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A Wallaby Song (1894)


Up with the billy and on with the swag,
work may be scarce but what care we,
Sheep-dip, tobacco, and full tucker bag,
Oh the swagman's life is jolly and free.

In the flax of the river we'll lie and dream,
Plenty of time to reach somewhere by night,
Oh we love the sound of tha lazy stream.

Graft's all right by way of a change,
When you want a cheque for a harvest spree,
But these pound-a-week days it's better to range
With the swag and the billy light-hearted and free.

I met an old joker wot comes from South,
And we dodged along together a while,
And he cried for a job with so poor a mouth
That if I were like him--well, I should smile.

Wot's the jolly use of working all year
Clo'se and tucker is all you'll get,
Why it make, a bloke quite sick to hear
The way that some coves will "whip the cat."

Had by the publicans, that's the cry,
Shut the shanties and give us a show,
Man ! but the world will be mighty dry
When you sling down the tanner and beer's no go.

There's nothing in beer when you're off the wine,
Black Jack in the billy's enough for me,
And keeping the bags full's just where I shine.
You're right if you've yan and sugar and tea.

"Breakfast on turnips," I hear you say,
It ain't much fun and it ain't my line,
You need a chart to show you the way
To the ploughman's camp where you want to dine.

Man, you're a new chum it's easy to tell,
Camps ! Why I'd scent 'em a mile away,
Stations go by the stronger smell,
You may laugh and go hungry, that ain't my way.

Up with the billy and on with the swag,
Round the Amuri and down to the plain,
Tea and sugar and full tucker bag,
And back to the flour and mutton again.

--"Auckland Weekly Times."


From the Victorian Newspaper the Camperdown Chronicle 20 Feb 1894 p. 4.

See also The Broadford Courier and Reedy Creek Times 2 Feb 1894 p. 5.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory