Australian Folk Songs

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North To The Sheds (1901)

There's a whisper from the regions out beyond the Barwon banks ;
There's a gaihering of the legions and a forming of the ranks ;
There's a murmur coming nearer with the signs that never fail,
And it's time for every shearer to be out upon the trail.

They must leave their girls behind them and their empty glasses, too ;
For there's plenty left to mind them when they they cross the dry Barcoo ;
There'll be kissing, there'll be sorrow, such as only sweethearts know,
But before the noon to-morrow they'll be singing As they go--

For the Western creeks are calling
And the idle days are done,
With the snowy fleeces falling
And the Queensland sheds begun !

There is shortening of the bridle, there is tightening of the girth,
There is fondling of the idol that they love the best on earth ;
Forward from the Lachlan River and the sun-dried Castlereagh,
Outward to the Never-Never ride the ringers on their way.

From the green bends of the Murray they have run their horses in ;
For there's haste and there is hurry when the Queensland sheds begin ;
On the Bogan they are bridling, they are saddling on the Bland,
There is plunging and there's sidling--for the colts don't understand

That the Western creeks are calling
And the idle days are done,
With the snowy fleeces falling
And the Queensland sheds begun !

They will camp below the station, they'll be cutting peg and pole,
Rearing tents for occupation till the calling of the roll ;
And it's time the nags were driven, and it's time to strap the pack,
For there's never license given to the laggards on the track.

Hark the music of the battle ! It is time to bare our swords.
Do you hear the rush and rattle as they tramp along the boards ?
They are past the pen-doors picking light-woolled weaners one by one ;
I can hear the shear-blades clicking, and I know the fight's begun !

--W. Ogilvie.


From the Wagga NSW newspaper the Worker Saturday 22 June 1901, p. 2.

William Henry (Will) Ogilvie (1869-1963), poet and journalist, was born on 21 August 1869 near Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland. His love of horses and the ballads of Adam Lindsay Gordon turned his eyes to Australia. His father agreed that 'colonial experience' would benefit him. So in 1889 Will came to Australia and ... was wholly captivated by the outback and for twelve years roamed from the Channel country of Queensland to the Coorong of South Australia. Horse-breaking, droving, mustering and camping out on the vast plains became the salt of life to him. See more in the Australian Dictionary of Biography


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory