that's fat is a welcome enough surprise.

I skinned and scalped and scalped and skinned, till my back was nearly broke,
With blood and muck all stiff and brown, the stink of my clothes would knock you down,
And I slaved all day for half a crown for the Sydney market bloke.

I thought I'd get a snifter cheque for skins I sent from Bourke,
But the broker rogues in Sydney Town, they weigh them short and they grade them down,
And they sent me back three lousy pound, for a month of slavin' work.

Some day we're going to set our traps to catch the hungry crew
Who live on useful workers' sweat -- we'll stop their thieving racket yet,
And to make them earn their tucker, you bet, is the job for me and you.

With a hool-em-up and a sool-em-up,
And there'll be no more decoys;
Then a-hunting, hunting we will go
For the Sydney market boys.

Another from the Victorian Folk Music Club's Joy Durst Memorial Australian Song Collection.

These notes from Bob Bolton on Mudcat:

Stan (died early 1960s) wrote The Rabbiter's Song in the 1930s. It refers to the Government attempt to persuade the unemployed to go out and make money from trapping rabbits, instead of applying for the dole (which required working for the Government anyway - usually on public works programmes ... sometimes of utility and value).

Of course, when a whole mob of unemployed city slickers started sending off rabbit skins to the Sydney or Melbourne markets ... the price dropped (the law of supply and demand) as well as a number of the skins arriving rotten due to poor preparation. Anyway, there wasn't much money to be made in the game and Stan, being the good Left-winger that he was, wrote a beaut song and, being the competent musician that he was, wrote his own tune to it.

The illustration to this post is a photograph entitled, A Rabbiter's Pack, Darling District,, taken by Charles Kerry of Kerry and Co, sometime between 1884 and 1917.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Squatter of the Olden Time

Words: Unknown (Queenslander)
Tune: Henry Russell (Fine Old English Gentleman)

I'll sing to you a fine new song, made by my blessed mate,
Of a fine Australian squatter who had a fine estate,
Who swore by right pre-emptive at a sanguinary rate
That by his rams, his ewes, his lambs, Australia was made great
Like a fine Australian squatter, one of the olden time.

His hut around was hung with guns, whips, spurs, and boots and shoes.
And kettles and tin pannikins to hold the tea he brews;
And here his worship lolls at ease and takes.his smoke and snooze,
And quaffs his cup of hysonskin, the beverage old chums choose
Like a fine Australian squatter, one. of the olden time.

And when shearing time approaches he opens hut to all
And though ten ihousand are his flocks, he featly shears them all,
Even to the scabby wanderer you'd think no good at all;
For while he fattens all the great, he boils down all the small
Like a fine old Murray squatter, one of the olden time.

And when his worship comes to town his agents for to see,
His wool to ship, his beasts to sell, he lives right merrily;
The club his place of residence, as becomes a bush l.P.,
He darkly hints that Thompson's run from scab is scarcely free
This fine old Murray settler, one of the olden time.

And now his fortune he has made, to England straight goes he,
But finds with grief he's not received as he had hoped to be.
His friends declare his habits queer, his language much too free,
And are somewhat apt to cross the street, when him they chance to see
This fine Australlan squatter, the boy of the olden time.

Another variation of the Fine Old English Gentleman (see yesterday's post), this time from the Oakleigh Leader, Saturday 15 September, 1894 (

The illustration to this post is a hand-coloured lithograph, The Squatter's First Home, by Alexander Denistoun Lang (dated 1847 and held by the State Library of Victoria).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Fine Old Border Squatter

Words: Unknown (Giant Genius, after Sir Wm Norcott, Barr.)
Tune: Henry Russell (Fine Old English Gentleman)

I am a Border Squatter, I have both stock and run,
And twice a year I come to town to seek for spree and fun
And when I'm there I carry on, the Devil, he knows how,
I chitt the girls, I sell the duns, and kick up such a row,
Like a fine old Border Squatter, one of the olden time.

My hut is built wilth slabs, without window or with door,
The roof is covered in with bark, and mother earth the floor
The dogs they are my only friends, they do just as they please
While I sit smoking by the fire with comfort and with ease,
Like a fine old Border Squatter, one of the olden time.

My dray comes now and then from town and always brings good cheer
The neighbours then come flocking in from statlons far and near
And there we sit around our fire and smoke our pipes till black,
Our grog we drink, our songs we sing, and jokes of old we crack, -
Like a fine old Border Squatter, one of the olden time.

But all things here will have a change, the grog is it an end,
The merrie nights we oft have had and more we hope to spend
For aching head will sometimes come in spite of jovial heart
Altho' so gay before were we when to Adelaide we did start,
Like a fine old Border Squatter, one of the present day.

At Adelaide when arrived we find our taxes we have to pay
Alas! our licenses and assessments are doubled every day,
For if you are behind your time the Commissioner he'll say,
"I'll fine you sir, £100, that fine you'll have to pay,"
Like a poor tax ridden Squatter one of the olden time.

The money that I saved so long intending for a spree,
I find I have to pay away to a Government called free
My funds being thus brought to a close the duns now call for pay,
High time it is that I resolve from town to start away,
Like a poor tax ridden Squatter, one of the present day.

My horse stands saddled at the door, I quaft my parting glass,
And drink the health and bid adieu to every Adelaide lass,
Thus leaving all the duns behind, I seek again repose,
And seated by my own fireside I banish all my woes,
Like a fine old jolly Squatter, one of the olden time.

An Australian version of Henry Russell's much-parodied Fine Old English Gentleman. Dated 6 March, 1860 at Mount Gambier and published in the Portland and Normanby General Advertiser on 12 March that year.

The illustration to this post is a portrait of Henry Russell.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Bushranger, Jack Power

Words: Isaac Hall
Tune: Erin Go Bragh

On the 8th day of May, in the year 69
On a lovely spring morning, the weather 'being fine
A bolter from Pentridge, Jack Power by name
An aspirant for the gallows to Beechworth he came

Well armed, well mounted, the troops for his foes
To a scrub for concealment the highway man goes
From Beechworth to the Buckland and on the highway
Run Cobb & Co coaches by night & by day

Early one morning the outlaw approach'd
Towards Bowman's forest and he held up a coach
He held up two draymen and a new saddle stole
And a horse, and coach wheeler, it's true bless me soul

He met with a trooper near the small town of Yea
Good morning Sir Trooper my orders obey
Hand here that revolver or if you refuse
You must fight or deliver - pray which do you choose?

The trooper surrender'd his horse and his arms
Then hasten'd to Yea town to give the alarm
“Farewell "shouts the rover "This revolver's my shield
To the traps or the gallows I never will yield.”

We may sing of young Gilbert, Dan Morgan, Ben Hall
But the bold reckless robber surpasses them all
The pluck that is in him is beyond all belief
A daring young highwayman, a professional thief.

This column appeared in the Melbourne Argus newspaper on 19 August, 1950 above these lyrics (

Clive Turnbull Says:

A song from wilder days

YOU may remember thata few months ago we had quite a correspondence about the old song, "The Wild Colonial Boy."

Miss Elsie Heath of Grasmere, Sheep Hills, whose father was one of the pioneers of the Wimmera when it was thrown open for selection, writes that she has vivid recollections of the song as her father sang it to the children sitting 'round the fire on cold wintry nights - it varies slightly from the versions already published.

Better still, Miss Heath tells me that her mother, not long ago, found in her own mother's work box a cbpy of the song "Bushranger Jack Power."

It is written- on blue lined foolscap, still readable though worn, in a fine hand, and, Miss Heath suggests, is probably 80 years old. The signature, presumably of the writer, is Isaac Hall.

Here are Edgar Waters notes on this song to Gary Shearston's 1965 album, Bolters, Bushrangers and Duffers:

Henry (Jack) Power was an Irishman who arrived in Victoria in 1852 to look for gold. In 1855, police troopers asked him to prove that the horse he was riding was his own. Power fired his pistol at them and wounded one of the troopers; soon he was in gaol for fourteen years. He escaped when his time was almost up and took to highway robbery in northern Victoria. His career as a bushranger was short, however, and he was soon back in gaol for fifteen years.

Power was not one of the notable bushrangers, but the most notable of the Victorian bushrangers, Ned Kelly, was arrested in 1870 accused of giving help to Power. Kelly was fifteen years old at the time; he was discharged for lack of evidence.

Gary Shearston learnt this song from the singing of Alf Dyer, an old Victorian bushman (from a tape recording made by members of the Folk Lore Society of Victoria). In 1950, a correspondent sent an almost identical set of words to a Melbourne newspaper. She had taken them from a manuscript in her possession which she believed had been written in 1870 (the year in which Power was sentenced to gaol for highway robbery). The manuscript was signed Isaac Hall and named Erin-go-bragh as the tune to which the words should be sung. Alf Dyer sings the words to a rather worn-down version of the much-used tune known as Villikins and his Dinah. Erin-go-bragh (a Scottish song, despite its Irish name) is sometimes sung to this tune also.

The illustration to this post is a woodcut from the Illustrated News for Home Readers (June 18, 1870), Capture of Power, the Bushranger:

Shows Superintendents Nicolson and Hare with first-class Sargeant Montford all with guns drawn, taking Powers by surprise as he lay in a "gunyah" with his clothes on and a revolver at his side.

Bringing The Beer To Broome

Peter Lenne

I'll sing you a tale of a long lost ship
Ch: Bringing the beer to Broome
About it's last and fateful trip
Ch: Bringing the beer to Broome
Well it was sailed by Andy Jones
But never again you'll hear his moans
On the ocean floor he rests his bones
Ch: Bringing the beer to Broome

Ch: Bringing the beer to Broome boys
Bringing the beer to Broome
Andy's ships coming round the point
Bringing the beer to Broome

Now Andy was a sailor
Started on a whaler
Now he's got his very own boat
Does everything to keep it afloat
And the only hand is a drunken goat

Soon he'll try to cross that reef
T'was there he finally came to grief
But his cargos what we all admire
Temperature is getting higher
Throats becoming even drier

Well, the wind arose and blew aloud
The sky was covered thick with cloud
And Andy's boat began to sink
T'was right above the reef I think
And the beer was left for the fish to drink

Now Broome was dry for quite a while
It underwent a heavy trial
But all's well now in Broome you see
The town's now got its own brewery
T'was built in 1923

Now all this happened long ago
Andy's still remembered though
And now in Broome once every year
The sea is thrown a bottle of beer
In case old Andy's ghost is near

From Peter Lenne at Mudcat:

I wrote the song in 1966 and apart from family and friends the song was first performed at the Melbourne University Song Contest in 1968 and these are the original words.

The illustration to this post is not necessarily of a man in Broome drinking beer. It is the first result of a Google search for "Australian Beer Drinker" and seemed worthy of a link.

Carroty Kate

Words: Unknown
Tune: Dave Moran

It was at a back-track shanty where I was on the spree,
The ladies they were scanty, but the barmaid did for me.
Her hair was the colour of ginger, she could reckon you up on a slate,
My colonial, she was a swinger, and they called her Carroty Kate.

She was very fond of riding, as you can plainly see
For one fine day she rode away, with a chap from the Native Bee.

Now the shearing it was finished, and the rowdies rolling in,
My cheque had much diminished for Kate had got my tin.
I told her I'd burst like a bubble, if I didn't get her for a mate,
But, oh she saved me the trouble, did deceitful Carroty Kate.

I had bought her a pigskin saddle, a pretty piebald hack,
I "pitched" my sheep and cattle, for the station was just Outback:
When I asked her for to marry, I saw her hesitate,
For a fellow they call Flash Harry had been spooning with Carroty Kate.

Now he kept pitching nuggets and I kept pitching stock,
He pitched the biggest druggets and to my pitching he put a stop:
Now whether 'twas the gold or the riches that down the gully he'd rake
Or whether it was his boots or breeches-but he'd "pinched" my Carroty Kate.

An Australian variant of English broadside ballad, The Calico Printer's Clerk, that song being set to this tune by Dave Moran of The Halliard and recorded by that group in 1968. Available on their 2005 release, Broadside Songs.

Another from the seemingly endless resource that is Mudcat (and Bob Bolton, of course!).

Sunday, September 18, 2011



Come all you young fellows
Whereso'er you may be
Come listen a while to my story

When I was a young man
Me age seventeen
I ought to been serving Victoria, our Queen
But those hard-hearted judges
Oh, how cruel they be
To send us poor lads to Australia

I fell in with a damsel
She was handsome and gay
I neglected me work
More and more, every day
And to keep her like a lady
I went on the highway
And for that I was sent to Australia

Now the judges, they stand
With their whips in their hands
They drive us like horses
To plough up the land
You should see us poor young fellows
Working in that jail yard
How hard is our fate in Australia

Australia, Australia
I would ne'er see no more
Worn out with fever
Cast down to Death's door
But should I live to see
Say, seven years more
I would then say adieu to Australia

A variant of Virgina. These lyrics from Mudcat, where you will find several verions.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Botany Bay - A New Song

Words: Unknown
Tune: Traditional (I've Been A Wild Boy)

Let us drink a good health to our schemers above,
Who at length have contriv'd from this land to remove
Thieves, robbers, and villains, and send them away
To become a new people at Botany Bay.

Such men as have talents, and trades to get bread,
Yet spunge on the public to be cloathed and fed;
Who spend all they get, and turn night into day,
Such sots should be all sent to Botany Bay.

When gay powder'd coxcombs and proud dressy fops,
With very small fortunes set up in great shops;
If they run into debt:—with design not to pay,
They should all be transported to Botany Bay.

The bankrupt who gets his certificate sign'd,
And once more to take in his friends is inclin'd;
All such depredators our ships should convey,
With other less villains, to Botany Bay.

The tradesmen who play at cards, billiards, and dice,
Must pay for their goods an extravagant price;
No, faith, I'm mistaken,—such rogues never pay,
And therefore should all go to Botany Bay.

If at an election an agent is found
Corrupting the voters, or handing bribes round;
Such dabblers in dirty work, send them away,
With those that employ them, to Botany Bay.

When men that are married to good-natur'd wives
Run after lewd wenches, and lead debauch'd lives,
Our wise legislature should send such away
To support their new system at Botany Bay.

The night-walking strumpets that swarm in each street,
Proclaiming their calling to each man they meet,
Are become such a pest, that without more delay,
Those despoilers of youth should be sent to the Bay.

If any proud parson his flock should neglect,
And more than his bible the tythe laws inspect,
Or if he's too lazy to preach or to pray,
Such a drone would be sent out to Botany Bay.

When clerical coxcombs affect the bon ton,
Keep hunters, grooms, footmen, girls, dogs, and a gun;
Much more than their income they squander away,
And are very fit objects for Botany Bay.

If monopolizers will add to their store,
By cruel oppression, and squeezing the poor,
Or jobbers or farmers grow rich in that way,
Such foes to the public should go to the Bay.

If great men above, or our gentry below,
Who talk much of honour, and make a great show,
If they the poor tradesmen don't annually pay,
Send off such defaulters to Botany Bay.

When lecherous whoremasters practise vile arts,
To ruin young virgins, and break parents' hearts,
Or from the fond husband the wife leads astray,
Let such debauch'd stallions be sent to the Bay.

When rakes are promoted they ought to be watch'd,
For some will pass sentence on girls they've debauch'd;
If men break the peace—who to keep peace are paid,
Send off such transgressors to Botany Bay.

Then whores, pimps, and bastards, a large costly crew,
Maintain'd by the sweat of the labouring few,
Should have no commissions, place, pension, or pay;
Such locusts should all go to Botany Bay.

And that our foul nation may cleanly be swept,
Send off all the keepers as well as the kept;
Who beggars his children his bunter to pay,
Should work for a breakfast at Botany Bay.

The hulks and the jails have some thousands in store,
But out of the gaols are ten thousand times more
Who live by fraud, cheating, vile tricks, and foul play,
And should all be sent over to Botany Bay.

Should any take umbrage at what I have writ,
And here find a bonnet, or cap that will fit;
To such I have only this one word to say,—
They're welcome to wear it to Botany Bay.

From the County Magazine, November, 1786.

There is a discussion on Mudcat of this and a (possibly earlier) alternate version.

A version has been recorded by Warren Fahey to a different tune on his Rare Convict Ballads and Broadsides album. (Villikins and his Dinah is sometimes suggested as a tune for this one, but I found it a bit too jaunty.)

The illustration to this post is a lithograph, A government jail gang, Sydney NSW, (Augustus Earle, 1830, lithograph), Rex Nan Kivell Collection, National Library of Australia.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Stockman

Words: Unknown
Tune: Allan Cunningham (A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea)

A bright sun and a loosened rein,
A whip whose pealing sound
Rings forth amid the forest trees
As merrily forth we bound—
As merrily forth we bound, my boys,
And, by the dawn’s pale light,
Speed fearless on our horses true
From morn till starry night.

“Oh! for a tame and quiet herd,”
I hear some crawler cry;
But give to me the mountain mob
With the flash of their tameless eye—
With the flash of their tameless eye, my boys,
As down the rugged spur
Dash the wild children of the woods,
And the horse that mocks at fear.

There’s mischief in you wide-horned steer,
There’s danger in you cow;
Then mount, my merry horsemen all,
The wild mob’s bolting now—
The wild mob’s bolting now, my boys,
But ’twas never in their hides
To show the way to the well-trained nags
That are rattling by their sides.

Oh! ’tis jolly to follow the roving herd
Through the long, long summer day,
And camp at night by some lonely creek
When dies the golden ray.
Where the jackass laughs in the old gum tree,
And our quart-pot tea we sip;
The saddle was our childhood’s home,
Our heritage the whip.

This parody of Allan Cunningham's A Wet Sheet and A Flowing Sea is from Paterson's Old Bush Songs.

Allan Cunningham portrait by Henry Room (1840)

Bound For Darling Harbour

Merv Lilley

Northern Queensland is my home,
Fire away, fire away
Northern Queensland is my home,
We're bound for Darling Harbour
Fire away, fire away
Fire away, you stokehole crew
We're bound for Darling Harbour

Queensland mills are crushing now,
Raw sugar stacked up to the bow

Down that deep and gloomy hole
A thousand tons of Bowen coal

Coal burning ships have seen their day
Oil is here and come to stay

Our hearts are sad, our hearts are sore
To see old firemen left ashore

Our ships will sail inland one day
To float the nations goods away

Now fare you well and fare you well
A last farewell to the stokehole hell.

Published as "A new song to an old shanty tune" in Singabout, Volume 1, Number 1, Summer 1956.

The illustration to this post is from and shows cargo being loaded in Townsville in 1910.

Colonial Experience

Words: Unknown
Tune: So Early in the Morning

When first I came to Sydney Cove
And up and down the streets did rove,
I thought such sights I ne’er did see
Since first I learnt my A, B, C.


Oh! it’s broiling in the morning,
It’s toiling in the morning,
It’s broiling in the morning,
It’s toiling all day long.

Into the park I took a stroll—
I felt just like a buttered roll.
A pretty name “The Sunny South!”
A better one “The Land of Drouth!”

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Next day into the bush I went,
On wild adventure I was bent,
Dame Nature’s wonders I’d explore,
All thought of danger would ignore.

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

The mosquitoes and bull-dog ants
Assailed me even through my pants.
It nearly took my breath away
To hear the jackass laugh so gay!

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

This lovely country, I’ve been told,
Abounds in silver and in gold.
You may pick it up all day,
Just as leaves in autumn lay!

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Marines will chance this yarn believe,
But bluejackets you can’t deceive.
Such pretty stories will not fit,
Nor can I their truth admit.

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Some say there’s lots of work to do.
Well, yes, but then, ’twixt me and you,
A man may toil and broil all day—
The big, fat man gets all the pay,

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Mayhap such good things there may be,
But you may have them all, for me,
Instead of roaming foreign parts
I wish I’d studied the Fine Arts!

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

From Banjo Paterson's Old Bush Songs (1906).

The illustration to this post is from the National Library of Australia collection:

Moore, E. C. (Edward Charles)
[A new chum and a dirty man having a discussion] [picture]

The Jolly Puddlers


Charles Thatcher 

They want to stop our puddling as many of you know 
Contractors say that of our slush there is an overflow 
But if they stop us they'll be sure to injure Bendigo 

Drive on my lads, heigho, wash on my lads, heigho 
For who can lead the life that we jolly puddlers do. 

These blessed road contractors are trying us to crush 
They say that they're impeded by our muddy dirty slush 
They want to make us knock off but they'll find it is no go 

Why have our escorts fallen off, the questions pray don't shirk 
'Tis because it's been so dry and our machines have had no work, 
'Tis puddling not quartz reefing now that keeps up Bendigo. 

If you crush the puddling interest and stay the puddler's hand, 
What becomes of your fine buildings here that on the township stand? 
The commerce of the this district then would sink down precious low. 

The winter soon is coming and our dams will then be full. 
We'll run the stuff through the machines and then we'll have a pull 
And it its pristine glory will shine forth Bendigo. 

The days of tub and cradle, alas, alas are past, 
An ounce to every tub of course, was far too good to last, 
But still we get a crust for now we wash the stuff below. 

When puddling ceases for all here 'twill be a bitter cup, 
Heffernan and Thatcher too may both of them dry up, 
And to some other diggings they both will have to go. 

From The Joy Durst Memorial Australian Song Collection, published by the Victorian Folk Music Club, 1980.

The illustration to this post is from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries website, with the following caption: 

A horse-driven puddling machine in Central Victoria in the 1880s. Horse puddlers processed four times more sludge than a hand puddler. They created havoc in the creeks of Central Victoria as the fine sludge they produced was the consistency of batter. This clogged up waterways, flooding towns and goldfields.

Mazlin's Mill

Words: Unkown
Tune: Traditional (Freedom's on the Wallaby)

Now I'm a bullock driver and I work for Mazlin's Mill
And pulling timber from Vine Creek I've nearly had my fill
And when the rain it comes at last, the roads they are like glue
It's dig her out, or double-bank to find the balance due

The cutters are no better off, at us they cannot grin
For when they get their timber cut they cannot get it in
And my advice to you my boys, please do not take it ill
Far better turn your bullocks out than work for Mazlin's Mill

Ron Edward's notes:

Mazlin's Mill was collected by John Meredith, and appeared in "Challenge" 10 February, 1954. According to Meredith's correspondent this particular Vine Creek is near Ravenshoe, N.Q., and the song dates from the thirties.

The tune is given as "Freedom on the Wallaby", (better known as "Australia's on the Wallaby").

The four Mazlin brothers were pioneer timbermen in the Atherton area of North Queensland, and the creek that runs through the town of Atherton is named after one of them.

Will Mazlin's timber mill was on Cedar Creek, Ravenshoe, and a recent informant tells me that Will may still be alive. When last heard of he was living in Brisbane. In "Folksongs of Australia" the title is given as MAZLIM"S MILL, but this is an error.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of the Mazlin Creek Bridge, Atherton.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No Man's Land.

Eric Bogle

Well, how'd you do, Private Willie McBride,
D'you mind if I sit down down here by your graveside?
I'll rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
Been walking all day, Lord, and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
I hope you died quick and I hope you died "clean,"
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered ye down?
Did the bugles sing "The Last Post" in chorus?
Did the pipes play the "Flowers O' The Forest"?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger, without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Well, the sun's shining down on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it's still No Man's Land;
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man.
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

And I can't help but wonder now, Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you "the cause?"
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it's all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

One of Eric's best-known songs.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Last Work, We Go Home


We been leaving Mackay,
Going to Bell Cay, eh
For our work, our work,
Last work this year now, eh.
Last work, we go home,
Last work, we go home,
Back again, eh,
For our home, our home far away,
I won't come back any more, South, eh
Last work, we go home,
Last work, we go home,
Back again, eh,
For our home, our home far away,
I won't come back any more, South, eh

From Ron Edwards Big Book of Australian Folk Song with the following notes:

LAST WORK WE GO HOME is a homesick cry from the trochus boats. It was sung to me by Mat. Savage, who learned it while working as a shell diver. The song tells of the final trip before the close of season after which the luggers will head north to Thursday Island and home, before the coming of the monsoons.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Trying To Get A Quid

Words: Unknown
Tune: Unknown (Betting the Roll on Roma)

The old man sat on the tractor seat
There was dust in his hair and grease on his feet
And he said, "This job has got me beat"
Trying to get a quid"

The pressure's low and the engine's hot
The tracks are crook and the gears are shot,
But this old bitch is all I got
Trying to get a quid

He charged down the slope with a mighty roar
He turned on the taps as he hit the floor
And he made the other side, full bore
Trying to get a quid

The scoop got snagged on a big white rock
And he raved and cursed as he did his block,
With the governor over the safety stop,
Trying to get a quid

But he was insured for twenty grand,
Which the company paid on his wife's demand,
And she said as she took the cash in hand,
"At last he's earned a quid"

The moral here is plainly seen
Don't mess about with an old machine
Or cover yourself with diesoline
Trying to get a quid

Collected in 1972 by Ron Edwards from Harry Dawkins, an informant from Cairns, who in turn learnt it from a friend.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tomahawking Fred (The Ladies Man)

Words: Unknown
Tune: Unknown (Fashionable Fred)

Now some shearing I have done, and some prizes I have won
Through my knuckling down so close on the skin
But I'd rather tomahawk every day and shear a flock
For that's the only way I make some tin

I am just about to cut out for the Darling
To turn a hundred out I know the plan
Give me sufficient cash, and you'll see me make a splash
For I'm Tomahawking Fred, the lady's man

Put me on a shearing floor, and it's there I'm game to bet
That I'd give to any ringer ten sheep start
When on the whipping side far away from them I slide
Just like a bullet or a dart.

Of me you might have read for I'm Tomahawking Fred
My shearing laurels are known both near and far
I'm the don of Riverine, midst the shearers cut a shine
And our tar-boys say I never call for tar

Wire in and go ahead, for I'm Tomahawking Fred
In a shearing shed, my lads, I cut a shine
There is Roberts and Jack Gunn, shearing laurels they have won
But my tally's never under ninety-nine

A variant of a nineteenth century music hall song, Fashionable Fred (noted by Warren Fahey as from the Australian Melodist Songster).

These lyrics from Ron Edwards and Mark Gregory.

The following notes to Gary Shearston's, The Springtime It Brings On The Shearing Volume 2, are by Edgar Waters:

There was a London music-hall song about Fashionable Fred:

Yes, I'm just about the cut for Belgravia,
To keep the proper pace I know the plan.
Wire in and go ahead then, for Fashionable Fred,
I'm Fashionable Fred, the ladies' man.

Some shearer took the tune, and re-wrote the words so that they told about Tomahawking Fred the shearer. He was called Tomahawking Fred because he cut sheep whilst shearing.

Jack Bradshaw, who called himself the Last of the Bushrangers, published the words of this song in one of his books about bushranging, in the 1930s. But it was only recently that collectors from the Folk Lore Society of Victoria found an old bushman, Harvey Games, who remembered the tune as it was used in the bush. He remembered only some of the words, so this version uses his tune and Jack Bradshaw's words.

knuckling down so close upon the skin - shearing the wool off so close to the skin.
tomahawk - shear unskilfully, so as to cut the sheep.
tin - money.
the don of Riverine - recognised as a man of importance in the Riverina, a region of southern New South Wales.

The illustration for this post is from the 1872, “Gazette of Fashion and Cutting-Room Companion”, a tailoring trade journal published during the 19th century in London. [Google Books]

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Am A Squatter Bold And Free


I am a squatter bold and free,
A man of thews and sinews
No stockman harder rides than me,
Nor longer out continues

My fleecy coats are thousands ten,
My horned heads, ten hundred,
I and twenty shepherd men,
From local life are sundered.

No church, shop, tavern near the place,
No letter bag goes through it,
No lovely woman's smiling face
For I can't afford to do it.

From Ron Edwards, Big Book of Australian Folk Song with the following notes:

I AM A SQUATTER BOLD AND FREE does not appear to have been collected before, although a few northern bushmen, including Mick Ryan of Cooktown, can recall having heard in the early days, around the turn of the century. It was collected by Wendy Lowenstein and me from Stan Boyd of Cooktown on 27 November, 1969.

At the time of taping the tune, he recalled learning it as a small child in Coen, northern Queensland. The reference to shepherds in relation to sheep and cattle would suggest that the song dates from the 1850s or even earlier.

The illustration to this post is from Bonzle:

W. Alderson, head stockman on Stoneland Station, prepares to mount his horse. His dog sits alongside.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Hut That's Upside Down

Me name is Bobby Ambelet, to Glasgow I belong,
I've just stepped in among you all to sing to you a song
I've travelled about the counteree to places of renown.
But now I'm anchored hard and fast
In the hut that's upside down.

The cook he danced the Highland fling,
Oh, laddie plays the lute;
The little boy from Burraway,
He played upon the flute.
Scotty sings "The Mulberry Tree"
And all dull care is flown,
We're happy as larks out in the park,
In the hut that's upside down.

The shearing, it has now begun, the machines are doing well,
The little shears, they go "click-click", and the wool rolls off pell-mell,
The tramway runs around the board, the boys are flying 'round,
And the cook is lashing the brownie out,
In the hut that's upside down.

At night we pass the hours away at euchre, nap and bluff,
Some will rhyme to kill their time, while others blow their stuff,
There was prime roast beef for dinner, and the duff was served around;
We're getting as fat as poisoned pups
In the hut that's upside down.

The other night I went to read and went to sleep quite sound,
I thought the hut was all "a-jee" and I was on the ground,
When I awoke to my surprise, the boys were standing round,
And gave three cheers for Willie the cook,
In the hut that's upside down.

From Authentic Australian Bush Ballads, edited by John Meredith and Alan Scott for the Bush Music Club.

Collected from Mary and Tom Byrnes and published with the following note:

A shearer's song composed at the time when machine shearing was first introduced. It gives a good description of life in the men's hut after the day's work was over.

The illustration to this post is a wood engraving, SHEARERS' HUT AT NIGHT TIME (December 26, 1884) from the State Library of Victoria collection.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Two Professional Hums

Words: Unknown
Tune: Three Jolly Lads Are We (?)

Come all you jovial fellows and listen to me chums,
And I'll relate to you the story of two professional hums,
Who travelled England, Ireland; all over Scotland too,
And took an oath in Bendigo, no more work they would do.

No more work they would do boys, troll old army dough boys,
Humming a drink where 'ere we could, sing fol the righty-o,
For we are hums and jolly good chums, we live like Royal Turks,
And if we've luck we'll hum our cheques and shoot the man who works.

We asked a lady, the other day, for something for to eat,
A little bit of chicken or a little bit of meat,
A little bit of turkey or a little bit of ham,
A half-a-dozen loaves of bread and a bucket full of jam.

Or anything at all, Mam, for we're nearly starving,
Anything to help a poor joker on his way,
For we are hums and jolly good chums, we live like Royal Turks,
And if we've luck we'll hum our cheques and shoot the man who works.

A farmer asked me the other day, "If I would go to graft?"
Says I, "What is the work ?", says he, "A-cutting of some chaff"
Says I, "What is the payment?" - 'A dollar and a half's the sum"
Says I, "Why don't you go shoot yourself! For we would rather hum

Than work upon the harvest and let the cockles starve us."
Humming a drink where 'ere we go, singing fol the righty-o,
For we are hums and jolly good chums, we live like Royal Turks,
And if we've luck we'll hum our cheques and shoot the man who works.

So to conclude and finish, the remainder of my song,
The song that was proposed, me boys, by two professional hums.
Who travelled England, Ireland; all over Scotland too,
And took an oath in Bendigo, no more work they would do.

No more work they would do boys, troll old army dough boys,
Humming a drink where 'ere they could, sing fol the righty - o
For we are hums and jolly good chums, we live like Royal Turks,
And if we've luck we'll hum our cheques and shoot the man who works.

Warren Fahey collected this song from Harry Chaplin as well as a snippet of the same from Matron Williams, both from the Broken Hill area. Warren gives the following note with the lyrics:

Matron Williams knew a version of 'Three Jolly Lads Are We', which is a song that appeared in A B Paterson's 1905 collection of Old Bush Songs. The fact that I also collected a full text of the song from Harry Chaplin, also of Broken Hill, points to widespread popularity of the song in that particular district. The interesting aspect is that both versions differ considerably.

I've been unable to track down the original song in the version of Old Bush Songs to which I have access. Any help would be appreciated to round out this post.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Sheep-Washers Lament

Words: Unknown
Tune: Traditional Irish (The Bonny Irish Boy)

Come now, ye sighing washers all,
Join in my doleful lay,
Mourn for the times none can recall,
With hearts to grief a prey.
We’ll mourn the washer’s sad downfall
In our regretful strain,
Lamenting on the days gone by
Ne’er to return again.

When first I went a-washing sheep
The year was sixty-one,
The master was a worker then,
The servant was a man;
But now the squatters, puffed with pride,
They treat us with disdain;
Lament the days that are gone by
Ne’er to return again.

From sixty-one to sixty-six,
The bushman, stout and strong,
Would smoke his pipe and whistle his tune,
And sing his cheerful song,
As wanton as the kangaroo
That bounds across the plain.
Lament the days that are gone by
Ne’er to return again.

Supplies of food unstinted, good,
No squatter did withhold.
With plenty grog to cheer our hearts,
We feared nor heat nor cold.
With six-and-six per man per day
We sought not to complain.
Lament the days that are gone by
Ne’er to return again.

With perfect health, a mine of wealth,
Our days seemed short and sweet,
On pleasure bent our evenings spent,
Enjoyment was complete.
But now we toil from morn till night,
Though much against the grain,
Lamenting on the days gone by,
Ne’er to return again.

I once could boast two noble steeds,
To bear me on my way,
My good revolver in my belt,
I never knew dismay.
But lonely now I hump my drum
In sunshine and in rain,
Lamenting on the days gone by
Ne’er to return again.

A worthy cheque I always earned,
And spent it like a lord.
My dress a prince’s form would grace.
And spells I could afford.
But now in tattered rags arrayed,
My limbs they ache with pain,
Lamenting on the days gone by,
Ne’er to return again.

May bushmen all in unity
Combine with heart and hand,
May cursed cringing poverty
Be banished from the land.
In Queensland may prosperity
In regal glory reign,
And washers in the time to come
Their vanished rights regain.

From Paterson's Old Bush Songs, this complaint of declining conditions from the perspective of a dying industry.

These notes from Wikipedia:

Up until the 1870s squatters washed their sheep in nearby creeks prior to shearing.[4] Later some expensive hot water installations were constructed on some of the larger stations for the washing.[5] Sheep washing in Australia was influenced by the Saxony sheep breeders in Germany who washed their sheep and by the Spanish practice of washing the wool after shearing. There were three main reasons for the custom in Australia:
The English manufacturers demanded that Australian woolgrowers provide their fleeces free from vegetable matter, burrs, soil, etc.
The dirty fleeces were hard to shear and demanded that the metal blade shears be sharpened more often.
Wool in Australia was carted by bullock team or horse teams and charged by weight. Washed wool was lighter and did not cost as much to transport.
The practice of washing the wool rather than the sheep evolved from the fact that hotter water could be used to wash the wool, than that used to wash the sheep. When the practice of selling wool in the grease occurred in the 1890s, wool washing became obsolete.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of sheep-washing in the West Sussex village of Burnham around the turn of the twentieth century.

Female Transport


Come all young girls, both far and near and listen unto me
While unto you I do unfold what proved my destiny
My mother died when I was young, it caused me to deplore
And I did get my way too soon upon my native shore

Sarah Collins is my name most dreadful is my fate
My father reared me tenderly the truth I do relate
Till enticed by bad company along with many more
It led to my discovery upon my native shore

My trial it approached fast before the judge I stood
And when the judge's sentence passed it fairly chilled my blood
Crying you must be transported for fourteen years or more
And go from hence across the seas unto Van Diemen's shore

It hurt my heart when on a coach I my native town passed by
To see so many I did know it made me heave a sigh
Then to a ship was sent with speed along with many more
Whose aching hearts did grieve to go unto Van Diemen's shore

The sea was rough ran mountains high with us poor girls 'twas hard
No one but God to us came nigh no one did us regard
At length alas we reached the land it grieved us ten times more
That wretched place Van Diemen's Land far from our native shore

They chained us two by two and whipped and lashed along
They cut off our provisions if we did the least thing wrong
They march us in the burning sun until our feet are sore
So hard's our lot now we are got to Van Diemen's shore

We labour hard from morn to night until our bones do ache
Then every one they must obey their mouldy beds must make
We often wish when we lay down we ne'er may rise no more
To meet our savage Governor upon Van Diemen's shore

Every night when I lay down I wet my straw with tears
While wind upon that horrid shore did whistle in our ears
Those dreadful beasts upon that land around our cots do roar
Most dismal is our doom upon Van Diemen's shore

Come all young men and maidens do bad company forsake
If tongue can tell our overthrow it will make your heart to ache
Young girls I pray be ruled by me your wicked ways give o'er
For fear like us you spend your days upon Van Diemen's shore

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

Printed in Geoffrey C. Ingleton's True Patriots All , taken from the rare broadside in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. Nearly 25,000 women and girls were transported half to NSW and half to Van Diemen's Land. About half of them were from Ireland. The women were often transported with their children. This tune was collected by Lucy Broadwood in England with the song 'Van Dieman's Land'.

The illustration to this post is a painting by Augustus Earle (1793-1838), Female Penitentiary or Factory, Parramatta, Rex Nan Kivell Collection NK12/47, National Library of Australia.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Melbourne Cup

Words: Unknown
Tune: Traditional (The Camooweal Races)

I went to see the Melbourne Cup
The Derby and the rest.
But of all the races I have seen.
The Cup it was the best.
There were but sixteen starters,
The pace was very fast.
And what we know, young Hales came home,
The winner at the last.

Go it Tommy Hales, my boy.
And I will back on you.
Hold him in a little while
And he will pull you through.
For if you win this race today,
You're the champion of the land.
And so he did, he won it too
The Melbourne Cup so grand.

Another from The Big Book of Australian Folk Song.:

The Melbourne Cup was collected in 1957 from Mr Brisbane, 81, of Hawthorn, Vic. He told me that when he was a boy he often heard songs of this nature being sung in the streets of Melbourne by broadside sellers. He said that frequently they were printed before a big race and were regarded as forecasts.

If this one belonged to that class then it was a sound tip, for the winner of the 1880 Melbourne Cup was Grand Flaneur, rider T Hales.

The Melbourne Cup is Australia's best known horse race.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of Grand Flaneur.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bill and the Bear

John Thompson

1. Come listen now, good people here
To a story of renown
of the day a hundred years ago
when the circus came to town
Mr Wirth and all his gallant crew
They raised the big top high
And all the folk for miles around
Gathered under a canvas sky

And were you there in the clear night air
when William Sinclair he fought the bear
Were you there to see William Sinclair
When he wrestled the bear to the ground

2. There were dancing ponies and tumbling clowns
The best you ever did see
A lion tamer and a high wire act
A girl on the flying trapeze
There was a fat ring-master in a big top hat
And he slashed his whip through the air
With a roar and a growl, a cage went clang
It was samson the mighty bear

3. He was ten feet high, he was nine feet wide
A mountain of muscle and fur
A mighty beast just as black ar the coal
The ground shook with his roar
Then the man with the whip He called for quiet
not a sound from those who were there
I've a crisp ten pounds for any man here
Who's brave enough to wrestle a bear.

4. Bill and his family had come to see the show
his youngest newly born
The strongest man to ever walk the range
He'd carry his weight in corn
he sized up the beast, with a glance at his wife
he slowly raised his hand
"I'll have a go", he heard himself say
then up struck the band

5. Stripped to the waist, bill entered the ring
Circling and bouncing round
First left, then right, 'til he lunged right in
The crowd didn't make a sound
They twisted and they turned as they wrestled and they grappled
At the skin and the muscle and the hair
With a mighty roar, Bill threw Samson down
He raised his fist in the air

6. You've never heard a roar quite like it
The shouts split the midnight air
Bill was raised above all the heads of the crowd
to the cheers of everyone there
And to this day, when you see the name
of the famous Bill Sinclair
Raise your glass and drink to the health
Of the only man to ever beat the bear.

The true story of a Glaswegian emigrant to Australia, William Sinclair, who became famous in the Maleny District of South-East Queensland for defeating a bear in a wrestling match when a circus visited Landsborough in the early 20th Century.

This track from cloudstreet's Circus of Desires album.

This post is dedicated to Bill's grandson, Leslie Norman ("Nugget") Sinclair who died at the age of 92 on 26 August, 2011.

The illustration to this post is from a 1940s American sideshow poster.