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The Old Bush Songs by A. B. Paterson

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Shadows of the twilight falling
On the mountain’s brow,
To each other birds are calling,
In the leafy bough.
Where the daisies are a-springing,
And the cattle bells are ringing,
Comes my Mary, gaily singing,
Bringing home the cows.

By a bush the pathway skirted,
Room for two allows.
All the cornfields are deserted,
Idle are the ploughs.
Striving for wealth’s spoil and booty,
Farmer boys have finished duty,
When I meet my little beauty,
Bringing home the cows.

Tender words and kind addresses,
Most polite of bows,
Rosy cheeks and wavy tresses
Do my passions rouse

Dress so natty and so cleanly,
Air so modest and so queenly.
Oh! so haughty, yet serenely,
Bringing home the cows.

Arm-in-arm together walking,
While the cattle browse,
Earnestly together talking,
Plighting lovers’ vows.
Where the daisies are a-springing,
Wedding bells will soon be ringing,
Then we’ll watch our servant bringing
Mine and Mary’s cows.


(Air: “The Old Stable Jacket.”)

A strapping young stockman lay dying,
His saddle supporting his head;
His two mates around him were crying,
As he rose on his pillow and said:


“Wrap me up with my stockwhip and blanket,
And bury me deep down below,
Where the dingoes and crows can’t molest me,
In the shade where the coolibahs grow.

“Oh! had I the flight of the bronzewing,
Far o’er the plains would I fly,
Straight to the land of my childhood,
And there would I lay down and die.

Chorus: Wrap me up, &c.

“Then cut down a couple of saplings,
Place one at my head and my toe,
Carve on them cross, stockwhip, and saddle,
To show there’s a stockman below.

Chorus: Wrap me up, &c.

“Hark! there’s the wail of a dingo,
Watchful and weird—I must go,
For it tolls the death-knell of the stockman
From the gloom of the scrub down below.

Chorus: Wrap me up, &c.

“There’s tea in the battered old billy;
Place the pannikins out in a row,
And we’ll drink to the next merry meeting,
In the place where all good fellows go.

Chorus: Wrap me up, &c.

“And oft in the shades of the twilight,
When the soft winds are whispering low,
And the dark’ning shadows are falling,
Sometimes think of the stockman below.”

Chorus: Wrap me up, &c.


That’s his saddle on the tie-beam,
And them’s his spurs up there
On the wall-plate over yonder—
You ken see they ain’t a pair.

For the daddy of all the stockmen
As ever come mustering here
Was killed in the flaming mulga,
A-yarding a bald-faced steer.

They say as he’s gone to heaven,
And shook off all worldly cares
But I can’t sight Bill in a halo
Set up on three blinded hairs.

In heaven! what next I wonder,
For strike me pink and blue,
If I see whatever in thunder
They’ll find for Bill to do.

He’d never make one of them angels,
With faces as white as chalk,
All wool to the toes like hoggets,
And wings like an eagle-hawk.

He couldn’t ’arp for apples,
His voice had tones as jarred,
And he’d no more ear than a bald-faced steer,
Or calves in a branding yard.

He could sit on a bucking brumbie
Like a nob in an easy chair,
And chop his name with a greenhide fall
On the flank of a flying steer.

He could show them saints in glory
The way that a fall should drop,
But sit on a throne—not William,
Unless they could make it prop.

He mightn’t freeze to the seraphs,
Or chum with the cherubim,
But if ever them seraph johnnies
Get a-poking it like at him—

Well! if there’s hide in heaven,
And silk for to make a lash,
He’ll yard ’em all in the Jasper Lake
In a blinded lightning flash.

If the heavenly hosts get boxed now,
As mobs most always will,
Who’ll cut ’em out like William,
Or draft on a camp like Bill?

An ’orseman would find it awkward
At first with a push that flew,
But blame my cats if I know what else
They’ll find for Bill to do.

It’s hard if there ain’t no cattle,
And perhaps they’ll let him sleep,
And wake him up at the judgment
To draft those goats and sheep.

It’s playing it low on William,
But perhaps he’ll buckle to,
To show them high-toned seraphs
What a Mulga man can do.

If they saddles a big-boned angel,
With a turn of speed, of course,
As can spiel like a four-year brumbie,
And prop like an old camp horse,

And puts Bill up with a snaffle,
A four or five inch spur,
And eighteen foot of greenhide
To chop the blinded fur—

He’ll yard them blamed Angoras
In a way that it’s safe to swear
Will make them tony seraphs
Sit back on their thrones and stare.


(Air: “Ben Bolt.”)

Oh! don’t you remember Black Alice, Sam Holt—
Black Alice, so dusky and dark,
The Warrego gin, with the straw through her nose,
And teeth like a Moreton Bay shark.

The terrible sheepwash tobacco she smoked
In the gunyah down there by the lake,
And the grubs that she roasted, and the lizards she stewed,
And the damper you taught her to bake.

Oh! don’t you remember the moon’s silver sheen,
And the Warrego sand-ridges white?
And don’t you remember those big bull-dog ants
We caught in our blankets at night?

Oh! don’t you remember the creepers, Sam Holt,
That scattered their fragrance around?
And don’t you remember that broken-down colt
You sold me, and swore he was sound?

And don’t you remember that fiver, Sam Holt,
You borrowed so frank and so free,
When the publican landed your fifty-pound cheque
At Tambo your very last spree?

Luck changes some natures, but yours, Sammy Holt,
Was a grand one as ever I see,
And I fancy I’ll whistle a good many tunes
Ere you think of that fiver or me.

Oh! don’t you remember the cattle you duffed,
And your luck at the Sandy Creek rush,
And the poker you played, and the bluffs that you bluffed,
And your habits of holding a flush?

And don’t you remember the pasting you got
By the boys down in Callaghan’s store,
When Tim Hooligan found a fifth ace in his hand,
And you holding his pile upon four?

You were not the cleanest potato, Sam Holt,
You had not the cleanest of fins.
But you made your pile on the Towers, Sam Holt,
And that covers the most of your sins.

They say you’ve ten thousand per annum, Sam Holt,
In England, a park and a drag;
Perhaps you forget you were six months ago
In Queensland a-humping your swag.

But who’d think to see you now dining in state
With a lord and the devil knows who,
You were flashing your dover, six short months ago,
In a lambing camp on the Barcoo.

When’s my time coming? Perhaps never, I think,
And it’s likely enough your old mate
Will be humping his drum on the Hughenden-road
To the end of the chapter of fate.


(Air: “Wearing of the Green.”)

When the merchant lies down, he can scarce go to sleep
For thinking of his merchandise upon the fatal deep;
His ships may be cast away or taken in a war,
So him alone we’ll envy not, who true bushmen are.

Chorus: Who true bushmen are,
Who true bushmen are,
So him alone we’ll envy not, who true bushmen are!

When the soldier lies down, his mind is full of thought
O’er seeking that promotion which so long he has sought;
He fain would gain repose for mortal wound or scar,
So him also we’ll envy not, who true bushmen are.

Chorus: Who true bushmen are, &c.

When the sailor lies down, his mind he must prepare
To rouse out in a minute if the wind should prove unfair.
His voyage may be stopped for the want of a spar,
So him also we’ll envy not, who true bushmen are.

Chorus: Who true bushmen are, &c.

When the bushman lies down, his mind is free from care,
He knows his stock will furnish him with meat, wear and tear.
Should all commerce be ended in the event of a war,
Then bread and beef won’t fail us boys, who true bushmen are.

Chorus: Who true bushmen are, &c.

Then fill, fill your glasses, a toast I’ll give you, then,
To you who call yourselves true-hearted men.
Here’s a health to the soldier and e’en the jolly tar,
And may they always meet as good friends as we bushmen are.

Chorus: Who true bushmen are,
Who true bushmen are,

And may they always meet as good friends as we bushmen are.


(Air: “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.

Chorus: Hawk, hawk, hawk, &c.

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.

Chorus: Hawk, hawk, hawk, &c.

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.

Chorus: Hawk, hawk, hawk, &c.

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.

Chorus: Hawk, hawk, hawk, &c.


[By A New Chum]

(Air: “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.


The stockmen of Australia, what rowdy boys are they,
They will curse and swear an hurricane if you come in their
They dash along the forest on black, bay, brown, or grey,
And the stockmen of Australia, hard-riding boys are they.

Chorus: And the stockmen, &c.

By constant feats of horsemanship, they procure for us our
And supply us with the fattest beef by hard work in the
To muster up the cattle they cease not night nor day,
And the stockmen of Australia, hard-riding boys are they.

Chorus: And the stockmen, &c.

Just mark him as he jogs along, his stockwhip on his knee,
His white mole pants and polished boots and jaunty cabbage-
His horsey-pattern Crimean shirt of colours bright and gay,
And the stockmen of Australia, what dressy boys are they.

Chorus: And the stockmen, &c.

If you should chance to lose yourself and drop upon his camp,
He’s there reclining on the ground, be it dry or be it damp.
He’ll give you hearty welcome, and a stunning pot of tea,
For the stockmen of Australia, good-natured boys are they.

Chorus: For the stockmen, &c.

If down to Sydney you should go, and there a stockman
Remark the sly looks cast on him as he roams through the
From the shade of lovely bonnets steal forth those glances
For the stockmen of Australia, the ladies’ pets are they.

Chorus: For the stockmen, &c.

Whatever fun is going on, the stockman will be there,
Be it theatre or concert, or dance or fancy fair.
To join in the amusements be sure he won’t delay,
For the stockmen of Australia, light-hearted boys are they.

Chorus: For the stockmen, &c.

Then here’s a health to every lass, and let the toast go round,
To as jolly a set of fellows as ever yet were found.
And all good luck be with them, for ever and to-day,
Here’s to the stockmen of Australia—hip, hip, hooray!

Chorus: Here’s to the stockmen, &c.


(As sung by the camp fire.)

No doubt the saying’s all abroad,
And rattling through the land.
We hear it at the mangle, too,
With “What are you going to stand?”
I’m sure I don’t know which to choose,
There’s really such a lot—
But I hope my song you’ll not refuse,
For it’s only a way I’ve got.

Chorus: Tol, lol, litter, tol, lol.
Tol, lol, the rol, lay.

In Sydney town a gal I met,
Her dress was rather gay,
I think the place, it was Pitt Street,
Or somewhere near that way.
Says she, “The night is very cold,
Pray, stand a drop of Hot.
I hope my freedom you’ll excuse,
For it’s only a way I’ve got.”

Chorus: Tol, lol, &c.

The drink we soon put out of sight,
And off for home did walk,
When a fellow came up and quite polite
To her began to talk.
He drew my ticker from my fob,
And bolted like a shot.
Says she, “Oh, take no notice, Bob,
It’s only a way he’s got.”

Chorus: Tol, lol, &c.

Says I, “I’ll soon catch you, my chap,”
And arter him I flies,
When another stepped up and knocked my hat
Completely o’er my eyes.
He from my pocket drew my purse,
And off with it did trot;
Says she, “It’s well it is no worse,
But it’s only a way he’s got.”

Chorus: Tol, lol, &c.

A little further on we went.
I had got rather shy.
Then a butcher ran his tray
Right bang into my eye.
The fellow said it was my fault,
Called me a drunken sot.
Then, like a thief, he slunk away,
’Twas only a way he’d got!

Chorus: Tol, lol, &c.

Now, as we walked along the street,
A lot of chaps we met.
I saw they on a game were bent;
Says they, “How fat you get!”
I got from them some ugly pokes,
They made me a regular Scot.
They said, “Oh, never mind our jokes,
It’s only a way we’ve got!”

Chorus: Tol, lol, &c.

I have grown tired of Sydney town
Since I’ve lost all my cash,
And so will up the country go,
And tell them of my smash.
Oh, then we’ll have such lots of fun,
I’ll court Miss Polly Scott;
And if she asks me what I mean
I’ll tell her it’s a way I’ve got.

Chorus: Tol, lol, &c.


A club there is established here, whose name they say is
From Melbourne to the Billabong, they’re known in every
They do not like the cockatoos, but mostly stick to stations,
Where they keep themselves from starving by cadging
shepherds’ rations.

The rules and regulations, they’re not difficult of learning,
They are to live upon the cash which others have been
To never let a chance go by of being in a shout, sir,
And if they see a slant to turn your pockets inside out, sir.

They’ll cadge your baccy, knife, and pipe, and tell a tale of
Of how they cannot get a job, but mean to start to-morrow.
But that to-morrow never comes, until they see quite plainly
That it’s completely up the spout with Messrs. Scrase and

If, feeling thirsty, you should go to take a little suction,
I’ll swear they’ll not be long before they’ll force an
One knew you here, one knew you there, all love you like a
And if one plan will not succeed, they’ll quickly try another.

I knew one poor, unhappy wight, having a little ready,
Entered a Smeaton public-house, determined to keep steady.
A celebrated loafer there determined upon showing him
That he once had the pleasure and the privilege of knowing

Through hills and dales, by lakes and streams, he close
pursued his victim,
Until the miserable man confessed that be quite licked him.
In vain the quarry tried to turn, pursuit was far too strong,
The loafer followed up the scent and earthed him in Geelong,

The noble art of lambing down they know in all its beauty,
And if they do not squeeze you dry, they’ll think they’ve
failed in duty.
But, truth to say, they seldom fail to do that duty neatly,
And very few escape their hands who’re not cleared out


My name is old Jack Palmer,
I’m a man of olden days,
And so I wish to sing a song
To you of olden praise.
To tell of merry friends of old
When we were gay and young;
How we sat and sang together
Round the Old Keg of Rum.


Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum!
How we sat and sang together
Round the Old Keg of Rum.

There was I and Jack the plough-boy,
Jem Moore and old Tom Hines,
And poor old Tom the fiddler,
Who now in glory shines;

And several more of our old chums,
Who shine in Kingdom Come,
We all associated round the
Old Keg of Rum.


Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum!
We all associated round the
Old Keg of Rum.

And when harvest time was over,
And we’d get our harvest fee,
We’d meet, and quickly rise the keg,
And then we’d have a spree.
We’d sit and sing together
Till we got that blind and dumb
That we couldn’t find the bunghole
Of the Old Keg of Rum.


Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum!
That we couldn’t find the bunghole
Of the Old Keg of Rum.

Its jovially together, boys—
We’d laugh, we’d chat, we’d sing;
Sometimes we’d have a little row
Some argument would bring.

And oftimes in a scrimmage, boys,
I’ve corked it with my thumb,
To keep the life from leaking
From the Old Keg of Rum.


Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum!
To keep the life from leaking
From the Old Keg of Rum.

But when our spree was ended, boys,
And waking from a snooze,
For to give another drain
The old keg would refuse.
We’d rap it with our knuckles—
If it sounded like a drum,
We’d know the life and spirit
Had left the Old Keg of Rum.


Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum!
We’d know the life and spirit
Had left the Old Keg of Rum.

Those happy days have passed away,
I’ve seen their pleasures fade;
And many of our good old friends
Have with old times decayed.

But still, when on my travels, boys,
If I meet with an old chum,
We will sigh, in conversation,
Of the Grand Old Keg of Rum.


Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum!
We will sigh, in conversation,
Of the Grand Old Keg of Rum.

So now, kind friends, I end my song,
I hope we’ll meet again,
And, as I’ve tried to please you all,
I hope you won’t complain.
You younger folks who learn my song,
Will, perhaps, in years to come,
Remember old Jack Palmer
And the Old Rum Of Rum.


Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum!
Remember old Jack Palmer
And the Old Keg of Rum.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kind friends, pray give attention
To this, my little song.
Some rum things I will mention,
And I’ll not detain you long.
Up and down this country
I travel, don’t you see,
I’m a swagman on the wallaby,
Oh! don’t you pity me.
I’m a swagman on the wallaby,
Oh! don’t you pity me.

At first I started shearing,
And I bought a pair of shears.
On my first sheep appearing,
Why, I cut off both its ears.
Then I nearly skinned the brute,
As clean as clean could he.
So I was kicked out of the shed,
Oh! don’t you pity me, &c.

I started station loafing,
Short stages and took my ease;
So all day long till sundown
I’d camp beneath the trees.
Then I’d walk up to the station,
The manager to see.
“Boss, I’m hard up and I want a job,
Oh! don’t you pity me,” &c.

Says the overseer: “Go to the hut.
In the morning I’ll tell you
If I’ve any work about
I can find for you to do.”
But at breakfast I cuts off enough
For dinner, don’t you see.
And then my name is Walker.
Oh! don’t you pity me.
I’m a swagman, &c.

And now, my friends, I’ll say good-bye,
For I must go and camp.
For if the Sergeant sees me
He may take me for a tramp;
But if there’s any covey here
What’s got a cheque, d’ye see,
I’ll stop and help him smash it.
Oh! don’t you pity me.
I’m a swagman on the wallaby,
Oh! don’t you pity me.

“A Swagman on the Wallaby.”—A nomad following
track of the wallaby, i.e., loafing aimlessly.


(Air: “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.


(Air: “Little Sally Waters.”)

The night is dark and stormy, and the sky is clouded o’er;
Our horses we will mount and ride away,
To watch the squatters’ cattle through the darkness of the
And we’ll keep them on the camp till break of day.


For we’re going, going, going to Gunnedah so far,
And we’ll soon be into sunny New South Wales;
We shall bid farewell to Queensland, with its swampy
Happy drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

When the fires are burning bright through the darkness of
the night,
And the cattle camping quiet, well, I’m sure
That I wish for two o’clock when I call the other watch—
This is droving from the sandy Maranoa.

Our beds made on the ground, we are sleeping all so sound
When we’re wakened by the distant thunder’s roar,
And the lightning’s vivid flash, followed by an awful crash-
It’s rough on drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

We are up at break of day, and we’re all soon on the way,
For we always have to go ten miles or more;
It don’t do to loaf about, or the squatter will come out—
He’s strict on drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

We shall soon be on the Moonie, and we’ll cross the Barwon,
Then we’ll be out upon the rolling plains once more;
We’ll shout “Hurrah! for old Queensland, with its swampy
And the cattle that come off the Maranoa.”


(Air: “Belle Mahone.”)

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

Chorus: Sweet Belle Mahone, &c.

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

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

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


[The subjoined is one of the “Songs of the Squatters,”
written by the Hon. Robert Lowe (afterwards Viscount
Sherbrooke), while resident in New South Wales.]

The Commissioner bet me a pony—I won;
So he cut off exactly two-thirds of my run;
For he said I was making a fortune too fast,
And profit gained slower the longer would last.

He remarked as devouring my mutton he sat,
That I suffered my sheep to grow sadly too fat;
That they wasted waste land, did prerogative brown,
And rebelliously nibbled the droits of the Crown;—

That the creek that divided my station in two
Showed that Nature designed that two fees should be due.
Mr. Riddle assured me ’twas paid but for show;
But he kept it and spent it; that’s all that I know.

The Commissioner fined me because I forgot
To return an old ewe that was ill of the rot,
And a poor wry-necked lamb that we kept for a pet;
And he said it was treason such things to forget.

The Commissioner pounded my cattle because
They had mumbled the scrub with their famishing jaws
On the part of the run he had taken away;
And he sold them by auction the costs to defray.

The Border Police they were out all the day
To look for some thieves who had ransacked my dray;
But the thieves they continued in quiet and peace,
For they’d robbed it themselves—had the Border Police!

When the white thieves had left me the black thieves
My shepherds they waddied, my cattle they speared;
But for fear of my licence I said not a word,
For I knew it was gone if the Government heard.

The Commissioner’s bosom with anger was filled
Against me because my poor shepherd was killed;
So he straight took away the last third of my run,
And got it transferred to the name of his son.

The son had from Cambridge been lately expelled,
And his licence for preaching most justly withheld!
But this is no cause, the Commissioner says,
Why he should not be fit for a licence to graze.

The cattle that had not been sold at the pound
He took with the run at five shillings all round;
And the sheep the blacks left me at sixpence a head—
“A very good price,” the Commissioner said.

The Governor told me I justly was served,
That Commissioners never from duty had swerved;
But that if I’d a fancy for any more land
For one pound an acre he’d plenty on hand.

I’m not very proud! I can dig in a bog,
Feed pigs or for firewood can split up a log,
Clean shoes, riddle cinders, or help to boil down—
Or whatever you please, but graze lands of the Crown.


(Air: “The Mistletoe Bough.”)

The saddle was hung on the stockyard rail,
And the poor old horse stood whisking his tail,
For there never was seen such a regular screw
As Wallabi Joe, of Bunnagaroo;
Whilst the shearers all said, as they say, of course,
That Wallabi Joe’s a fine lump of a horse;
But the stockmen said, as they laughed aside,
He’d barely do for a Sunday’s ride.

Chorus: Oh! poor Wallabi Joe.
O—oh! poor Wallabi Joe.

“I’m weary of galloping now,” he cried,
“I wish I were killed for my hide, my hide;
For my eyes are dim, and my back is sore,
And I feel that my legs won’t stand much more.”

Now stockman Bill, who took care of his nag,
Put under the saddle a soojee bag,
And off he rode with a whip in his hand
To look for a mob of the R.J. brand.

Chorus: Oh! poor Wallabi Joe, &c.

Now stockman Bill camped out that night,
And he hobbled his horse in a sheltered bight;
Next day of old Joe he found not a track,
So he had to trudge home with his swag on his back.
He searched up and down every gully he knew,
But he found not a hair of his poor old screw,
And the stockmen all said as they laughed at his woe,
“Would you sell us the chance of old Wallabi Joe.”

Chorus: Oh! poor Wallabi Joe, &c.

Now as years sped by, and as Bill grew old,
It came into his head to go poking for gold;
So away he went with a spade in his fist,
To hunt for a nugget among the schist.
One day as a gully he chanced to cross,
He came on the bones of his poor old horse;
The hobbles being jammed in a root below
Had occasioned the death of poor Wallabi Joe.

Chorus: Oh! poor Wallabi Joe, &c.


(Air: “A 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
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
And quaffs his cup of hysouskin, the beverage old chums
Like a fine Australian squatter, one of the olden time.

And when shearing time approaches he opens hut to all,
And though ten thousand 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
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 J.P.,
He darkly hints that Thompson’s run from scab is scarcely
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
And are somewhat apt to cross the street when him they
chance to see—
This fine Australian squatter, the boy of the olden time.


Be ye stockmen or no, to my story give ear.
Alas! for poor Jack, no more shall we hear
The crack of his stockwhip, his steed’s lively trot,
His clear “Go ahead, boys,” his jingling quart pot.


For we laid him where wattles their sweet fragrance shed,
And the tall gum trees shadow the stockman’s last bed.

Whilst drafting one day he was horned by a cow.
“Alas!” cried poor Jack, “it’s all up with me now,
For I never again shall my saddle regain,
Nor bound like a wallaby over the plain.”

His whip it is silent, his dogs they do mourn,
His steed looks in vain for his master’s return;
No friend to bemoan him, unheeded he dies;
Save Australia’s dark sons, few know where he lies.

Now, stockman, if ever on some future day
After the wild mob you happen to stray,
Tread softly where wattles their sweet fragrance spread,
Where alone and neglected poor Jack’s bones are laid.


(Air: “So Early in the Morning.”)

The boss last night in the hut did say—
“We start to muster at break of day;
So be up first thing, and don’t be slow;
Saddle your horses and off you go.”


So early in the morning, so early in the morning,
So early in the morning, before the break of day.

Such a night in the yard there never was seen
(The horses were fat and the grass was green);
Bursting of girths and slipping of packs
As the stockmen saddled the fastest hacks.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

Across the plain we jog along
Over gully, swamp, and billabong;
We drop on a mob pretty lively, too
We round ’em up and give ’em a slue.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

Now the scrub grows thick and the cattle are wild,
A regular caution to this ’ere child—
A new chum man on an old chum horse,
Who sails through the scrub as a matter of course.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

I was close up stuck in a rotten bog;
I got a buster jumping a log;
I found this scouting rather hot,
So I joined the niggers with the lot we’d got.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

A long-haired shepherd we chanced to meet
With a water bag, billy, and dog complete;
He came too close to a knocked up steer,
Who up a sapling made him clear.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

Now on every side we faintly hear
The crack of the stockwhip drawing near;
To the camp the cattle soon converge,
As from the thick scrub they emerge.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

We hastily comfort the inner man
With the warm contents of the billy can;
The beef and damper are passed about
Before we tackle the cutting out.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

We’re at it now—that bally calf
Would surely make a sick man laugh;
The silly fool can’t take a joke;
I hope some day in the drought he’ll croak.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

We’ve ’em now—the cows and calves
(Things here are never done by halves);
Strangers, workers, and milkers, too,
Of scrubbers also not a few.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

It’s getting late, we’d better push;
’Tis a good long way across the bush,
And the mob to drive are middling hard;
I do not think we’ll reach the yard.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.


The sun peers o’er you wooded ridge and thro’ the forest
Its golden edge o’er the mountain ledge looks down on the
stockyard fence,
Looks down, looks down, looks down on the stockyard fence;
And dark creeks rush thro’ the tangled brush, when their
shuddering shadows throng
Until they chime in the rude rough rhyme of the wild
goburra’s song.


Till they chime, ha! ha! till they chime, ha! ha! in the
wild goburra’s song;
Till they chime, ha! ha! till they chime, ha! ha! in the
wild goburra’s song.

The night owl to her home hath fled, to shun the glorious
Of golden day she speeds away to her nest in the tea-tree
Away, away to her nest in the tea-tree swamp.

The dingo looks with a timid stare as he stealthily prowls
And his pattering feet in concert beat with the wild goburra’s

Chorus: And they beat, ha! ha! &c.

Oh! let them boast their city’s wealth, who toil in a dusty
Give me the beam on the mountain stream, and the range’s
dark-faced frown—
The stream, the stream, and the range’s dark-faced frown.
When our steed shall pass o’er the quiv’ring grass, and the
crack of the sounding thong
Shall bid the startled echoes join the wild goburra’s song.

Chorus: And they join, ha! ha! &c.


(Air: “She Wore a Wreath of Roses.”)

He wore an old blue shirt the night that first we met,
An old and tattered cabbage-tree concealed his locks of jet;
His footsteps had a languor, his voice a husky tone;
Both man and dog were spent with toil as they slowly
wandered home.


I saw him but a moment—yet methinks I see him now—
While his sheep were gently feeding ’neath the rugged
mountain brow.

When next we met, the old blue shirt and cabbage-tree were
A brand new suit of tweed and “Doctor Dod” he had put on;
Arm in arm with him was one who strove, and not in vain,
To ease his pockets of their load by drinking real champagne.

I saw him but a moment, and he was going a pace,
Shouting nobbler after nobbler, with a smile upon his

When next again I saw that man his suit of tweed was gone,
The old blue shirt and cabbage-tree once more he had put on;
Slowly he trudged along the road and took the well-known
From the station he so lately left with a swag upon his back.

I saw him but a moment as he was walking by
With two black eyes and broken nose and a tear-drop
in his eye.


There’s a trade you all know well—
It’s bringing cattle over—
I’ll tell you all about the time
When I became a drover.
I made up my mind to try the spec,
To the Clarence I did wander,
And bought a mob of duffers there
To begin as an overlander.


Pass the wine cup round, my boys;
Don’t let the bottle stand there,
For to-night we’ll drink the health
Of every overlander.

Next morning counted the cattle
Saw the outfit ready to start,
Saw all the lads well mounted,
And their swags put in a cart.

All kinds of men I had
From France, Germany, and Flanders;
Lawyers, doctors, good and bad,
In the mob of overlanders.

Next morning I set out
When the grass was green and young;
And they swore they’d break my snout
If I did not move along.
I said, “You’re very hard;
Take care, don’t raise my dander,
For I’m a regular knowing card,
The Queensland overlander.”

’Tis true we pay no license,
And our run is rather large;
’Tis not often they can catch us,
So they cannot make a charge.
They think we live on store beef,
But no, I’m not a gander;
When a good fat stranger joins the mob,
“He’ll do,” says the overlander.

One day a squatter rode up.
Says he, “You’re on my run;
I’ve got two boys as witnesses.
Consider your stock in pound.”

I tried to coax, then bounce him,
But my tin I had to squander,
For he put threepence a head
On the mob of the overlander.

The pretty girls in Brisbane
Were hanging out their duds.
I wished to have a chat with them,
So steered straight for the tubs.
Some dirty urchins saw me,
And soon they raised my dander,
Crying, “Mother, quick! take in the clothes,
Here comes an overlander!”

In town we drain the wine cup,
And go to see the play,
And never think to be hard up
For how to pass the day.
Each has a sweetheart there,
Dressed out in all her grandeur—
Dark eyes and jet black flowing hair.
“She’s a plum,” says the overlander.


(Air: “Ten Thousand Miles Away.”)

Hurrah for the Roma railway! Hurrah for Cobb and Co.,
And oh! for a good fat horse or two to carry me Westward
To carry me Westward Ho! my boys, that’s where the cattle
On the far Barcoo, where they eat nardoo, a thousand miles


Then give your horses rein across the open plain,
We’ll ship our meat both sound and sweet, nor care what
some folks say;
And frozen we’ll send home the cattle that now roam
On the far Barcoo and the Flinders too, a thousand miles

Knee-deep in grass we’ve got to pass—for the truth I’m
bound to tell—
Where in three weeks the cattle get as fat as they can swell—

As fat as they can swell, my boys; a thousand pounds they
On the far Barcoo, where they eat nardoo, a thousand miles

Chorus: Then give your horses rein, &c.

No Yankee hide e’er grew outside such beef as we can freeze;
No Yankee pastures make such steers as we send o’er the
As we send o’er the seas, my boys, a thousand pounds they
From the far Barcoo, where they eat nardoo, a thousand
miles away.

Chorus: Then give your horses rein, &c.


(Air: “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane.”)

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


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

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

Chorus: The stockyard’s broken down, &c.

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

Chorus: The stockyard’s broken down, &c.

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

Chorus: The stockyard’s broken down, &c.


You often have been told of regiments brave and bold,
But we are the bravest in the land;
We’re called the Tag-rag Band, and we rally in Queensland,
We are members of the Wallaby Brigade.


Tramp, tramp, tramp across the borders,
The swagmen are rolling up, I see.
When the shearing’s at an end we’ll go fishing in a bend.
Then hurrah! for the Wallaby Brigade.

When you are leaving camp, you must ask some brother tramp
If there are any jobs to be had,
Or what sort of a shop that station is to stop
For a member of the Wallaby Brigade.

Chorus: Tramp, tramp, tramp, &c.

You ask me if they want men, you ask for rations then,
If they don’t stump up a warning should be made;
To teach them better sense—why, “Set fire to their fence”
Is the war cry of the Wallaby Brigade.

Chorus: Tramp, tramp, tramp, &c.

The squatters thought us done when they fenced in all their
But a prettier mistake they never made;
You’ve only to sport your dover and knock a monkey over—
There’s cheap mutton for the Wallaby Brigade.

Chorus: Tramp, tramp, tramp, &c.

Now when the shearing’s in our harvest will begin,
Our swags for a spell down will be laid;
But when our cheques are drank we will join the Tag-rag
Limeburners in the Wallaby Brigade.

Chorus: Tramp, tramp, tramp, &c.

To knock a monkey over is to kill a sheep, monkey being
slang for sheep in many parts of the bush.


Let Romanists all at the Confessional kneel,
Let the Jew with disgust turn from it,
Let the mighty Crown Prelate in Church pander zeal,
Let the Mussulman worship Mahomet.

From all these I differ—truly wise is my plan,
With my doctrine, perhaps, you’ll agree,
To be upright and downright and act like a man,
That’s the religion for me.

I will go to no Church and to no house of Prayer
To see a white shirt on a preacher.
And in no Courthouse on a book will I swear
To injure a poor fellow-creature.

For parsons and preachers are all a mere joke,
Their hands must be greased by a fee;
But with the poor toiler to share your last “toke”*
That’s the religion for me.

[Footnote: “Toke” is a slang word for bread.]

Let Psalm-singing Churchmen and Lutheran sing,
They can’t deceive God with their blarney;
They might just as well dance the Highland Fling,
Or sing the fair fame of Kate Kearney.

But let man unto man like brethren act,
My doctrine this suits to a T,
The heart that can feel for the woes of another,
Oh, that’s the religion for me.


Lonely and sadly one night in November
I laid down my weary head in search of repose
On my wallet of straw, which I long shall remember,
Tired and weary I fell into a doze.
Tired from working hard
Down in the labour yard,
Night brought relief to my sad, aching brain.
Locked in my prison cell,
Surely an earthly hell,
I fell asleep and began for to dream.

I dreamt that I stood on the green fields of Erin,
In joyous meditation that victory was won.
Surrounded by comrades, no enemy fearing.
“Stand,” was the cry, “every man to his gun.”
On came the Saxons then,
Fighting our Fenian men,
Soon they’ll reel back from our piked volunteers.
Loud was the fight and shrill,
Wexford and Vinegar Hill,
Three cheers for Father Murphy and the bold cavaliers.

I dreamt that I saw our gallant commander
Seated on his charger in gorgeous array.
He wore green trimmed with gold and a bright shining
On which sunbeams of Liberty shone brightly that day.
“On,” was the battle cry,
“Conquer this day or die,
Sons of Hibernia, fight for Liberty!
Show neither fear nor dread,
Strike at the foeman’s head,
Cut down horse, foot, and artillery!”

I dreamt that the night was quickly advancing,
I saw the dead and dying on the green crimson plain.
Comrades I once knew well in death’s sleep reposing,
Friends that I once loved but shall ne’er see again.
The green flag was waving high,
Under the bright blue sky,
And each man was singing most gloriously.
“Come from your prison, Bourke,
We Irishmen have done our work,
God has been with us, and old Ireland is free.”

I dreamt I was homeward, back over the mountain track,
With joy my mother fainted and gave a loud scream.
With the shock I awoke, just as the day had broke,
And found myself an exile, and ’twas all but a dream.


When I was at home I was down on my luck,
And I earned a poor living by drawing a truck;
But old aunt died, and left me a thousand—“Oh, oh,
I’ll start on my travels,” said Billy Barlow.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
So off to Australia came Billy Barlow.

When to Sydney I got, there a merchant I met,
Who said he would teach me a fortune to get;
He’d cattle and sheep past the colony’s bounds,
Which he sold with the station for my thousand pounds.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
He gammon’d the cash out of Billy Barlow.

When the bargain was struck, and the money was paid,
He said, “My dear fellow, your fortune is made;
I can furnish supplies for the station, you know,
And your bill is sufficient, good Mr. Barlow.”
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
A gentleman settler was Billy Barlow.

So I got my supplies, and I gave him my bill,
And for New England started, my pockets to fill;
But by bushrangers met, with my traps they made free,
Took my horse and left Billy bailed to a tree.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
“I shall die of starvation,” thought Billy Barlow.

At last I got loose, and I walked on my way;
A constable came up, and to me did say,
“Are you free?” Says I, “Yes, to be sure; don’t you know?”
And I handed my card, “Mr. William Barlow.”
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
He said, “That’s all gammon,” to Billy Barlow.

Then he put on the handcuffs, and brought me away
Right back down to Maitland, before Mr. Day.
When I said I was free, why the J.P. replied,
“I must send you down to be i—dentified.”
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
So to Sydney once more went poor Billy Barlow.

They at last let me go, and I then did repair
For my station once more, and at length I got there;
But a few days before, the blacks, you must know,
Had spear’d all the cattle of Billy Barlow.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
“It’s a beautiful country,” said Billy Barlow.

And for nine months before no rain there had been,
So the devil a blade of grass could be seen;
And one-third of my wethers the scab they had got,
And the other two-thirds had just died of the rot.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
“I shall soon be a settler,” said Billy Barlow.

And the matter to mend, now my bill was near due,
So I wrote to my friend, and just asked to renew;
He replied he was sorry he couldn’t, because
The bill had passed into a usurer’s claws.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
“But perhaps he’ll renew it,” said Billy Barlow.

I applied; to renew he was quite content,
If secured, and allowed just three hundred per cent.;
But as I couldn’t do, Barr, Rodgers, and Co.
Soon sent up a summons for Billy Barlow.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
They soon settled the business of Billy Barlow.

For a month or six weeks I stewed over my loss,
And a tall man rode up one day on a black horse;
He asked, “Don’t you know me?” I answered him “No.”
“Why,” said he, “my name’s Kinsmill; how are you,
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
He’d got a fi. fa. for poor Billy Barlow.

What I’d left of my sheep and my traps he did seize,
And he said, “They won’t pay all the costs and my fees;”
Then he sold off the lot, and I’m sure ’twas a sin,
At sixpence a head, and the station giv’n in.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
“I’ll go back to England,” said Billy Barlow.

My sheep being sold, and my money all gone,
Oh, I wandered about then quite sad and forlorn;
How I managed to live it would shock you to know,
And as thin as a lath got poor Billy Barlow.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
Quite down on his luck was poor Billy Barlow.

And in a few weeks more, the sheriff, you see,
Sent the tall man on horseback once more unto me;
Having got all he could by the writ of fi. fa.,
By way of a change he’d brought up a ca. sa.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
He seized on the body of Billy Barlow.

He took me to Sydney, and there they did lock
Poor unfortunate Billy fast “under the clock;”
And to get myself out I was forced, you must know
The schedule to file of poor Billy Barlow.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
In the list of insolvents was Billy Barlow.

Then once more I got free, but in poverty’s toil;
I’ve no “cattle for salting,” no “sheep for to boil;”
I can’t get a job—though to any I’d stoop,
If it was only the making of portable soup.”
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
Pray give some employment to Billy Barlow.

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