Australian Folk Songs

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On The Road To Coolgardie (1894)

[By a New Chum.]

When you're following the wagon, which is taking up your swag,
And you're footsore, hot, and thirsty, and you've lost your water bag,
And you're sick of glaring sandplains, then you wonder why on earth
It is they don't have goldfields, within easy ride of Perth.

Then you hav'nt washed your face and hands since leaving Doodlakine,
For which luxury you parted up the gentle one and nine ;
And you're bored to death by strangers, you met at Burracoppin,
Whose only jokes would seem to—"Straightwire" and "Ow 'yre popping."

When you lie about at night and try to get a peaceful doze
You're worried by the cribbage men, and their everlasting "goes"
With fifteen two, fifteen four, pairs are six, and one is seven,
You wish them at that heated place—antipodal to Heaven.

You're shocked to hear how fellows brag about their "tens" and "fivers"
And with the awful language used by Afghan camel drivers ;
But all the same you join the rest, with disgust you cannot cloak,
To drink that brackish slimy stuff, called water at Reen's' Soak.

And you loathe your rough companions, their ways, and all things such,
When they chaff about your eye glass, and ask if it hurts you much,
And vulgar men with each other bet ten to one in dollars
That if you live to reach the fields you'll knock 'em with those collars.

Then everybody gibes you, and they ask your views on crushing,
And say your coat is dusty, that your "chimney pot" wants brushing ;
Then they hope your silk umbrella, which you're guarding with great pains,
Is made to open, when next week, they will get the winter rains.

And they tell you that you're certain for to strike it very rich,
Though quartz from pebbles you are sure you cannot tell which from which,
They baptize you with a nickname, which sticks to you through and through,
A word you never heard before, and that word is "Jackeroo."

When at length you reach Coolgardie,then you wander thro' the town,
But cannot come across your pal, and you've spent your last half-crown ;
You fancy that your lot that day, is removed from envy far,
And like that comic song you feel, that "Yer dunno where 'e are"

Perth, 8th May,1894. Q.


From the Western Australian newspaper The Daily News 9 May 1894 p. 3.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory