Australian Folk Songs
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 Reedy River

                    [Chris Kempster sings Reedy River - recorded by Rob Willis 2002]

Ten miles down Reedy River, a pool of water lies
And all the year it mirrors the changes in the skies
And in that pool's broad bosom is room for all the stars
Its bed of sand has drifted, o'er countless rocky bars

Around the lower edges, there waves a bed of reeds
Where water rats are hidden and where the wild duck breeds
And grassy slopes rise gently to ridges long and low
Where groves of wattle flourish, and native bluebells grow

Beneath the granite ridges, the eye may just discern
Where Rocky Creek emerges from deep green banks of fern
And standing tall between them, the grassy sheoaks cool
The hard, blue-tinted waters, before they reach the pool

Ten miles down Reedy River one Sunday afternoon
I rode with Mary Campbell to that broad, bright lagoon
We left our horses grazing till shadows climbed the peak
And strolled beneath the sheoaks on the banks of Rocky Creek

Then home along the river, that night we rode a race
And the moonlight lent a glory to Mary Campbell's face
I pleaded for our future all through that moonlight ride
Until our weary horses drew closer side by side

Ten miles from Ryan's Crossing and five below the peak
I built a little homestead on the banks of Rocky Creek
I cleared the land and fenced it, and ploughed the rich, red loam
And my first crop was golden when I brought my Mary home

Now still down Reedy River, the grassy sheoaks sigh
The water-holes still mirror the pictures in the sky
The golden sand is drifting across the rocky bars
And over all for ever go sun and moon and stars

But of the hut I builded, there are no traces now
And many rains have levelled the furrows of my plough
The glad, bright days have vanished, for sombre branches wave
Their wattle blossom golden above my Mary's grave


'Reedy River' was written by Henry Lawson in 1896. Tune written by Chris Kempster in 1949. It seems that Chris' setting was the catalyst that set New Theatre to begin writing the musical 'Reedy River' a task that Dick Diamond took up and turned into what is now regarded as a classic Australian musical. Thanks to Chris Kempster for permission to use his tune in this collection.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory