Australian Folk Songs

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Shearing Time (1899)

Shearing has Started at Kenilworth Station ;
The sheep are all mustered ; the shearers are here,
Answering the roll call, discussing the weather,
And taking their "stands" with the best of good cheer.

Tommy Swinburn's the "ringer," his tally first day
Stands at ninety-eight--but young Davie McCue
Is pushing him close, he has just ninety seven,
And that makes poor Tommy look awfully blue.

He can't bear to be beaten, least of all by young David,
Who has only been shearing three years last July ;
He thinks 'twould be disgrace to loet David get past him--
Such hardy old customers never say die.

At "smoko-ho" next morning old Tommy had thirty,
While Davie had only turned out twenty eight,
Though the old fellow's back is so bad with rheumatics
That he winces-if only he tries to stand straight.

At one end of the shed, by a long narrow table,
Stands the wool-roller; he rolls up the fleece,
Then passes it on to the presser behind him--
The bales hold about seventy apiece.

Then they are sown up, branded and numbered,
Ready for "Carrier Jim" and his team ;
They load up the waggon, Jim shouts at his horses
And cracks his long whip over "Nugget" and "Bream."

Hard is the life of the average shearer--
His food of the plainest, not always well cooked ;
They sleep all together, p'raps nineteen or twenty,
In a "hut" where their comfort is quite overlooked.

And yet they are as happy and jolly as possible,
Laughing and joking, while one sings a song;
Dick McCue has a "fiddle," his brother can "step,"--
The "hut" rings again with the old tune.

--MARJORIE. 19/9 '99.


From the NSW Newspaper the Muswellbrook Chronicle Sat 23 Sep 1899 p. 1.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory