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A Song of '91

Your brave defenders are engaged in battle's stern array,
They're going into the bush to fight for glory, not for pay;
On shearers and on rouseabouts we'll make the bullets pour,
We're Queensland's standing army, and we're ordered on to war.

To the war, to the war; we'll all go marching to the war;
When the drums are beating and the sheep are bleating
and all the little lambs go "Baa, baa, baa!"
Then a-tramping, a-stamping, and a-ramping with a rush,
We'll guard against stray bullets at the war out in the bush.

There's no one knows what we can do when we go to the West,
But we can give a guarantee to do our very best;
We'll keep our bellies full of grub; its orders and the law
Of Queensland's bold defenders when they're - marching on to war.

Among the squatters' mutton we will promise to succeed;
We'll grease our chops with fine fat lambs of pure merino breed;
So let the trumpet sound again, we hear the battle roar.
We'll glory gain in hatfuls when we're fighting in the war.

So sling your best leg forward, boys, and buckle on the gun,
For scabs and blacklegs roll along; there'll soon be whips of fun;
Though every shearer in the land with bullet holes we'll bore,
For none can stand before us when we're fighting in the war.

With deeds of cruel carnage, with battles lost, and won,
You'll shed a tear of sympathy for every mother's son;
For every way-worn sodger who perished in his gore
When out as scab-protectors in that cruel sheep-skin war.


From the Worker Thursday 10 April 1924 p. 4.

Dear "Worker,"
During the shearers' strike of 1891 Charters Towers was not behind with a helping hand. I remember we got up a play, and the Charters Towers O'Callagan Opera Company collected over 100 in one night.

The following song which was sung by Corp. Callagan, which was composed by the late John Plumper Hoolan. Your humble servant was one of the artists on that occasion.

Being a reader of the "Worker" from the days of Billy Lane and Monte Scott, I am delighted with your articles re the shearers' strike, and thought I would send this bit along. With best wishes  
Yours, etc.,
J. J. Sweeney.
Co District Hospital, Charters Towers.
(O'Calligan Opera Company, Charters Towers, 1891)


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory