Australian Folk Songs
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The Cockies of Bungaree (1946)
Collected by Percy Jones
This version of the song was sent to Dr. Percy Jones who published it in 1946 with
the following introduction:"
"Strangely enough, it was the leaving the Ballarat goldfields for the "diggings" of
West Australia that was responsible for someone sending me the following ballad
describing the life on a farm at Bungaree.
Bungaree is a very fertile farming district just outside Ballarat and was almost
exclusively settled on by the Irish. Their descendants are still there to this day
and many is the third or fourth generation Australian who has still strong traces
of the Irish accent. There's no doubt about the nationality of the author of this
song, The Cockies of Bungaree."
Come all ye jolly travellers that's out of work, just mind
To take a trip to Bungaree and plenty there you'll find;
Have a trial with the cockies there and just take it from me,
I'm certain sure you'll rue the day you first saw Bungaree.
And how I came this weary way I mean to let you know,
Being out of employment, I didn't know where to go;
I called at a Registry Office and there I did agree
To take a job of clearing for a cocky in Bungaree.
Well, on the Monday morning, to work I had to go,
My noble shouted out to me, "Get up, you're rather slow,
Take this pick and shovel, set to work and grub that tree";
"Oh, begob," says I, " 'tis nice and light, this work in Bungaree."
Well, on the Tuesday morning, it was the usual go,
He called me to breakfast before the cocks did crow,
The stars were shining gloriously and the moon was high, you see,
And I thought before the sun would rise, I'd die in Bungaree.
When I went to supper, the time was half-past nine,
And when I had it ate, sure I thought it was bed-time,
But the cocky came to me saying, with a merry laugh,
"I want you for an hour or two to cut a bit of chaff."
And while we are chaff-cutting, he says, "It's quite a spell."
"Oh, begob, it is," says I, "and it's I that knows it well";
We always were a-quarrelling, we never could agree,
So at last, I made up my mind to leave old Bungaree.
So now my job is ended and I'm at liberty,
It's of the cocky's health and wealth I'm spending merrily,
I am no boasting fellow, no lies I ever told,
So if you will believe me now, it's the truth I did unfold.
See also in this collection A.L.Lloyd's version and the only version recorded in the field, that of the great Creswick ballad singer Simon McDonald
From the Melbourne journal the Advocate Magazine Wednesday 9 October 1946 p. 9.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory