Australian Folk Songs

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The Banks of the Riverine

(Supplied by J. R. R. St. Helen's.)
AIR.--"Banks of the Nile."

"Oh, hark I the dogs are barking, I can no longer stay;
The lads have all gone woolcutting, I heard the shepherds say;
So I must be off down the Yanko--that's many a long mile--
To meet Victorian shearers on the banks of Riverine."

"Oh! Willie, dearest Willie, don't leave me here to mourn,
To curse and rue the hour, love, that ever I was born.
The parting with you, Willie, is like parting with my life,
So be a free selector, love, and I will be your wife."

"Oh! Nancy, lovely Nancy, it's a thing I ne'er can do,
The squatters they expect me, love, each year I will do so;
But when shearing on the Murrumbidgee, love, I will, think on you with pride,
And my shears they will dash through the wool when I'm in the pen with Boyde."

Then I'll cut off my yellow looks and go along with you;
I'll dress in moleskin trousers, love, and be a shearer too;
I'll shear and keep your talley, while at shearing you will shine,
And I'll wash your greasy trousers on the banks of Riverine."

"Oh! Nancy, lovely Nancy, ashearing you can't go;
The squatters they give orders, love, no women there shall go.
Besides, your delicate constitution is not equal unto mine
To digest the ran-stag mutton on the banks of Riverine.

Your fingers are too slender, and your hands they are too small;
You could not shear a 'cobbler', love, when on you he did fall;
Besides, your delicate wrists, my love, upon him would not shine,
For there's hard and sandy cobblers on the banks of Riverine."

"Then my curse upon the shearing, and the hour it first began;
It causes all our young men to ramble very young;
It robs us of our sweethearts and our husbands for a time,
But we'll pray for them while shearing on the banks of Riverine."

"And when the shearing's over, and home we will return
Unto the wives and sweethearts we left at home to mourn,
We will kiss them and embrace them until the end of time,
And tell them of the sheep we shore on the banks of Riverine."


From the Queenslander Saturday 15 December 1894.

Flotsam and Jetsam.
Songs of the Bush.
[Some readers who have been kind enough to send in contributions for this column evidently do not understand that only bush songs are wanted. The majority of so-called songs sent in are simply poems, often of the senders own composition. While some of these are worthy of publication, and are therefore held with a view to future insertion, they can have no place in this column, which is reserved for songs and songs only.]

This song bears a close resemblance to " The Banks of Condamine" (Air--"Willie Riley"), published some weeks ago. Which is the original version we are unable to discover.--ED. Q.]


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory