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Dud Mills' Poems

Send Her Down Hughie (1953)

Send her down, Hughie!" the rouseabouts roared
In an obscene petition addressed to our Lord.
The clouds gloomed above, had darkened the plain,
And the shearers were racing to cut off the rain.

They were paid on a contract, no profit to shirk,
And wet sheep were out--no money, no work;
But the "blue-tongues" were different, and chancing no loss,
For wet days, like dry days, were paid by the Boss.

Wethers were shedded, and packed tight and hard,
Quite a lot underneath, but some left in the yard.
"We are needing a spell and, we've got bed and board.
So send her down, Hughie !" the rouseabouts roared.

Pyrotechnic displays, with the wild thunders clap,
And the lightning ran zig-zags from the shed to the Gap,
A Cool breeze that tickled sneaked over the plain
And the box leaves were stirring to herald the rain.

The shearers were cursing, the "rousies" all cheered
And the Boss muttered oaths deep down in his beard,
For their wages go on, and they breakfast and sup,
But those sixty wet wethers are holding him up.

They, gorged on the brownie and lay in their bunks,
And the cook would refer to "them low-livin' skunks";
No work and full pay--how their slack spirits soared ;
So, "Send her down, Hughie!" the rousebouts roared.

The gilgais were full and the dams reached the top,
But the plain was a sea ere it offered to stop;
Soon the musterers had rallied their horses and dogs
And set off for the strays through the slush and the bogs.

They shedded that night as crimson sun set,
Their fleeces were dry but the bellies were wet;
Said the boss of the board, "We must give them a fly,"
So they put in their paper and voted 'em dry;

But the "rouses" were set on disturbing the peace:
Said one picker-up,"There's a frog in this fleece."
The shearer was shrewd, tho'--he tried to be just--
"Perhaps you are right, but I can't see for dust."

The hatchets were buried, and they boarded the truck,
With hand-shakes all round, "Good-bye and good-luck."
"We'll meet at the crutching," said the Boss of the board
So, "Send her down, Hughie!" the rouseabouts roared.


From the NSW Newspaper the Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative 28 May 1953 p. 3.

In his Index Ron Edwards cites the Rousies' Hymn (Tune -- What a Friend We have In Jesus) a fragment he collected from Don Johnson of Cairns in 1971.
What a friend we have in Jesus,
Sending all the lovely rain,
Fills the rousie's heart with pleasure,
And the shearer's heart with pain.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory