Australian Folk Songs

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Mustering Song

Captain Cook

The boss last night in the hut did say,
"We start to muster at break of day.
So be up first thing, and don't be slow;
Saddle your horses and off you go."

So early in the morning, so early in the morning,
So early in the morning, before the break of day

"Such a night in the yard there never was seen,
The horses were fat and the grass was green;
Bursting of girths and slipping of packs
As the stockmen saddled the fastest hacks.

Across the plains we jog along
Over gully, swamp, and billabong;
We drop on a mob pretty lively too,
We round 'em up and give 'em a slue.

Now the scrub grows thick and the cattle are wild,
A regular caution to this 'ere child,
A new-chum man on an old-chum horse
Who sails through the scrub as a matter of course.

I was close up stuck in a rotten bog,
I got a buster jumping a log;
I found this scouting rather hot,
So I joined the niggers with the lot we'd got.

A long-haired shepherd we chanced to meet,
With water-bag, billy, and dog complete;
He came too close to a knocked-up steer,
Who up a sapling made him clear.

Now on every side we faintly hear
The craok of the stockwhips drawing near;
To the camp the cattle soon converge
As from the thick scrub they emerge

We hastily comfort the inner man
With the warm contents of the billy-can,
The beef and damper are passed about
"Before we tackle the cutting out.

We're at it now, that bally calf
Would surely make a sick man laugh;
The silly fool can't take a joke,
I hope some day in the drought he'll croak.

We've got 'em now, the cows and calves--
Things here arc never done by halves--
Strangers, workers, and milkers too,
Of scrubbers also not a few.

It's getting late, we'd better push,
'Tis a good long way across the bush,
And the mob to drive are middling hard;
I do not think we'll reach the yard.

Until to-morrow morning, &c.


From The Queenslander 19 December 1891.

Many thanks to Rob Willis for suggesting this song for the collection.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory