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Across the Western Plains

Oh for me grog my jolly jolly grog
Oh for me beer and tobacco
Well I spent all my tin in a shanty drinking gin
Now across the Western Plain I must wander

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

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

I'll take that Old Man Plain and I'll cross it once again
Until me eyes the track no longer see boys
And my beer and whisky brain looks for sleep but all in vain
And I feel as if I had the Darling Pea boys

So hang that blasted grog, that hocussed shanty grog
And the beer that's loaded with tobacco
Grafting humour I am in and I'll stick the peg right in
And I'll settle down once more for some hard yakka


First printed in the Bulletin in May 1916.

Reworked from a sailor's song 'Noggin Boots' or 'Across the Western Ocean'

The song, or a related one, was also known as "All for Me Grog"
was mentioned in the Tasmanian Newspaper the North West Post" of 20 Jul 1889.

The Loyal Star of the Sea Lodge, M.U., I.O.O.F.,
celebrated their second annual banquet at Rockliffe's Hotel, Ulverstone, on Wednesday evening

Bro Johnstone (Victoria) sang, "The rolling stone gathers no moss," and, being re-called, "All for my grog."
This version from the singing of A.L.Lloyd who writes "Sung straight the song never seemed to me wildly exiting, but once I heard a drunken shearer named White sing it on a station near Bethungra NSW, in a way that would make the hair stand on end."

In 1925 the Tasmanian newspaper the Advocate, carried a story under the title "The Rum Drinkers"

"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest,
Yo, ho ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest;
Yo, ho ho, and a bottle of rum!"

In the bad old days of the Coast, as well as other places, as far as the "old hands" were concerned, rum was the national drink, and many of the old fellows could swallow it like drinking new milk. In the early days of Latrobe a good many of those old fellows, who led a nomadic life, would como down to Sassafras for the harvest and potato digging, and as there were some good workers among them, at the end of the season they would have good cheques, coming to them. During the time they were working they would deny themselves various necessaries, so that, they could have a good "rum-burst" at the finish.

Well, about. a mile out of Latrobe, on the road to Moriarty, there used to stand an old two-roomed place which was always known to us kiddies as the "Swipers' Hut," and this place was often tenanted by as many as a dozen of these old follows at the one time. On wet days one of their number would be deputed to bring rum out by the gallon from Latrobe to the old camp. Needless to say, the carousals there were often fast and furious. Many a time other boys and myself would hide in the scrub that surrounded the hut, and listen to the wild singing, and, I am sorry to say, cursing that went on.

There was one little old wizened man, who looked nearly a hundred, whom we had christened "Jimmy, the Rat." He used to talk in an awful squeaky kind of voice, and one of his favorite songs went, as far as I can remember, Something like this:

All for the grog, the jolly, jolly grog,
All for the beer and tobacco.
That's how I spent my tin, with the ladies, drinking gin,
But that sort of fun is now over.

And from what I have heard of that man since it appears that, the song suited his character to a T, for he lived all his life just for beer and tobacco, and was found dead in a tap-room fireplace at the age of 84. Does it not seem wonderful that a man should live to such a great, age after taking so much poison into his body in the way of alcohol and nicotine? But there you are. He nearly reached the century, and had the horrors lots of times. Many a man who makes a study of his diet, slips off quietly in early life.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory