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Review Of The Year

This year's been one continuous trouble,
Squatters fighting hand in hand,
Everything been in a muddle,
Floods extending through the land.
He that fought, and fought the hardest,
He that fought to pave the way,
He's the one that's been the farthest
Out of pocket in the fray.

He for days, aye, weeks together,
Through the country far and wide,
With a band they could not sever,
Breaking down the squatter's pride.
He's the foremost in the battle,
He's the trainer for the fight,
Beating the shearers' aim to muster,
He's the spokesman in the strike.

Some do well, while others suffer,
That's been so throughout the land.
Don't you hear the Union bugle,
On equal footing let all stand.
To forgive you must be forgiving,
So Merriula here's my hand,
No more from sheds you'll be forbidden,
No more you'll join the rebel band.

Ere this each man has seen his folly,
Everyone repents the day,
As he meets some Dunlop victor
Like a coward sneaks away.
Let there be no more division,
Let no deserter stand,
Come and sound the Union trumpet,
Come and join the Union band.

Won't you join us in the battle,
Join the men that nobly stood
For their rights with yours included,
Fighting for the country's good.
The squatter rich would eat your damper,
Fight you for your bit of pay,
(His picker up was Jack the Banker)
Threw up the sponge and lost the day.


From Hugh Anderson Colonial Ballads (1962) pp.137-138.

Shearing agreements varied from place to place, but one made in 1881 is an example. Payment was 17 shillings and 8 pence per hundred; food was bought from the squatter at a fixed price, and the hours of work definitely stated in the agreement. Here shearers began not later than six o'clock in the morning and continued until a half-an-hour before sunset, with an hour for breakfast and lunch and three short "smokos" during the day. On Saturday the shearers worked until three o'clock in the afternoon. This particular agreement says that "any shearer breaking a fleece will not be paid for shearing such sheep". Sheep considered by the owner or his overseer to be badly shorn were marked with a raddle stick, known as toby.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory