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The Shearer's Lament (1917)

And now to the humorous side of way-out beyond, for humour there is in all things.
"The Idiot" once struck a whaler on the Barwon, and us the day registered, 113 in the
shade, the query arose as to whether Hades was hotter than Walgett. "Not on your life,"
said Whiskers, "why, don't you know that the blokes who die in Walgett find it so cold
below that they have to wear blankets."

The same evening, the veteran became sentimental, and I found that he was an
intellectual derelict, an M.A. of Oxford University. After the fifth go at the bottle,
he became maudlin, and, to lull him to sleep, I sang him the "Shearer's lament."

Here it is :-

I hear the jumbucks sweetly callin',
Callin' to me;
I see their fleeces fallin', fallin',
Shorn by me,
Oh for the land of the Never Never,
Oh for the old machine hum,
Oh for wet sheep, bad cooks, and spoilt tucker
Jumbuck I come, jumbuck I come.

Oh the many long miles that were travelled,
Travelled by me,
Oh for the many big cheques that were busted
But not by me,
Oh for the face of the old growler,
Who once on his lyre did strum,
A song of bad huts, rough sheep, & low tallies,
Jumbuck I come, jumbuck I come.

Oh when they wanted top prices for tucker;
They charged it up to me,
And when I was hunted by bugs from my blankets,
I sang merrily,
But those were the days before we united,
The days of black sugar and rum,
Of ten, ten, and two, wlth quarter chucked in
Oh jumbuck I come, jumbuck I come.

I long now for hollow trees which have been dossed in,
Dossed in by me,
When I sleep 'neath the mulga with saddle for pillow,
I was careless and free,
Yet I longed then for nights of bedwarmers and bedsteads,
But how oft you'll hear this chick hum,
Oh give me the smell of the warm fleece a-fallln',
Jumbuck I come, jumbuck I come.


From the NSW newspaper the Blue Mountain Echo Friday 16 November 1917 p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory