Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

Song of the Carriers (1910)

(By H.F.B.)

I sing the song of the carriers, of the waggons and the teams,
Of the muddy roads, and the dusty roads, and the black mud bottomed streams.
I sing the song of the clanking chains and the rattle of swingle bars,
As we drive them out by the light of day and back by the light of stars.
Oh, I sing the song of the carriers, long, loud and lustily,
Of a heavy load
A dusty road
And a sweltering team and me.

Oh, I sing the song of the station yards, and the rush and rack at the gate.
Of the teams that get weighed and can't unload, and the teams that have to wait.
And I sing tho song o' the lumpers, as as they handle tho bags with ease,
And their parting-words, which amount to this, "You can part up now if you please.
For the pulican's waiting for me on the corner below.'
When you say its dear,
They say So's beer.'
So settle your debts and go.

And I sing the song of the blazing sun, as you twin the team from town.
As it glides along in a glistening sky and its hot rays filter down,
And you think of a paddock that's hot and dry, and a hundred bags of wheat
That you'll have to lump that afternoon,
then you pause to curse the treat,
But your logical soul shall whisper, 'It ain't no use to fret,
Your carrying wheat,
And that means heat,
And work and worry and sweat.'

And I sing the song of the rising dust, as many a dust wraith flies
From the waggon wheels, till it finds a home in the corners of your eyes.
When you cannot see the leaders through the maze of yellow cloud.
That casts its legions to the sky, and forms a loathsome shroud.
Then you think ot a river that's far away, where cooling waters flow.
Of a sinimming hole--
Then old Bally's foal
Puts his foot on your pet corn toe.

I sing the song of the falling night, and the horses' weary trend
When the sun has gone o'er the Western hills, and you go by the moou instead.
When you drive the team on a lonely road through dreary leagues of bush,
And the eyrie sound of the curlew's wail comes fiend-like through the bush.
When camp fines glare in the distance,
the mountain side upon.
And fading streak
On some western peak
Shows the place where the sun has gone.

For tho carrier drives his honest teams through forests lone and deep
Where beasts nocturnal shout roam, and sombre shadows creep.
On dusty roads and lonely roads, on arid sun baked plains.
And e'er his ears find music in the clanking of the chains.
Tho clashing bars, the creaking wheels,
the rattle of the chains,
The trampling feet
Are music sweet
To soothe his doubts and pains.

And I sing the song of tho rainy time, when rivers are in flood,
When you can see your journey's end o'er two long miles of mud.
When things are going good enough, you whisper 'I'm in luck.'
Till suddenly the lender swerves, and then, 'By gum ! I'm stuck,'
Tho clashing whips, the clashing chains,
the driver's weary frown,
The words unfit.
Here to be writ,
And then Old Sol goes down,

When o'er the western hill you see the slowly setting sun.
When you have done a hard day's toil, and know your work is done.
When old age fetters can't repress the loud and joyous shout
When you have ta'en the harness off and turned the horses out.
Then I sing the song of a hearty meal
and sixteen cups of tea,
Of a heavy head
A feathery bed,
And a nightmare team and me.

New Mexico.


From the NSW newspaper the Manilla Express Saturday 5 February 1910, p. 6.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory