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Sydney Bob The Shearer (1988)

As winter winds were blowing from gloomy Western Tiers
Into our homestead cosy rode one of eighty years ;
A most arresting picture, a figure old and seared,
A face all lined and wrinkled, a flowing ragged beard.

We ceased our merry chatter and gathered round him there
For we liked old Syd the shearer on his patient ambling mare.
Beside our cheery fireside whilst winds were blowing shrill
A bent and ancient figure sits motionless and still.

Only eyes are moving, steel blue and very keen
While Sydney Bob the Shearer dreams on of things he's seen.
A sudden cough and shuffle of heavy hob-nailed boots
And into a land of magic Syd's spell-bound listener shoots.

"New South Wales he travelled, tramped it too" he said
"Over the broken ranges till he reached the shearers' shed"
Weird black lackeys and Chinese cooks, exiled men from hone,
All of them bungled through Sydney's dreams, thoughts just gone aroam.

Way up North he'd tramped it to Queensland's shearing sheds
And there he beat all records - over the shearers' heads,
For none could shear like him in those wild and roaring days
When they camped and sang and bantered beside the campfire's blaze.

To New Zealand next he hooked it over the salt sea foam
Still abent on shearing, ajourneying from home.
Aye, here and there he hooked it, until his final rest
And the soul of Syd the Shearer went journeying out West.


From the Tasmanian magazine the Western Tiers 21 July 1988, p. 28.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory