Australian Folk Songs

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The Rattler (1931)

(By "Bill Bowyang.")

Here's a toast unto the rattler
That's a boon to ev'ry battler.
It puffs and snorts from Roma St.
to rocky Chillagoe.

From Quilpie to the Darling Downs,
Through settlements and dreamy towns,
And out beyond Cloncurry
where the brown bedourles blow.

And here is to the stoker
Who's a grimy hefty joker,
And here is to the engineer,
and don't forget the guard.

Bad luck to station masters
Who for jumpers plan disasters,
By calling up the law
to have them bolted in and barred.

Oft we make the upgrade easy
So's to have the boarding easy
When the stoker sweats and shovels
to the limits of his power.

Later on in jubilation
How be spurts into the station,
While we leave the jolting wagons
at near thirty miles an hour.

There is then some rare abusin'
As in most uncouth confusion
Fly the dllly bags and bilies
and a score or so of swags ;

In each heart rebellion rankles,
Gravel rashes, twisted ankles,
While we lick our sores and
contemplate our clobber torn to rags.

Have you met our high faluting
Finished ace at parachuting,
Who sets the feats of stunting
aerial champions a' naught ;

Ev'ry danger he finds thrilling,
He has jumped without a shilling
Ev'ry rattler in Australia,
and has never yet been caught.

Children sneer at our procession,
We're the heroes of depression,
And the world may go to blazes
but we shall not care a----

Though our living's most precarious,
And our menus short and various,
With seldom toothsome morsels
such as caviare or ham.

Mt Peters. D. B. O'CONNOR


From the Queensland Newspaper the Townsville Daily Bulletin 7 Dec 1931 p. 10.

Songs and poems like this were much more common right through the Great Depression than has formerly been recognised, but a number of Australian Newspapers ensured their popularity in those tough times.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory