Australian Folk Songs

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The Barcoo Publican (1898)

I'm of to the west where the wages are high,
Said the Bushman--to-morrow I start ;
I'm off to the West is the Publican's cry,
Where fools and their money soon part :
So the Bushman he goes with hopes in his heart,
And soon finds a job that will pay ;
While the Publican chooses a spot for as start--;
Takes a house and soon catches his prey.

A man takes to the road, and makes free with your purse ;
If he's caught, he the penalty knows ;
Whilst this legalised robber, whose, trade is a curse,
Builds a house and to Parliament goes.
At the door of his drinking shop gaily he stands,
And waits, as do spiders for flies ;
When a Bushman appears he chuckles and grins,
And hopes to net a rich prize.

"Hello, Bill. Good day; haven't seen you of late-
Been shearing or fencing this while ;
Come in for a spell, the heat's very great,
Come in man, and rest--that's the style."
"I'll have rum, and what's yours ?" is Bill's little speech,
Which has caused the host's pleasant reply ;
While they both settle down in the tap-room, and each
Empties his glass ;then spiders wink t'other eye.
"I'm now to Melbourne to see my poor wife,
For a year to keep steady I've tried."

Sit down till it's cool, as you value your life;
That's not a bad horse that you ride."
The poor fly is webbed for hocussed's the grog,
And Bill is asleep on the floor
While his pockets' are'picked/as he lies like a log,
Spider oft did the same trick before.

A few days soon pass, and Bill is brought, round
By the help of this kind Christian man :
Shouting "Hello there ! Get up off the ground,
You've been lushing champagne by the can ;
You've been shouting the fiz at a terrible pace,
Till there's not a drop left me to sell, ?
And a cheque don't go far at ten pounds a case,
So you owe me eight fifteen as well.

Never mind, my good fellow ; come don't look so glum ;
What's a cheque to a smart man like you;
Leave horse and belongings--here's a bottle of rum ;
You can come back and pay me what's due.
Poor wife, you might wait till your heart throbs with pain--
You might toil, you might slave, for your bairns,
But your Bill, will be hocussed again and again,
And robbed of each, cheque that he earns.

Deniliquin. 6 x 8


From the Melbourne radical journal the Tocsin 11 Aug 1898 p. 7.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory