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On the Wallaby (1887)


Yes--I'm on the wallaby, Mister. You're right,
I sleep in these blankets a'most every night.
Don't I sometimes catch cold? Well, maybe I do,
But, I don't think as often as folks who're like you.

Don't I like steady work? Well, yes, for a while,
\Until I can knock up some sort of a pile.
If I gets too much bossing I aske for my whack,
And I ups with my swag and takes to the track.

Yes, I gets work a-shearing--a-harvestmg, too--
It don't matter much what a fellow does do ;
I wants baccy and tucker--well, yes, and some-beer--
I aint got no missus, nor childer to rear.

Oh, yes--it's fair country--'taint bad scen-er-y,
But a good level road and a pub.'s what suits me.
A man's allus welcome whose plenty o' tin,
But without it--it's no go, most places I've bin.

But tbe bushees ain't bad, there's plenty as will
Soon as look give a swagsman a drop and a fill ;
You see a'most all of 'em has been hard up,
And they'll find you a shelter, a bit and a sup.

In general, I camps, lights my fire where I be,
And puts on the billy and boils me some tea ;
Well--maybe if it's lonesome--that don't signify ;
You gets used to most things, it's no odds to I.

Oh, yes, I've bin digging, but hadn't much luck ;
There's them as done better ; I might if I stuck.
There's plenty besides, though, of them as did stop,
As hardly earned rations--so that ain't much chop.

Then sometimes I'm clearing or fencing a bit ;
Or I works on the roads ; or perhaps takes a fit,
And goes off to Sydney, and works on the Quay
Along with a stevedore--they all knows me.

I've got jobs on the new lines a'most everywhere
I've bin on the waterworks till they struck there,
Bin woolwashing, shepherding, dam-making, too ;
And once on a coaster as one of the crew.

I've bin ringbarking, droving--that's a pretty rough--
From Queensland to Adelaide, that was enough ;
I've bin groom in a pub. ; I've driven a team,
But bullocking's slow work--bit slower than steam.

I've bin unemployed, and I got sent away
Just where I'd a job-- yes, that was my lay,
I've bin a-surveying, I've loaded a truck,
But most what I've bin--has bin down on my luck.

Oh, yes, there's lots like me--we're most anywheres
There aint much as troubles us--cuz we don't care.
You're right, the next pub.'s round the corner, I think,
So we'll pull up a minute--come, let's have a drink.


From the NSW newspaper the Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser Saturday 5 February 1887, p. 300.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory