Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wollongong and Illawarra

Words: Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (Roy's Wife)

Wollongong and Illawarra
Wollongong and Illawarra
Native poets yet will sing
Of Wollongong and Illawarra

The times may take a sulky fit
Like any honest married womand,
Whose husband is what she is not,
For she's a mind above the common.

But nature here forever smiles,
Her mountain paths lead up to heaven
Where sight and sounds the soul beguiles
Of every ounce of earthly leaven.

As I went up to Jamberoo
I met so many pleasant people
'Twas still "Good Day" and "How d'ye do?"
And "How are all around the steeple?"

I thanked them asking, "How are you?"
And how are little Tom and Kitty?
And that sweet infant? - well I vow,
I never saw a child so pretty".

And then the pigs would gracious grunt,
The dog would set the tail a-shaking,
And wives would, smiling say, "Now won't
You just step in and taste the bacon?"

"With all my heart," so in I went,
And found their weather-boarded dwelling
So clean, so neat, that sweet content,
Reflected, saw her bosom swelling.

This fact, e'er since I crossed the seas,
I rarely fail at meals to utter,
That Bathurst stands unmatched for cheese,
And Wollongong for yellow butter.

Health, wealth and joyous, happy days,
To Wollongong and Illawarra,
They well deserve a poet's praise,
The honest folks of Illawarra.

From Ron Edwards' Big Book of Australian Folk Songs and Keesing and Stewart's Old Bush Songs.

Imagine the exhilarating time you could have with someone who never fails to mention at dinner that Bathurst makes the best cheese in the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Basic Wage Dream

Don Henderson

I dreamed a doctor told a judge from the Arbitration Court
That he would only live to preside on one more case being fought.
The judge whose conscience was ill at ease thought if this case will be my last,
To hand down a fair decision might make up for his unjust past.

The next case that was to come before this very worried sage,
Was a request to raise by fifty-two bob the weekly basic wage.
The old chap granted the raise in full and to assure his place in heaven,
Made the payments retrospective to nineteen hundred and seven.

On the first pay day after the trial I couldn't believe my luck,
The paymaster brought my wages out on a fork lift truck,
I dreamed we got paid on a Friday and on that lovely night,
Mayne Nickless sent an armoured car to get me home all right.

On the way we stopped at the R.S.L. and as I walked inside,
A poker machine took a look at my pay and committed suicide.
I turned around when I heard a man behind me softly speak,
It was Dr. Coombs trying to borrow a quid to see him through the week.

The alarm went off and I recalled as I was waking up,
How people dream they saw the horse that won the Melbourne Cup,
But they can't remember what number it was, well my dream was just the same
For I can't for the very life of me think of that judge's name.

Another great song from the pen of one of the Australian folk movement's most prolific and powerful songwriters.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Carrier's Song

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (Bow, Wow, Wow)

To sing you all a pleasant song, I now feel in the mind, sir,
For travelling on the road each day, there's something strange you'll find, sir.
It's strange to know the once-good tracks, no longer we can trust, sir,
For every road we travel now, there's nothing there but dust, sir.

Dust, dust, dust,
Along the roads there's nothing there but dust, dust, dust.

I pity those poor carriers, who on the road oft travel,
With gibs of horses quite knocked up by ruts and sand and gravel.
No water on the way they find, though they in vain may seek, sir,
For dust has filled each waterhole, each gully and dry creek, sir.

If to New England e'er they go, and take much heavy loading,
I fear they'll find their horses then  will need some extra goading,
As stuck upon the Moonbi Range, in them they cannot trust, sir;
Do all they can they will not pull the high load through the dust, sir.

Now, too much rain's a different thing to what we do require
In rainy weather well you know, you can't keep in the fire;
As stuck upon the creek you ask to get a pull out,
From some bull-puncher who has just got his own team with wool out.

Rain, rain, rain,
Along the road there's nothing there but rain, rain, rain.

So now I've sung in humble rhyme the trails of the road, sir,
Of what a driver must endure, who takes a heavy load, sir;
How he may be stuck fast enough, for many, many weeks, sir,
Though 'twould be naught if government would only bridge the creeks, sir.

From Warren Fahey's Australian Folk Songs and Bush Ballads.

The illustration is a photograph by AJ Campbell from around 1900 entitled, Bogged.  From the collection of Museum Victoria.

The Kennedy Men

Words:  Unknown (Remos)
Tune:  Traditional (Bonnie Dundee)

The Northernmost part of bonnie Queensland
Is held in possession by stout heart and hand
Twas settled by us who came out here and then
We were known in the world as the Kennedy men.

Then we'll up with our voices and cry out with glee,
We are lords of the bush, we are happy and free,
In future may poets with pride use their pen
On all that is done by the Kennedy men.

Through swamps, through scrub, over ranges and sand,
Dalrymple -  he led us, and here made a stand,
Say's he, "This will do -  for a city I ken -
So three cheers fro the queen and the Kennedy men"

We all pitched our tents on the ridge near the wells,
Our foes mustered near us with fierce shouts and yells,
Next night when 'twas dark, and very near ten,
The blacks danced like fiends round the Kennedy Men.

Dal- our leader, stood firm as a rock in the storm,
Crying, "Those who are men and true Britons born,
Meet your foes hand to hand, drive the fiends to their den,"
Which was done with good will by the Kennedy Men.

If ever the hour of trial comes, 'twill be seen,
We'll be faithful and true to our God and our Queen,
And the base craven hearts that would hide themselves then,
May they never be known, as the Kennedy Men.

We pray that our Queens representatives here
May be honest and fair and give ear to our prayer;
And when the estimates pass from his minister's pen,
May they not cheat the faraway Kennedy Men

We have contended with sickness, with hunger and pain,
And we do not regret, we would do it again,
For our dear little town, the town of Bowen,
Is the pride of Queensland and the Kennedy Men

We have all that we could wish for, we have home, friends and health,
And in a short time, we'll have plenty of wealth,
Our ladies are fair, and there's one in England, I ken,
Is beloved by all true-hearted Kennedy Men.

Then here's to each friend of the pioneer band
That came out at first here in search of new land,
May we do what we ought, till the last day and then
May God bless the true-hearted Kennedy Men.

From the Queenslanders New Colonial Camp Fire Song Book.  These words copied from John Meredith's transcription of same in the National Library of Australia collection.

George Dalrymple is the "Dalrymple" referred to in the lyrics:

Explorer and Politician

George Dalrymple was born on 6 May 1826 at Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  He arrived in Australia between 1856 and 1858 and went to the Darling Downs where he was unable to take up land as he had intended. The unoccupied north attracted him and in February 1859 he published in Brisbane Proposals for the Establishment of a New Pastoral Settlement in North Australia and organised an expedition to explore the Burdekin River watershed (Kennedy district). His party, including Ernest Henry and Philip Sellheim, set out from near Rockhampton in August and reached the site of Bowen.

In August he went with Lieutenant J. W. Smith in the Spitfire to explore the coast and examine Port Denison as a port of access for the Kennedy. As officer in charge of the proposed settlement of Bowen, Dalrymple then planned the expedition to establish the township and led the overland section.  After he arrived Bowen was proclaimed on 11 April 1861.  In March 1865 he was elected the first member for Kennedy in the Legislative Assembly.  In 1867 he went to Britain to recover his health and returned to Queensland in 1869 and with A. J. Bogle took up Oxford Downs on the Upper Burdekin.  The venture failed, as did his imported traction engine which proved impracticable on northern roads. Insolvent, he was lucky to get a government post as Assistant Gold Commissioner on the Gilbert diggings in October 1871.  In September 1873 he led an official exploration of the coast north of Cardwell.  They reached the Endeavour River in October, just before Cooktown sprang up as the port for the Palmer goldfields.  They returned to Cardwell in December and Dalrymple, sick with fever, went to Brisbane.  After a summer in Scotland he went to St Leonards, Sussex, where he died, unmarried, on 22 January 1876.

The TAB Punters' Song

Words: John Dengate
Tune:  WS Hays (Seamus O'Brien)

Each Saturday morning I crawl out of bed
Hung-over from Friday's excess,
Feeling crook in the "comics" and crook in the head
With a mountain of sins to confess.
But then I remember it's race day again
I collect up my clothes from the floor
I tune into Mahoney's selections at ten -
The adrenalin's pumping once more

At Warwick Farm, Randwick or Rosehill they race,
It's a sign of our moral decay,
But wipe that superior look off your face,
I expect a trifecta today.

I have a quick piss, I give breakfast a miss,
Wallet and form guide I grab,
Then I suddenly bolt like a two year old colt
Away down the road to the TAB.
It's number of units and number of race,
The numbers spin round in my brain,
And I stand there blaspheming and cursing the place
The biro is broken again.

Oh the long shots are rough and the favourites are short
And I never know what's running dead
So I ring up my mate, but he got home so loate
His mother won't rouse him from bed.
Ron Quinton could win on a horse made of tin
So I back everything that he rides
And the big Melbourne grey is a good thing each way
And a couple of others besides.

And fellas, quinellas are always a chance
And doubles are sometimes a go
So when I walk out I feel light in the pants
For the TAB has got all of my dough

A short break for grub, then I'm into the pub
And I stand there and weep in my booze
For the horses I back veer all over the track
And they lose and they lose and they lose.
Oh seek not escape in the gambling my friend
Though life may be hum-drum and drab;
Seek solace in psalms or in fair ladies arms
But never go into a TAB.

Another from the wonderful Dengate.

The government-owned TAB (Totalisator Agency Boards) in each state conducted off-site legal betting on horse-racing in Australia.  They were all eventually privatised.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

To The West


To the West, To the West, to the land of the lag
Where the broad arrow floats on the national flag;
Where a man is a man if he only won't lie,
Where promoters are booming and not a bit shy;
Where the prospector swears with no sign of a smile
That the width of a the reef is exactly a mile;
And though 'tis the owner who says it as shouldn't,
That the gold in the reef is like plums in a puddin'

To the West, to the West, where the mining expert
Is never once seen with a barmaid to flirt;
To successfully flirt with a barmaid so fine,
Only those who are skilful in lying can shine.
Yet the mining expert can tell to the grain
How much gold to the ton the reef will contain:
And merely by taking a casual peep
How much gold's in the reef a thousand feet deep.

To the West, to the West, to the land of bright gold,
Where the man who buys shares is never once sold;
Where the bland mining boss with the truth in his eye
Talks of lenses and winzes and shafts deep and dry.
How the reef  underlies with a southerly dip -
An infallible sign of a rise in the scrip:
And the footwall, says he, which is just a bit bent,
Shows the shares will go up a good hundred per cent.

To the West, to the West, where there's plenty of fun,
Where the quartz fifty hundredweight goes to the ton;
Where the average is fully ten ounces or more,
Making shareholders dream of the bright golden shore;
And promoters they whisper "Now ain't we just smart
To collar in this world a big golden harp?
With the truthful prospectus we'll grab the bright gold,"
But the man who buys shares never dreams that he's sold.

I love this one from the Big Book of Australian Folk Songs.  Ron Edwards published it with this note:

TO THE WEST came to me form West Australian author Ted Mayman on 28 November 1970.  He had found it in the Coolgardie Miner for 1 January 1896, and it was noted as having already appeared in the Adelaide Observer.  Below the ballad was the name John Richards, but it is not clear whether this is the author or only the person who contributed it to the paper.

The illustration to this post is a photograph by John Joseph Dwyer entitled A prospector and his horse in camp, c 1905.

Bloggers note:  The style of performance of this track reflects my slow recovery from a chest infection, rather than solely artistic judgement (but I'm still quite fond of the result).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Stockman's Lament

Words:  Stuart Marshall 
Tune:  Norbert Schulze (Lilli Marleen)

Down beside the mail-box, near the station gate,
Every wintry night, so patiently I wait,
And there in the darkness, cold and blue,
I stand until the mail comes through,
I'm waiting for my trousers, they're so long overdue.

At last the truck comes thund'ring along the dusty road,
The driver climbs down from it and opens up his load,
He throws down parcels big and small,
I carefully check them one and all,
But no, there is no trousers, there's nothing there at all.

When the mail's departed, roaring through the night,
I sadly wend off homeward -  a sorry looking sight,
The wind whistles through my pants forlorn,
Through gaps and rents where they've been torn,
I feel so cold and naked I wish I wasn't born.

Perhaps some day you'll send them - I hope it's not too late,
To save me from the breakdown that soon will be my fate,
I'm slowly sinking to despair,
I'm losing handfuls of my hair,
If they don't soon arrive here, my backside will be bare.

Sent to Ron Edwards by Stuart Marshall in 1968 with the following note:

To be sung to the tune of "Lilli Marlene." In the days of material and fuel shortages this was posted to one of Australia's best-known mail order houses.

I've assumed that Stuart was the writer of the lyrics.  The original German song (Lilli Marleen) was set to its well-known tune in 1938.

Old TI


Old TI, my beautiful home,
That's the place where I was born;
The sun and the moon that shine,
Make me long for home,
Old TI, my beautiful home.

TI, my beautiful home,
TI, my home sweet home.
Darling, won't you take me,
Where the sun is sinking, farewell.

Why are you looking so sad, my dear,
Why are you feeling so blue?
I'm thinking of someone so far away,
In that beautiful place called TI.

Take me across the sea,
Over the deep blue sea,
Darling, won't you take me,
Back to my home TI.

When at the break of dawn,
Your dear face I cannot see,
You will always think,
Always think of me.

Up above the clouds,
Your dear face I cannot see,
But in your memories dear,
Never, never say goodbye.

Another from the Joy Durst Memorial Australian Song Collection (1980 edition), published by the Victorian Folk Music Club.  Published with the following note:

Popularised by Joy Durst.  From Thursday Islanders at Cairns, Queensland.

TI is the popular name for Thursday Island, the administrative centre of the Torres Strait Islands which lie off the Northern tip of Queensland.   The islands have been part of Australia since their annexation by Queensland in 1879.  The indigenous population are Melanesian islanders.

The Torres Strait Island flag.

When The Children Come Home

Words:  Henry Lawson
Tune:  Traditional (The Mudgee Waltz)

On a lonely selection far out in the West
An old woman works all the day without rest,
And she croons, as she toils 'neath the sky's glassy dome,
`Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come home.'

She mends all the fences, she grubs, and she ploughs,
She drives the old horse and she milks all the cows,
And she sings to herself as she thatches the stack,
`Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come back.'

It is five weary years since her old husband died;
And oft as he lay on his deathbed he sighed
`Sure one man can bring up ten children, he can,
An' it's strange that ten sons cannot keep one old man.'

Whenever the scowling old sundowners come,
And cunningly ask if the master's at home,
`Be off,' she replies, `with your blarney and cant,
Or I'll call my son Andy; he's workin' beyant.'

`Git out,' she replies, though she trembles with fear,
For she lives all alone and no neighbours are near;
But she says to herself, when she's like to despond,
That the boys are at work in the paddock beyond.

Ah, none of her children need follow the plough,
And some have grown rich in the city ere now;
Yet she says: `They might come when the shearing is done,
And I'll keep the ould place if it's only for one.'

This poem was combined with this tune by Mike Jackson in 1980 with a slight re-arrangement of the words.  I've reverted to the original arrangement of the words but I believe the combination worth well.

The illustration to this post is Russell Drysdale's 1945 painting, The Drover's Wife.

O'Mulligan's Wallaby Drive

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (Villikins and His Dinah)

Mister Peter O'Mulligan often had thought
That he hadn't been nearly so good as he ought
In dispensing good cheer to his neighbours and friends,
So he hit on a scheme that would make them amends

He said, "Molly, my darling, we'll go the whole hog,
You must lay in a stock of provisions and grog.
We'll invite all the neighbours and try to contrive
Just to give them an iligant wallaby drive".

He invited the Murphy's, both Johnny and Matt,
And old Sandy MacDougall from Tumbledown Flat,
There was Barney O'Grady, and Jones from the mill,
And old Paddy the Stockman, from Cabbage Tree Hill.

And they came with their wives and their sweethearts, and som
Came alone, and a few were unable to come.
But it did Molly's heart good to see them arrive
To Peter O'Mulligan's wallaby drive.

There was game in abundance and plenty of sport
And the old gum trees shook with the rattling report
Of old Paddy's big musket, as furious and fast
He blazed with his eyes shut at all that went past.

At the end of the day, when they counted the score,
Paddy hadn't shot one, while MacDougall had four.
Johnny Murphy was top, for he shot twenty-five
At Peter O'Mulligan's wallaby drive.

When the sun had gone down and the shooting was done,
There was dancing and feasting and flirting and fun.
Johnny Murphy got drunk, while his young brother Matt,
Courted Kitty MacDougall, from Tumbledown Flat.

While Peter himself, quite unknown to his lady,
Sat on the verandah with Biddy O'Grady
They danced till poor Jones was more dead than alive
At Peter O'Mulligan's wallaby drive.

O'Grady sought Biddy the moment he missed her,
And came on the pair as O'Mulligan kissed her
Their joy was diluted; O'Grady showed fight
While O'Mulligan's missus made Biddy look white.

In a moment the house was like Donnybrook Fair,
There were heads in the fireplace, and heels in the air.
And though Paddy, the stockman, to part them did strive,
He got floored - at O'Mulligan's wallaby drive.

Poor Kitty MacDougall lost all her false hair,
While O'Grady got scalped with the leg of a chair;
Johnny Murphy struck Paddy, who called him a liar
And, upsetting the lamp, set the whole house on fire.

There was fire in the parlour, a smoke in the hall,
And a blaze in the room that was cleared for the ball,
And the ladies who'd fainted, they had to revive
Or be baked - at O'Mulligan's wallaby drive.

Then they rallied round Peter, their friendship returning,
And they pulled down his house to prevent it from burning;
When the fire was put out, they all shouted "Goodnight"
And, then saddling their horses, were soon out of sight.

When the last one was gone, Mrs O'Mulligan rose
And she said, as she wiped a big tear from her nose,
"When ye want more divarsion to kape you alive,
I presume, faith! ye'll get up a wallaby drive".

Then, as phoenix-like Peter arose from the ashes
With his whiskers all singed, and his eyebrows and lashes,
He exclaimed, "By the ghost of Saint Patrick, I swear,
If I ever recover my eyebrows and hair,

That there's only one small piece of hunting I'll do,
Faith! I'll hunt for O'Grady and give him his due,
As for you, Divil take you!  I'll skin you alive,
If you evermore mention a wallaby drive.

From Singabout, (The Journal of Australian Folksong,  Published in Sydney by the Bush Music Club) 1960, Volume 4, Number 1.

Published with the following note:

Collected and recorded by William Crosdale, of South Yarra, from the singing of Jack (Bottle-O) Carter, who learned it as a boy around the Moree district.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of wallaby hunting on King Island around 1897.

The Steeplechase Riders

Words:  Will H Ogilvie
Tune:  Florian Pascal

We will deck them in cream and in crimson
In chocolate and tartan and blue
And speed them away from the barrier
And trust them to struggle it through

CHORUS (first and last verses)
Oh, the riders, the steeplechase riders
They carry their lives in their hands

We come with the best of our sportsmen
And the fairest fair girls of the land,
To speed them away from the barrier
And cheer them in front of the stand.

They don't have a fair lady wearing
Their colors of crimson and blue
But they'll put up their silk for a living,
And ride for a guinea or two.

There's a roar from the crowd on the corner,
A shout from the crowd on the hill.
For the green-and-white hoops have turned over:
A loose horse and a man lying still.

But the crimson and black's going strongly,
With the blue leading as they land,
And the horses must strain at the fences,
And the riders hold death in their hands.

For the fences are big ones and solid,
They make it top speed from the start,
And the man who rides out over Flemington
Needs more than the average heart.

Then here's to the luck of the winner,
And here's better luck to the last,
Here's to the pluck at the timber,
And here's to the Post flying past.

From the Joy Durst Memorial Song Collection.   Published with the following note:

Collected by Arthur and Kath Lumsden from Mrs Belle Brown, who learned the words about 1910.

The illustration to this post is a painting by George Hamilton entitled, The First Steeplechase in South Australia, 25 September 1846.

The Cook's Revenge

Arthur Croydon

Once I took a job of cooking
For some poddy-dodging cows,
But of all the little jobs I had,
It took the cake for rows

The bloody meat was gone bad,
And the cake it was a sod,
For the damper had gone ropey
It was, so help me Bob.

The tea it looked like water
And the pudding just as bad,
And every time we fork it on,
It made us fellows mad.

One day I thought, "I'll square things,"
And let them see no mug was I,
So I mixed some sniftin' pea soup,
To make them fellows cry.

Half a tin of curry,
To give the stuff a grip,
And half a tin of pepper,
The make them fellows shit.

And half a tin of cow dung,
Singed to make it look like toast,
The stink of it would knock you down,
Like Jesus Holy Ghost.

So the stockmen came in early,
If no tucker -  look out for fight,
And "Just hop in here you stockman boys,
For I'll bring some soup to light."

So the plate full each they took,
By cripes it tastes all right,
But nothing like the second helping
To make them bastards shite.

They shit upon the table
They shit upon the floor
The rotten dirty bastards
They never asked for more.

So I snatched my time, went down the line
To try and beat the mob,
And if you're looking for a first class cook
I'm waiting for the job.

Collected by Ron Edwards from the author, then 65-year-old Arthur Croydon of Cairns on 23 January, 1970.  Arthur worked as a stockman across the Gulf country.

From the Big Book of Australian Folk Songs.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Words: Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (Barbara Allen)

Good people I am going to sing
Of something that's been doing
It's vat befel a poor young man
Who vent out kangarooing

This young man's name vos Villiam Vite
A horphan boy vas he, sir,
He loved a girl named Betsy Black
A horphan girl vas she, sir.

This girl one morning said to him,
"Bill, if you loves me true now,
You'll rise up at the break of day
And catch a kangaroo now."

"O Betsy, Betsy," Villiam said,
"To mount an 'os I stickles,
For a varning woice says if I does,
"Tvill be a case of pickles."

Said she, "If 'bout this kangaroo,
My will is not obeyed sir,
I never will your bride become
But die a horphan maid, sir."

Then Villiam all for this girl's love
An 'os hires in a trice sir
Of a man who said, "he'd go like vind"
Vos sound and free from wice, sir.

And straightway early in the morn,
All for to speed his vooing
He mounted on this 'os's back,
And vent out kangarooing.

A mile from home his 'os stopped still
Though he nearly kicked his rib in,
"Twall all no use he vouldn't go
"Ho now," says he, "he's jibbin."

Then Villiam vipped this vicked 'os
And at his head kept chucking,
Which made him jump up just like mad,
"Ho now," says he, "he's bolting."

This 'orrid 'os came home quite safe
At twelve o'clock at night sir,
It's master stared, for on his back
There vos no Villiam Vite, sir

And at the wery self same time
Beside young Betsy's stretcher,
Stands Villiam Vite's un'appy ghost
And says, "he's come to fetch her"

This ghost a face like Villiam's does
Expose to Betsy's view sir
But both his body and his legs
Are like a kangaroo, sir.

And first he kisses Betsy's lips,
Next her fair body raises,
Then vith his tail knocks three times
And slithers in blue blazes.

And now this young man kangaroo
Amongst the bush so green sir,
Vith Betsy Black still in his arms,
Is by lovyers often seen, sir.

An unusual (to say the least) song from Coxon's Comic Songster.

I've given the words as printed but couldn't bring myself to record it with a German accent.

Coxon's Comic Songster was published in Ballarat c. 1858-59

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Only Land For Me (A Currency Lad)

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  John Thompson

Prate not to me of foreign strand
Of beauty o'er the sea
This is my own - my native land
The only land for me

The only land for me
The only land for me

This is my own - my native land
The only land for me

I love to bound like a wild gazelle
O'er my native mountains blue
And wildly, through the woody dell
Chase the bounding kangaroo

The bounding kangaroo
The bounding kangaroo

And wildly, through the woody dell
Chase the bounding kangaroo

I've rode upon the stormy wave
And danced aboon the sea
And where's the pleasure that it gave
Like my native land to me

My native land to me
My native land to me

And where's the pleasure that it gave
Like my native land to me

Children of convicts were known as a "currency lads and lasses".  These unattributed words from this site.  The only other information I can find on this one is a note on another site that it dates from 1832.

The illustration to this post is a settler's house from around 1880.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


rag and bone man australia Pictures, Images and Photos

Words:  Anonymous
Tune:  Traditional (Bow, Wow, Wow)

Now, shut your mouths, you loafers all,
You vex me with your twaddle,
You own a nag or big or small,
A bridle and a saddle;
I you advise at once be wise
And waste no time in talking,
Procure some bags of damaged rags
And make your fortune hawking.

Hawk, hawk, hawk.
Our bread to win, we’ll all begin
To hawk, hawk, hawk.

The stockmen and the bushmen and
The shepherds leave the station,
And the hardy bullock-punchers throw
Aside their occupation;
While some have horses, some have drays,
And some on foot are stalking;
We surely must conclude it pays
When all are going hawking.

A life it is so full of bliss
’Twould suit the very niggers,
And lads I know a-hawking go
Who scarce can make the figures
But penmanship’s no requisite,
Keep matters square by chalking
With pencil or with ruddle, that’s
Exact enough for hawking.

The hawker’s gay for half the day,
While others work he’s spelling,
Though he may stay upon the way,
His purse is always swelling;
With work his back is never bent
His hardest toil is talking;
Three hundred is the rate per cent.
Of profit when a-hawking.

Since pedlaring yields more delight
Than ever digging gold did,
And since to fortune’s envied height
The path I have unfolded,
We’ll fling our moleskins to the dogs
And don tweeds without joking,
And honest men as well as rogues
We’ll scour the country hawking.

Another from Banjo Paterson's Old Bush Songs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Banjo Bill

Words:  Vic Williams
Tune:  Ian Conochie

My mates all call me Banjo Bill
And sing this song as we throw and fill
Our backs are bent but our arms are strong
And swing in time to our drawling song

Banjo Bill, Banjo Bill
Shovelled for years and shovelling still
Where a railway runs or a building stands
The hard hills split in his driving hands

The Japs came South with cast-iron schemes
They thought we'd stoke their puffed-up dreams
That called for strong and willing slaves
But we blocked their road and dug their graves

Banjo Bill, Banjo Bill
Soldiered for years and shovelling still
Their armies cracked but our coast stands
Where he shovelled them back with work-strong hands

The bosses bang the drum for war
They make big dough and plan for more
We'll hammer our shovels like a gong
Call on our mates to sing this song

Banjo Bill, Banjo Bill
Changed the world and we'll change it still
Our spades will cut through the roots of war
And peace will blossom from shore to shore

Found in John Meredith's notebooks in the National Library of Australia.  John noted that there were two tunes to this one, with the tune used here included in his notes.

Any further information about the writers or the subject would be appreciated.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Flying Pieman


'Twas the close of a heavy drinking bout on port and sherry (Cape)
From public, half-seas over, we had just made our escape;
Our infant in its cradle was peacefully asleep,
And merrily we rolled along the street of Church Hill steep.

At length Bill Tompkins gave a shout of terror and fear,
As though he just had gazed upon some stern policeman near;
We looked all down the pavement, cried Tompkins, “well, I'm blowed,
See where the Flying Pieman comes bounding o'er the road.”

He comes! The Flying Pieman comes! And terrible his pace,
He scuds along the flinty path as though he ran a race;
The cards and placards in his hat all pasted on awry,
Are circulated quickly, as the Pieman dashes by.

He scudded on too speedily to mark his rapid flight,
In fear and consternation then we staggered off, half tight;
Quoth Tompkins, “When we travel home, I fear there'll be a breeze,
Our better-halves will put an end to these delightful sprees.”

Then mark the Flying Pieman comes, for comical his doom,
He scuds about from morn till night, queer costumes doth assume;
Around the town he beats about, forever, night and day,
And boys admiring shout, “There goes the Flying Pieman, hip! hooray!”

With thanks to Warren Fahey.

The Flying Pieman (William Francis King) and his bizarre feats of pedestrianism deserve greater attention.

These lyrics from  Colonial Society Magazine - Feb. 1865

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Graves Out West

Words:  Will Ogilvie
Tune:  Graham Jenkin

If the lonely graves are scattered in that fenceless vast God's Acre,
If no church bells chime across them, and no mourners tread between —
Yet the souls of those sound sleepers go as swiftly to their Maker,
And the ground is just as sacred, and the graves are just as green.

If we chant no solemn dirges to the virtue of their living.
If we sing no hymn words o'er them in the glory of the stars
They can hear a grander music than was ever ours for giving,
God's choristers invisible - the winds in the belars.

If we set them up no marble, it is none the less we love them:
If we carved a million columns would it bring them better rest
If no gentle hands have fashioned snow-white wreaths to lay above them,
God has laid His own wild flowers on the lonely graves out West.

From the Overlander's 1979 album, Tribute to Western Australia.  Written by Graham Jenkin.

Words from Will H. Ogilvie's Fair Girls and Gray Horses With Other Verses(1907). (Full text linked here).

The illustration to this post is a photograph of miners' graves near Chillagoe.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Eric Bogle

When I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in 1915 my country said: Son,
It's time to stop rambling, there's work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As the ship pulled away from the quay
And amidst all the tears, flag waving and cheers
We sailed off for Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
When our blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk, he was ready, he'd primed himself well
He rained us with bullets, and he showered us with shell
And in five minutes flat, we were all blown to hell
He nearly blew us back home to Australia

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then it started all over again

Oh those that were left, we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
While around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head
And when I awoke in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
I never knew there was worse things than dying

Oh no more I'll go Waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and free
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

They collected the wounded, the crippled, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind and the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And when the ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thanked Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity

And the Band played Waltzing Matilda
When they carried us down the gangway
Oh nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared
Then they turned all their faces away

Now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reviving old dreams and past glories
But the old men march slowly, old bones stiff and sore
Those weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But year after year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong
So who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

Written in 1971 by Eric Bogle.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of an artwork by Melbourne sculptor, Peter Corlett, entitled, Man in the Mud, from the Australian War Memorial collection.

Bare-Legged Kate

Words:  John Dengate
Tune: Bare legged Joe

First Verse and Chorus:
Bare legged Kate with your natural grace,
The big big sad eyes in the Irish face.
A poor bush girl when the summer is high 
In the stony hills of Gundagai.

Bare legged Kate why do you weep 
When the men ride by with the travelling sheep?
Does the sight of the drover make you sad?
Do you think of the father you never had?

Bare legged Kate why do you run, 
Down to the creek in the setting sun?
Down where the eyes of the world cannot see - 
Run Kate, run, from poverty.

Bare legged Kate, there is gold in the hills
But you know that the cyanide process kills. 
Poisons the miners and cuts them down 
In the mean little homes below the town.

Bare legged Kate, when the floods come down, 
It's the poor on the creeks are the ones who drown:
When the great Murrumbidgee is thundering by 
Through the haunted hills of Gundagai.

Published by the Bush Music Club in the 1982 collection, My Shout! with the dedication:

"Written for my mother, Born Kathleen Mary Kelly, Gundagai, NSW, 1914."      


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Green Leaves Upon The Green

There was a little squatter and he lived close by
Upon the green leaves, upon the green,
And he had a son of a very rough kind
And you know very well what I mean

And you know very well what I mean

And there was another cocky and he lived close by
Upon the green leaves, upon the green,
And he had a daughter of a very rough kind
And you know very well what I mean
And you know very well what I mean

And they placed them both to bed one night
Upon the green leaves, upon the green,
To see which one would tempt the other first,
And you know very well what I mean,
And you know very well what I mean.

She placed her hand upon his hip,
Upon the green leaves, upon the green,
And said, “what is this that stands so stiff?

And you know very well what I mean,
Well you know very well what I mean.

That is my horse that drinks at the well
Upon the green leaves, upon the green.

Yes that is my nag which rears and swells
And you know very well what I mean,
And you know very well what I mean,

But what is this hangs under his chin
Upon the green, leaves upon the green
That's the bags he puts his fodder in
And you know very well what I mean,
And you know very well what I mean,

Said he, "What's this?", "It is a well
Upon the green, leaves upon the green
Where your nag can drink and drink his fill
And you know very well what I mean,
And you know very well what I mean,

But what if he should chance to slip in
Upon the green, leaves upon the green
Then catch hold of the grass that grows on the brim
And you know very well what I mean,
And you know very well what I mean,

But what if the grass should chance to fail
Upon the green, leaves upon the green.
Shove him in by the head, pull him out by the tail
And you know very well what I mean,
And you know very well what I mean.

With the kind assistance of Warren Fahey.  Recorded in Adelaide in 1962 from the singing of Bill Harney and transcribed by Warren from the collection of the State Library of South Australia.

A confusing song.  I have little idea as to what it describes.  Something about horses....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poll the Grogseller

Words:  Charles Thatcher
Tune:  John Medex Maddox (Philip the Falconer)

Big Poll the Grogseller gets up every day
And her small rowdy tent sweeps out;
She's turning in plenty of tin people say
For she knows what she's about.
Polly's good-looking, and Polly is young,
And Polly's possessed of a smooth oily tongue;
She's an innocent face and a good head of hair,
And a lot of young fellows will often go there;
And they keep dropping in handsome Polly to court,
And she smiles and supplies them with brandy and port
And the neighbours all say that the whole blessed day,
She is grog-selling late and early.

Two sly-grog detectives have come up from town,
And they both roam about in disguise;
And several retailers of grog are done brown,
And have reason to open their eyes:
Of her small rowdy crib they are soon on the scent;
But Polly's prepared when they enter her tent;
They call for some brandy - "We don't sell it here,
But", says Poll, "I can give you some nice ginger beer,"
And she adds, "do you see any green in my eye?
To your fine artful dodge and disguise I am fly;
For if Polly you'd nail, you'd have, without fail,
To get up in the morning early."

From Thatcher's Colonial Minstrel (1864), published with the note:

A new parody of Philip the Falconer as written and sung by Thatcher at the Shamrock.

This tune from the Joy Durst Memorial Song Collection.

The original song was published as part of a Christmas pantomine in 1847.  While JM Maddox is given as the author, he may not have written the song (unless it was a bizarrely popular song-title) as the following front-page (without music) is also available:

If you're really keen, here are the lyrics of the original (from the Arkansas Traveller's Songbook, a collection of 19th century show-tunes):

Young Philip the falconer's up with the day,With his merlin on his arm,
And down the mill meadows has taken his way
To hawk—and pray where's the harm?
Philip is stalwart, and Philip is young,
And Philip, they say, has a musical tongue.
The miller's young sister is fresh and is fair,
And Philip he always is hawking there!
For he vows and declares, believe it or not,
There's not in the kingdom, for herons, such a spot ;•
And falcons, they say, to fly true to their prey,
Should be trained in the morning early.

The miller's to market to buy him some corn,For work it should never stand still;
A maiden is loitering under the thorn,
In the meadow below the mill;
And Philip's grown tired of a bachelor's life—
Thinks the miller's young sister would make a good wife:
And so comes a whisper, and so comes a smile,
And then a long leave-taking over the stile.
Oh, when he returns from market, I guess,
The miller will find he's a sister the less I
For maidens, they say, do not always say " Nay"
When they're asked in the morning early.

The miller's returned to a comfortless home,No maiden's sweet voice is there;
He sought o'er the hills, through the valleys and field
For comfort his spirits to cheer.
But the birds sang less sweetly, the streams murmured low
 The winds were all cross, and the mill wouldn't go:
But he met little Mary just down by the lea— [hearts free
Now they both had long loved, when they thought they "
0 Mary," he said, and her hand pressed the while,
" Shall we talk of our wedding just down by the stile ?"
She blushed, turned away, but she didn't say " Nay,"
So they married one morning early.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Three Crows


Now three black crows sat on a tree,
As black as any crows could be
Caw, caw, caw.

Said one black crow unto the other
"Where shall we dine today dear brother?"

"On yonder hill's an old grey mare.
I think my friends we shall dine there".

They perched upon her high backbone,
And picked her eyes out one by one.

Said the second black crow unto the other,
"Isn't she a tough old bugger"

Up come a squatter with his gun,
And shot them all excepting one.

Now that one black crow got such a fright,
He turned from black right into white.

Now that is why you'll often see
A white crow among the tree.

From Ron Edwards' Big Book of Australian Folk Song.  Ron noted that the song seemed widely known in North Queensland when it was collected by Wendy Lowenstein in November, 1969.  Originally collected by Wendy from Dave Guard, "an old resident of Georgetown, Queensland".

An obvious derivative of the well-known English folk song, Three Ravens or Twa Corbies.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Words:  John O'Brien
Tune:  Traditional/Arranged John Thompson

Right-click to download

The bishop sat in lordly state and purple cap sublime,
And galvanized the old bush church at Confirmation time.
And all the kids were mustered up from fifty miles around,
With Sunday clothes, and staring eyes, and ignorance profound.
Now was it fate, or was it grace, whereby they yarded too
An overgrown two-storey lad from Tangmalangaloo?

A hefty son of virgin soil, where nature has her fling,
And grows the trefoil three feet high and mats it in the spring;
Where mighty hills uplift their heads to pierce the welkin's rim,
And trees sprout up a hundred feet before they shoot a limb;
There everything is big and grand, and men are giants too -
But Christian Knowledge wilts, alas, at Tangmalangaloo.

The bishop summed the youngsters up, as bishops only can;
He cast a searching glance around, then fixed upon his man.
But glum and dumb and undismayed through every bout he sat;
He seemed to think that he was there, but wasn't sure of that.
The bishop gave a scornful look, as bishops sometimes do,
And glared right through the pagan in from Tangmalangaloo.

"Come, tell me, boy," his lordship said in crushing tones severe,
"Come, tell me why is Christmas Day the greatest of the year?
"How is it that around the world we celebrate that day
"And send a name upon a card to those who're far away?
"Why is it wandering ones return with smiles and greetings, too?"
A squall of knowledge hit the lad from Tangmalangaloo.

He gave a lurch which set a-shake the vases on the shelf,
He knocked the benches all askew, up-ending of himself.
And so, how pleased his lordship was, and how he smiled to say,
"That's good, my boy.  Come, tell me now; and what is Christmas Day?"
The ready answer bared a fact no bishop ever knew -
"It's the day before the races out at Tangmalangaloo.

John O'Brien was the pen-name of Patrick Joseph Hartigan, most famously the author of Said Hanrahan.

The Flood

Mick O'Halloran

It's gonna flood
I'm surrounded by leeches and mud
I didn't do the shopping in Lismore this week
and all I've got to eat is a spud

It's bloody wet
There's more to come I bloody bet
I wish I had a boat so I could row across this river
And see if I can bum a cigarette

I'm going mad
I'm stuck here with my ex-wife's mum and dad
They came to tell me what a mongrel I've been
And couldn't get out again.

Because in this kind of weather tallyhos stick together
You couldn't roll a thing if you tried
The roofs full of leaks and there's mould on the sheets
And the black-snakes are moving inside

The SES 
They're pulling out.  Last seen heading West
I think I'll live the in-laws to the mould and the black snakes
And float out to sea on my chest

This song was a favourite around the Brisbane session scene in the 1990s, as sung by Cory O'Connell, nephew of the songwriter, Mick O'Halloran.  Later performed by the supremely disreputable Baldrick and the Cunning Plans.

Some notes:
Tally-ho is a well-known brand of cigarette paper
The SES is the State Emergency Service, a voluntary civil relief service in Australia
Lismore is a town in Northern New South Wales where flooding is common.

The illustration to this post is from the excellent and informative "History of our Floods" page from the Lismore Council.

This version accompanied by the distinctive twang of a six-string gourd guitar by Penelope Swales (see Totally Gourdgeous).