Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

The Spud Digger

I started out six weeks ago,
And took the Molong road;
From there I made to Orange,
Where I took up my abode.

My cash got short, I thought I'd make
In this part a short stop
Where every farmer seemed to have
Potatoes their main crop.

One day, while cycling on the road,
I met a baker's cart;
The driver pulled me up and said,
" Do you want a start?"

I said, "At what?" The driver said
" Oh, diggin", don't you know;
Diggin' spuds, there's acres here.
This is the place they grow."

"Oh, well," I said, "I don't mind that,
It's work I'm looking for."
"Well, then," he said, " go down to Fitz."
He'll put you on, I'm sure."

I thanked him then, and starting off
At a rattling good old pace,
And after riding for a mile,
I pulled at Fitz's place.

I asked the Missus for a job,
She said, " Go to the boss"
And showed him among the spuds,
Giving the bags a toss.

I started off to see the boss,--
And when I reached the place,
I saw two Sydney diggers there,
Amaking hot the pace.

The boss was standing, shaking bags,
And giving orders, too,
And every stroke the diggers gave--
Well, out the 'taters flew.

I began to think the job was hard,
When every now and then,
You'd see the diggers stretch their back,
And then they'd bend again.

They kept this up till dinner time--
I thought they had good heart
Then, knowing I was good at toil,
I tapped the boss to start.

He asked me if I dug before,
I said, without a smile,
" I dug potatoes years ago
In dear old Erin's Isle."

He said to me, " I'll get a fork,
And you'll, start right away."
I thought myself I'd make a start,
If I lasted but one day.

He brought the fork. I started then
To throw the 'taters out.
'Twas hard for mo to keep myself
From spreading them about.

I dug away an hour or two,
My back began to sag.
So then, I thought, to ease my back,
I'd make a start, to bag.

I got my bags and bucket up,
And at then I went,
But soon, I found at baging up,
One's back was always bent

I struggled on to bag them up,
No doubt it caused me pain.
It made me think I'd never dig
Another spud again.

That night I asked young Baxter
How his back stood it at first.
He said his back was awful bad,
But his trouble most was thirst.

Young Carney said his trouble was,
When he got on the joint,
How he was going to earn enough
To buy himself a pint.

These lads they came from Surry Hills
About six weeks ago,
And now they're anchored digging spuds,
'Twixt hail storms, sleet and snow.

Spud diggers here have not to fear--
They have a good long job --
They're paid to dig eight pence per bag,
And they earn per week ten bob.

Bush Poet.


From the NSW paper the Bathurst Times Saturday 21 June 1913 p. 4.

See also earlier publication in the NSW paper the Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative Thursday 12 June 1913, p. 26.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory