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The Song of Tea (1929)

I've breasted the bars in the pubs out back,
And at the big hotels in town,
And I've cadged a bottle for on the track,
For a taste when the sun went down

I've drunk stale beer when the funds were low,
And supped champagne when the cash was mine,
And bright and red in the goblet's glow,
I've drunk of the sparkling, wine.

I've busted my cheque when shearing's done,
Or the crushing season's o'er,
I've tramped for weeks 'neath the the blazing sun,
Till the work came round once more.

And I've heard loud praise for the foaming ales,
That fill the glasses tall,
Though beer and rum and whisky prevails,
I know a drink that'll beat them all.

I've boiled my jack-shay by the sea,
I've boiled, it on the tracks out west,
And so, give to me the billy tea,
And let the others drink the rest.

For when I make my fire at night,
And watch' the gum sticks burn,
I sit for long in the ring of light,
And time's that are past return.

And I think of the days on the lonely track,
With the good old mates who were true to me--
Their, memories come all drifting back,
With a pannikin filled with quart pot tea.

And visions come of the bullock teams,
That struggled for days on end.
Across the plains through Western streams,
Ere they camped at the Teamster's Bend.

And the drovers pass, and the mustering days
On the stations again I know,
And my mates I see through a kind of haze,
Outside the camp-fire's glow.

And when at eve the silent shadows fall,
And end at last the long day's toil,
Swagmen, navvies, teamsters, drovers all,
Will watch their blackened billies boil.

And when the sun sinks in the West,
I think with me they'll all agree,
The drink that ever seems the best,
Is a pannikin filled with quart-pot tea.



From the NSW Newpaper the Scone Advocate 28 June 1929, p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory