Australian Folk Songs

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The Run On Fire (1860)
(A long way after the ship on fire)
Air Optional.

A hot wind was blowing both furious and fast,
And new chums were used up by the heat of the blast,
And branches were torn off and flying like fun,
Making shepherds to wish they were not out on the run ;
The old hands with swags were unable to trudge,
So they cooled for the day, quite refusing to budge,
The cove was in drinking till all was quite blue,
Thinking heaven of that day he'd nothing to do ;
But he said to his head man, whom he termed his mate,
If the run catches fire we're cooked sure as fate,
Which pressing his hat on his head with it blow,
The mate merely answered, that would be a go.


It passed a fierce squall that was coming that way,
Lifting two or three sheets of the bark on its way,
A lull there ensued, and the wind got a stopper,
But 'twas not done aloft for the sky was like copper,
But of change there was none, for it got twice its hot,
And the birds dropped down flying without being shot,
The skipper looked dreadful and said he was blest,
The heat made you even too tired to rest,
But horror the black came and told to his cost,
That half of the sheep he had charge of were lost,
The blackfellows helped him his horse to bestride ;
And now to the bush, for his sheep he must ride,
Oh ! happy cried he if the sheep were but found,
You'd not see me this day with my head above ground,
Already in fancy their hoofs I descry,
And the dust from their feet curling up to the sky,
But I was quite green, the relflection is gall,
To let black fellows shepherd on my run at all,
They cannot be valued at even i ration,
I'll hunt every one of them off of the station.


Hallo ! what is that, bless me it's not smoke,
They never would do this just out of at joke,
Hark ! hark ! what was that, hark hark to the shout,
Fire, fire, and then a tramp and a rout,
An uproar of voices arose in the air
With loud adjorations, not certainly prayers ;
The cove galloped off the matter to see,
Crying loudly in agony all is U P.
He flew to his wool shed, but that is till right,
And then to his store in it deuce of a fright,
The fire came rushing just close by its side,
We most save it, he muttered, whate'er may betide
Quite, they turned it away, sent it off to the right,
So it went to the haystack and set that alight,
'Tis vain o'er the ravage the water to drip,
Flames helpled by the wind gave them quickly the slip,
And the cove looked up in an agony wild,
Oh ! gemini crimini my run is all spoiled,
But on went destruction, grass blazing like fun,
My word there's no gammon, it's settled the run.
Sad at heart though resigned and swearing, yet brave
They cut down some the paling the fencing to save ;
First went the verandah, which was iron tiled,
My word then the skipper looked awfully wild,
Then went the kitchen with its paling built flue,
And then blitzed the men's hut, oh ! what could they do,
But the wind slightly shifted, the smoke cleared
They could see it change coming, for 'twas now close of day,
And they prayed for a shower, which would without doubt,
Soon stay their exertions and put the flames out.
Oh ! the ship, oh ! the wool, if they're burnt woe is me,
Cried the skipper, who raved like a man on the spree,
But the rain falls in time the home station to save,
The fire is extinguished, though 'twas a close shave,
Tho' I've lost at few buildings they're wooden and cheap,
I've still saved the wool and the most of the sheep,
And for all your exertions and running about,
Bring the five gallon keg for a general shout ;
This is all, as a moral I'd merely suggest,
Give an eye to your run when the wind is N.W.

Corrosive Supplement,
Mount Gambier, March 10, 1860.


From the Victorian Newspaper the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser Wednesday 14 March 1860 p. 3.

See also


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory