Australian Folk Songs
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Stringybark Creek

A sergeant and three constables set out from Mansfield town
Near the end of last October for to hunt the Kellys down;
They started for the Wombat hills and thought it quite a lark
When they camped upon the borders of a creek called Stringybark.

They had grub and ammunition there to last them many a week,
And next morning two of them rode out, all to explore the creek,
Leaving McIntyre, behind them at the camp to cook the grub
And Lonergan to sweep the floor and boss the washing tub.

It was shortly after breakfast Mac thought he heard a noise
So gun in hand he sallied out to try to find the cause,
But he never saw the Kellys planted safe behind a log
So he sauntered back to smoke and yarn and wire into the grog.

But Ned Kelly and his comrades thought they'd like a nearer look
For being short of grub they wished to interview the cook;
And of firearms and cartridges they found they had too few,
So they longed to grab the pistols and the ammunition too.

Both the troopers at a stump alone they were well pleased to see
Watching as the billies boiled to make their pints of tea;
There they joked and chatted gaily never thinking of alarms
Till they heard the fearful cry behind, 'Bail up, throw up your arms

The traps they started wildly and Mac then firmly stood
While Lonergan made tracks to try and gain the wood,
Reaching round for his revolver but, before he touched the stock
Ned Kelly pulled the trigger and he dropped him like a rock.

Then after searching McIntyre all through the camp they went
And cleared the guns and cartridges and pistols from the tent,
But brave Kelly muttered sadly as he loaded up his guns,
"Oh, what a bloody pity that the bastard tried to run."


One of the many songs about the Kelly Gang. Ned Kelly has been the subject of a number of books the most recent being by Peter Cary. There are plenty of web sites too. On November 11th, 1880 he was hanged in Melbourne Jail, now a museum. The last words he uttered were “Such is life.” He was twenty five years of age and has been a hero of Australians ever since and phrases such as "Game as Ned Kelly" have entered the language. Several films have been made about Ned Kelly and he was the subject of the earliest feature film in Australia.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory