Australian Folk Songs

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The Running of the Scrubbers (1934)


Come, listen, all you stockmen,
For I've a tale to tell
About a general muster,
Perhaps some know it well.

Back in the early nineties,
When men knew how to ride ;
Not now like in a show ring,
But down the mountain side.

Twenty big red Durham bullocks,
Strayed from the old homestead,
And joined a mob of scrubbers
Out near the Walchoo head.

Dick Holstein missed his cattle,
And uttered a dreadful curse:
"By hell, I'm going to get them,
Or they'll need to get the hearse."

He hired a noted rider,
John Joseph Grace by name--
A man that feared no where to ride
And had twenty years of fame.

And from the Walcha District
Came the famous Daniel Green;
Dan was the fiercest rider
That Nowendoc had ever seen.

One more rider joined the party--
The famous Charlie Clark;
I've seen him clear the timber
And saplings lose their bark.

Old Walter wouldn't join them,
For he was newly-wed;
The shrewd old joker said.
"I'll have to stay and mind the wife,"

In the morning they left the station,
With two bottles full of mirth,
Richard leading in his charge,
The others at his girth.

They camped with Harry Whitten,
And drank and sang all night;
Old Harry called Dan Green a squib,
Which ended in a fight.

Both men rolled their sleeves up,
While Charlie held their coats
And in another second
They were at each other's throats.

They had very little science,
But both knew how to hit.
And they tore in with defiance
For they were feeling fit.

The end came rather sudden,
Old Harry met a right
Which made his head feel dizzy,
And he said it spoiled his sight.

"Three cheers!" yelled Dick, excited
As he patted Daniel's back;
Then they climbed on to their horses
And rode along the track.

Dick kept the lead, as usual,
With Charlie in the rear;
They rode like phantom demons,
For nothing did they fear.

Racing down the mountain side,
Like outlaws to the raid,
Straight into a mob of stragglers
That were lying in the shade.

Bold Dick gave his orders
To the riders waiting near:
"We must get them to the top, boys,
Does every man now hear?"

The cattle started from their rest.
And soon are on the run,
With Charlie racing on the left,
His whip ringing like a gun.

A great red brute broke from the mob
With Dan Green at his side,
And with his greenhide whip
Chewed pieces from his side.

He wheeled him on a precipice,
'Twould make you hold your breath,
One more step and good-bye Dan,
To horse and man meant death.

And when the mob had quietened down,
The boys missed Joseph Grace:
Then they heard his stockwhip crack.
And then they saw a race.

Coming like a streak of lightning
Off the foaming mountain side,
Horse and scrubber's heads together
Holding one another stride for stride

"Ho, ho!" said Charlie, smiling,
As he wheeled his stock horse round
He cleared a broken gully
In one thunderous bound.

He raced along the offside
As John and bullock passed.
And showed them that old Tittle
Was just as blooming fast.

The bullock bucked and bellowed,
Which made the others laugh,
And at last he joined the mob
Like a little poddy calf.

The cattle then did steady down,
For it seemed they had had enough,
For those riders, they were horsemen
And could use a whip right rough.

They ran them into the Coopla River,
Into Tony Holstein's yards;
Their run made all exhausted,
So they settled down to cards.

Twenty great red Durham bullocks,
Without a single brand,
That would take a prize at Sydney,
They were so big and grand.

And now that you've heard my story,
Just give the lads three cheers;
And drink their health and glory--
The lads who have no fears.


From the NSW newspaper the Walcha News Friday 26 January 1934, p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory