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The Cotton Picker's Lament (1936)

On The Track

I don't know how it started but word soon got around
That Stumpy and his fellows were Dawson Valley bound,
They kind of got a notion this town was getting dead,
So they went to Dawson Valley to earn their dally bread,
They arrived at Jambin Station with nowhere to rest their head,
So they said, "We'll chuck our blankets underneath the milking shed,"
And after they were settled, and cleaned up all their stow.

They held a hasty meeting to decide just what to do,
Said Wock. "We'll take on farming and turn the precious soil,"
Said Stumpy, "I'll be a squatter. I'll squat here while you toil" ;
Said Mike. "We must do something or else we'll all be dead,
We'll try and make some money and paint Rockhampton red,"
Said George, in the corner, "My stay will be quite brief,
I'm not going back to Rocky on single man's relief,
It was only your idea that brought me out this far.

And I'm going back to-morrow if I've got I've got to buy a car."
"We'll all go cotton picking," said Stumpy with a grin,
"I've been through all the country and there is no place like Jambin,
A good idea said Wock. "It certainly appeals,
But if we all go picking who's going to cook the meals?"
"Now that's an easy matter." said Stumpy with cunning look,
"If us four go out picking let Georgie be the cook ;
Said Georgie, "Now listen Stumpy. don't try and come the bluff,
If you let me do the cooking you'll never eat the stuff."

"Now never mind your moaning," said Stumpy, bright and brisk,
"If you are game to do it we're game to take the risk,"
But Georgie declined the offer and so it was agreed,
They'd all go cotton-picking and never mind the feed,
And so they closed the meeting with nothing else in view,
It seemed that cotton picking was the only thing to do,
So toiling, rejoicing and sorrowing, the boys went on their way,
Hoping to find employment and come back rich some day.

And while the billy was boiling the boys prepared to eat,
The flies got in the syrup and a dingo grabbed the meat,
They up and chased the dingo with the speed of an Indian scout,
But somehow they upset the billy and so the fire went out,
And this concludes my story, I want to make it plain,
"If I get back to Rocky I'll never roam again,
You only learn bad habits, and drink And swear and curse,
If your life is bad in town lad, don't go from bad to worse.



From the Queensland Newspaper the Northern Miner 12 Oct 1936 p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory