Australian Folk Songs
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The Drover's Cook (1907)
He was working on a road job,
Out Tooraweenah way,
But he didn't like the work at all,
And he didn't like the pay.
He was getting six and sixpence,
And he didn't think it right,
For he had to work so hard all day
That he couldn't sleep at night.
He camped on an early riser,
On some leaves beneath a fly,
And he was always up before
The stars were off the sky.
He had only half a blanket,
And the nap was worn off that ;
So for convenience sake he slept in
His trousers, boots, and hat.
He longed for something better,
And he longed for change of life,
So he took a job of cooking,
Off a drover chap, named Fyfe.
And he drove along to Gummin,
With a free and easy mind,
And never once regretted
The job he'd left behind.
They were shearing at the station
And the drovers and the cook
Stopped the night and had their supper
With the shearers' "Babbling Brook."
They were taking sheep from Gummin,
Three thousand head or more,
And the drover 's cook was happy,
Though he'd never cooked before.
And they rose up in the morning
Before the break of day ;
And when the sun had risen,
They were a mile upon their way.
When the evening meal was over,
And his mates were all asleep,
The maiden cook then set to work
To kill his maiden sheep.
He tied its legs together
Put an edge upon his knife,
And by the camp fire murdered
The first sheep in his life.
It took him hours to skin it,
'Twas a picture then to see,
As on a rope it dangled
Beneath a leaning tree.
But he soon got used to killing,
And to fixing up the breaks,
And he soon got used to cooking
Stews and chops, and bread and cakes.
But he never had such trouble,
In the present or the past,
As the night he baked the damper,
When the rain was falling fast.
Beneath a leaning gum tree
He built a roaring fire,
Put the dough into an oven,
Which hung upon a wire.
The rain then fell in torrents,
And the cook was in a state,
As he stood above the oven,
Like a jockey losing weight.
With his overcoat he sheltered
That damper from the rain,
And he swore by all that's holy
That he'd never cook again.
And he cursed and swore like blazes;
But it didn't matters mend,
So he cooked on to the finish,
Till they reached their journey's end.
And he left his mates in Gulgong,
For a different way they took.
But the boss before he said adieu
Gave a reference to the cook.
Cooma, N.S.W. 'THE SINGER;'
From the NSW newspaper the Wellington Times Thursday 24 March 1907, p. 6.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory