Australian Folk Songs

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Track Mates (1923)

By "Bill Bowyang."

Oft our thoughts wander back to the men that we knew,
And the friendships that out of our miseries grew,
As we tramped side by side o'er the hot, scorched plain,
Our feet swollen and blistered and throbbing with pain,
As the day waned each weary back bent like a bow,
And our strides kept crowing shorter and shorter,
Anon sufferings the torments that all bushmen know
Who have tramped the day long without water.

Many great men have wandered along the wallaby track,
Yet some, sneer at a man with a swag on his back;
Stigmatise him as hobo, and loafer and scamp,
Pompey-dodging sundowner, and flour cadging tramp;
Say his seeking for work is a mockery and vain.
That while seeking he prays be won't find it;
Such a taunt is deprived of its sting when 'tis plain
Not a vestige of truth lies behind it.

So let us drink to our mates in the years that have passed,
When our prospects were small and our ambitions vast,
When we roamed through the bush where our comforts were few.
And to greater dimensions our cares daily grew.
We discovered their worth then though rough were their ways,
Better men never stood in shoe leather;
That is why our thoughts stray to the old battling days
When we tramped through the bushlands, together.

Townsville. JAX.


From the Queensland Newspaper the Northern Miner 20 Oct 1923 p. 7.

Songs like this one are much more common right through the Great Depression than has formerly been recognised, and Bill Bowyang's regular column "On The Track", ensured their popularity in those tough times.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory