SA – Adelaide – Croweaters



SOUTH AUSTRALIA (SA) – ADELAIDE – CROWEATERS

SOUTH AUSTRALIA – Land of Croweaters, Socialists, Thinkers,

Wheatlanders, Pie-eaters and Rabblerousers.  A miscellany.

South Australia had a very different childhood compared with the other Australian colonies. It was seen as a ‘pure’ settlement – mainly because it never accepted convicts. In some ways it was seen as a Utopian society for would-be idealists –  a place for writers, musicians, poets and painters. It was civilised and either solidly Christian or determinedly atheist.

The capital of the Colony of South Australia was named in honour of Queen Adelaide. Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline; born 1792 – died 1849) was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and of Hanover as spouse of William IV of the United Kingdom. Residents are often referred to as Adelaideans.

Early Adelaide was shaped by free settlement, religious freedom and a commitment to political progressivism and civil liberty, which contributed to its reputation as the “City of Churches”.  Adelaide does have its fair share of churches, possibly more obvious because of the grid system the city was built on. The later influx of German settlers, mostly strict Lutherans, also contributed to the State’s religious reputation. That said South Australia produced some of Australia’s most notable religious rebels and atheists. 

Emigration

There were many Guides to Emigrants published in the mid-nineteenth century. Most contained solid information and some were based on outrageous hearsay and poppycock. Sidney’s Guide was considered a reliable guide, especially for young women. (The Settler’s New Home, Or, Whether to Go, and Whither? being a Guide to Emigrants. Pub. J. Kedrick, 1850.)

There is an unlimited demand for wives of all ranks, from the shepherd to the gentleman squatter, with his 1,000 head of cattle, and 20,000 sheep. The Colonists, as a body, whether emigrants or native born, make good husbands, kind, indulgent, and generous. They are all rather rough in their language to each other, but no one ever heard of a Bushman beating his wife. In the towns there is as much gaiety as in England. Rather more.

The Bush huts have not generally been very comfortable: but there is no reason why they should not be as well built and furnished as in English farm houses. Young widows and orphans of small means will find themselves in reality much safer in an Australian town than in any of the great towns of Europe, better protected, and with better prospects. Of course some caution is necessary before accepting the first offers made, but there is very little difficulty in finding out an Australian settler’s character. There are obvious advantages in two or more ladies joining to make a party for the sea-voyage, besides reasons of economy. There can be no more impropriety in going to Australia than to India for the same purpose.

Adelaide is at present the best port for young ladies, as there is a committee of ladies there who receive and protect female emigrants. (Sidney’s Emigrant’s Journal, 1848)

For Governesses, there is a moderate demand. We should only recommend those to think of emigration who are not comfortable here. Every lady thinking of emigrating should know how to bake, boil, roast, wash, and iron, and then although she may not have to do these things, she will feel independent.

For Domestic and Farm-servants the demand is unlimited, and will so continue for many years, as a good sober cook, housemaid or nurse, is worth any wages, and may always have a house of her own within twelve months. A clever maid-servant is sure to better her position by emigrating to Australia, and will frequently save part of the passage-money by attending on one of the lady passengers.

Never stand out for high wages at first. Get a house over your head, and then change if you can for the better.

Country girls, Irish and others, not able to become domestic servants, would make excellent shepherdesses. All dry flocks, that is, not breeding ewes, will be- under the charge of women, whenever an equality of sexes has been produced by copious female emigration. (The Settler’s New Home, Or, Whether to Go, or Whither? Being a Guide to Emigrants. Pub. J. Kendrick. 1850)

The Colony of South Australia, often described in early reports as being ‘west of New South Wales’, staggered on. Sidney, writing in a later emigrant guide, commented that ‘It says much for the capabilities of this colony, that it has survived the grossest mismanagement; that its income exceeds its expenditure, and that it is the only self-funding colony connected with Great Britain.’

A later sarcastic scribe, commenting on criticism of the colony, observed lyrically (Some Early Recollections of South Australia. H. Ford 1895.

  ‘What a paradise he must have lived in before he came to deserted, God-forsaken South Australia, it must indeed have flowed with milk and honey, a land of Cockagne (very likely) where the ducks flew over ready-roasted though the air, and the houses were made of all kinds of sweetmeats, wine flowed like water, and discord had never existed.’

However NOTHING beats this advice.

THE AUSTRALIAN AT HOME: notes and anecdotes of life at the Antipodes, including useful hints for those intending to settle in Australia. By Edward Kingslake  1891  England.

My advice to people intending to settle in Australia, is similar to that of Mr Punch to those about to marry. Don’t.

As you will in all probability desire to shoot no one, except perhaps yourself, and it is always best to be without the means to do ill deeds, there is no necessity for you to procure a revolver.

If you have come to Australia to make a new home for yourself, don’t be everlastingly looking out for points on which to make unfavorable comparisons between it and England. Resolve to look at things in the best light. By cultivating this habit you will come to like the country and the country to like you.

Folklore dubbed South Australians as croweaters and pie eaters. Some say the ‘croweater’ tag came from the State’s heraldic emblem featuring a bird known as the Piping Shrike, a member of the magpie family. Truth is the nickname was around way before the 1904 emblem arrived.

The first print reference to croweaters appeared in the NSW newspaper, The Maitland Mercury, 19 Feb. 1874, however it reads as if the term was already well established in oral circulation. The origins of the colloquial expression became a topic that has fascinated the general public and produced several explanations.

1927. Most people can provide satisfactory explanations of how the term ‘Cornstalks’ (N.S.W.), ‘Sandgropers (W.A.), ‘Cabbage Gardeners’ (Vic) and ‘Kanakas’ Qlds), were first applied, but the term ‘Croweaters,’ as applied to South Australians, has puzzled many people.  However, ‘Clay Pan Joe,’ in The Murenison Times, supplies what is probably the correct solution. He writes: — ‘In regard to the term ‘crow-eaters, applied to South Australians, writers, in referring to the appellation, state their opinions as to how the term first came to be applied, but so far the reasons appear to be mere guesses. The following is the most feasible explanation, and is, I believe, the correct one:— In 1851 my father and uncle travelled overland to the Bendigo diggings.

On their arrival they were accosted with the words, ‘some crow-eaters.’ It appeared that a short time before they arrived, a party of South Australians had arrived in a very hard-up state, being without food and looking very much knocked up. While crossing the 90-mile desert they ran out of tucker, and were forced to shoot crows for food, as nothing better could be obtained. On relating their experiences, they were dubbed the ‘crow-eaters.’ The term was afterwards applied to every new arrival from the central State. 

(The Register (Adelaide) 15 March  1927. An article headed ‘Crow-eaters.’ origin of term) 1943. Speaking of Mr. Talbot Smith’s query about the origin of the term ‘croweaters’ for South Australians. A correspondent has made the following suggestion: —

In the late ‘nineties and early years of this century he employed the late Harry Hamp and his wife, and from him he got the following story of the origin of the term.  In the gold rush days Hamp was one of a party making for the Victorian diggings and one night they overtook a party of Cornish miners who invited them to share their meal of ‘rookie’ pasty. Deceived by the likeness of the crow to the rook of the old country, and remembering the rook pies they had eaten, they had shot a number of crows and made pasties of them.  The story was told at the digging and South Australians on the field were dubbed ‘croweaters.’ Harry Hamp arrived in South Australia in 1838 as a youngster in the Duke of Roxburgh. His father was killed by the blacks at Waterloo Bay a ghastly feature of the killing being the finding of his head in the camp oven in his hut.  (The Mail. Adelaide. 19 June 1943, article headed ‘Croweaters’ )

             

1945. A fortnight ago I discussed in this column the nicknames bestowed on residents of the various Australian colonies, by the people of the other Australian colonies, before we were joined together in an “indissoluble union.” If one may judge by the number of letters received the subject aroused considerable interest among Walrusites  One correspondent assures me that the term “crow-eater” as applied to South Australians was based on actual fact. He says that a during the disastrous seasons and low prices for wheat “sometime in the nineties” the farmers in the middle and upper north of South Australia were reduced to the extremity of killing and eating crows and very little else. Presumably the “very little else” included boiled wheat—that standby of the “poor cocky” in the days of his great adversity.

Another correspondent traces the evolution of “pommy” through various stages beginning with the introduction of considerable numbers of British migrants to the rural districts. He was then in the backblocks of Western Australia, and the newcomers were first spoken of as immigrants, and then, through the medium of rhyming slang which the Australian shares with the Cockney, this was converted into Jimmy Grants.  This, in turn became pommy grants, which may, he admits, though with some reserve, have been suggested by the resemblance 1 of their bright complexions to the pomegranate. In the country districts in those days he never once heard the abbreviated version “pommy”—that came later, and by then he had become an urban dweller.

Let “Period,” a gum-sucker, speak for herself because she speaks as one having the authority of first-hand knowledge:

Dear Walrus,–Concerning the nick-name “Gumsucker” for people born in Victoria – does it mean “simpleton or fool”? Not on your life. The name has only happy memories for me. Having lived as a child in different country districts where my father taught school I am certain that the gum referred to is wattle gum. And Victorians certainly did suck it.  Early settlers and their children, living far from sweet shops, were.; attracted by the clear amber blobs of gum on the young wattle trees long before chewing gum was in vented. As children we collected the sticky half-dried beads of gum and used them as jewellery on our dolls’ hats and frocks; sometimes even as decorations on our own pinafores. We dried small round drops and long clear trickles and sold them as lollies and barley sugar in our make believe shops. Dark brown issues from the joints of old trees were sold as toffee. And everyone sucked the gum.-“PERIOD”

Then there is this reminiscent letter from “Old Timer” ‘Wooroloo), who also may claim the authority that the Scriptures impliedly deny the “scribe”:

“Croweaters” got their name on the old Bendigo gold diggings in the early gold-rush. The South Australians, overlanding in bullock wagons, etc, from Adelaide, were very short of meat, so they shot the crows and ate them. Finding them very good eating they continued the practice on the field.  Crows ‘were plentiful and easy to get. My dad was among the crowd, and being a ‘crow’ or ‘white eye’ myself I have always carried this explanation in my memory.

“Re Sandgroper: The early-day teamsters (WA) consisted of farmers from York, Toodyay, Northam, Greenhills, etc. These were never known to carry a shovel, and. when the wheels of their wagons were bogged in the sand the teamster got on his knees and cleared away the sand with his hands. Hence the name ‘Sand groper’ which was given him by the ‘t’othersider.’

“Also ‘tinned dog’ derived its name from Conrad’s tinned meat, an Adelaide product. One day a teamster discovered a piece of skin with hair on, which had accidentally got into the tin, and that started the name ‘tinned dog’ – as he swore it was a piece of dog’s tail. From these humble origins the names spread and were soon adopted by most of the early-days goldfield residents. I know because I was through it all.  “Funniest thing of the lot to the goldfielder was that when the Kalgoorlie clock was erected the first thing the chimes said was ‘tin dog,’ repeating the sound four times before striking, and it is the same to this day.

“In regard to Bananalander, if my memory serves me right, the ‘Bulletin’ coined the word and always used it when referring to Queensland or the residents of that State. Also Maoriland for New Zealand. Anyhow… what’s in a name?”

“Old Timer” has dug from the recesses of his memory two other names, and adds the comment:  “perhaps these are better left out.”  I have never met them before and they look innocuous enough, but you never know. They might offend the delicate susceptibilities of Walrusites, so “perhaps they are better left out.”  

And here is a letter which tells another story – or rather a series of them: As a dyed-in-the-wool Gumsucker from the South Gippsland bush, I would like to say that a Gumsucker is not a person who sucks gum, but a gum ‘sapling’. Had you ever been privileged to visit or live in the gullies where they grow, you would appreciate the slender beauty of these suckers, straight and slim and clean, growing among their families, tap roots deep in the soil and heads held high, always ambitious to reach the sun and curious to have a look at what is “over the hill?” We don’t want to be cabbage gardeners! I enclose a copy of an anonymous scrap which rather nicely expresses the characteristics of the Gumsucker.

“The Cornstalks are also very self-expressive. But the Croweaters! I did hear that a man in SA who was very mean used to cook crows for anyone who visited him, so that they would not come again. This happened to a travelling Englishman, who thought it was the usual custom, so named the SA’s ‘Croweaters’. As you probably know ‘eating crow’ is a term sometimes used when a person makes wild accusations against other people and has to retract publicly, and comes out of it with complete loss of personal dignity.  I haven’t heard of SA doing that.  “It is a pity the Sandgropers did not wake up early enough to give themselves a better name.  There is so much that is distinctive and exclusive to Western Australia. But ‘who shall awaken a giant when he sleepeth’?”-  Yours eucalyptically,

PS.-A nasty little (brain) cell mate just jogged my elbow and muttered “A lot of people used to call the South Gippslanders “Mudpunchers.” How “mudist” we used to be!

(The West Australian – Perth, 24 Feb 1945. Under the pen name – ‘The Walrus’.)

This is the anonymous verse to which M.I.A. refers in her interesting letter:

In Gippsland’s forest glades, heads lifted high,

Victoria’s gums in pillared beauty stand

Cathedral columns, pointing to the sky,

All planted there by God’s almighty hand.

In splendid grandeur each majestic bole,  

From roots firm bedded in the clayey sod,

Grows straight, and clean, and true, as though its soul

Was reaching ever upward up to God.

Here are the Ancients of the yester-years,

But living still, this world of ours

A shelter for each sapling as it rears

Its leafy head to the ethereal space.

These Gumsuckers, the symbol of our land,

They too will grow to greatness, straight and true,

So may this people ever understand

The way to greatness, as these suckers do.

With this beautiful picture of the Gumsucker before us, we Sandgropers, Croweaters and Cornstalks may well join in the Lament:

Of all the sad words of tongue and pen,

The saddest are these: “It might have been”

South Australians were also known as Magpies and Wheatlanders. (The Australian Language. Sidney J. Baker. Sun Books.)

The former is related to their state emblem. The Wheatlander reference obviously relates to their expansive wheat stations and the fact that wheat contributed greatly to the colony’s success. Recently Adelaidiens have also been called pie eaters – this would relate to the above explanation of piping shirks used in colonial pies but it could also refer to the notorious pie floaters (meat pies covered in mushy peas) that have been sold in the city for over sixty years.

The Piping Shirk

The Piping Shrike has been the official badge of the South Australian Government since 1901. The state emblem generates pride and affection. Governor Tennyson in his dispatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies said ‘I herewith forward a flag with the new device upon it – the South Australian Shrike in the rising sun of the Commonwealth and hope that as it is a fine design and one which has been favorably received here.’

Old-time bushmen knew Adelaide as the City of 3 G’s – grog girls and grief.

So, how much South Australian folklore has been collected?

The answer is ‘a lot’ and ‘not so much’ – depending on what sort of folklore one means. The South Australian section of our national songbook of traditional song is very slim. WA  and the Northern Territory no fatter. This, of course, has a lot to do with the fact that the 1950s pioneer collectors were primarily from the eastern states. A. B. Paterson’s 1905 publication, Old Bush Songs, contains hardly any South Australian referenced songs.  Of course the old songs have no definite ‘home’ and the various collections are evidence that the songs, like the song carriers, certainly got around the country. The recent availability of digitally copied newspapers and magazines has brought several new song finds to the surface.

The late Russell Ward undertook some research into South Australian songs and published the following article in the Adelaide Advertiser.

Two Old South Australian Novels Provide  “Lost” Ballads Of The Bush.

By Russell Ward, (a graduate of the University of Adelaide, who is touring Australia on a scholarship

from the National University, Canberra, tracing little-known and “lost” folk-ballads)

“SOLID things do   not show the   complexion of the times so well as ballads,” wrote the learned and observant John Selden about 300 years ago. Today, when they hear the word folk-ballad, most Australians think of Robin Hood, of ancient forays on the Anglo-Scottish border, or perhaps of Sir. Patrick Spens and the “guid Scots lairds” who were so understandably reluctant “to wet their cork-heeled shoon.” Yet fifty years ago there was a distinctive school of balladry in our own country.  British traditional bal-lads usually tell of highly dramatic incidents—of battles, murders and family quarrels, or of men and maidens crossed in love.  Often they contain superb poetry.

In the Australian folksongs, except for the comparatively small number of bushranging ballads, deeds of violence are rare, and no one ever thinks of dying for love. The verse is often mere doggerel.

Nevertheless, it had for its singers the charm of the familiar, and now that about two-thirds of us are city-bred it is beginning to gather the romantic aura that goes with distance in space and time.

In 1906 Banjo Paterson gathered and published sixty or more of these anonymous songs from the western plains of New South Wales and Queensland. Per-haps as many more may be found in print in the files of the Sydney ‘Bulletin’ and elsewhere, but hundreds more were recorded only in fragments or not at all.

Occasionally one comes across an octogenarian bushman like Joe Cashmere, now of Sylvania, NSW, who remembers a complete ballad such as the following, which celebrates the old outback ritual of “blueing one’s cheque.” Its realistic description of a bush-worker’s life and its peculiarly Australian form of easy-going yet sardonic humour are typical of many:

“The truth is in my song so clear

Without a word of gammon:

The swagmen travel all the year

Waitin’ for the lambin’.

Home, sweet home:

That is what they left it for—      

Their home, sweet home.

Now when this dirty work is done,      

To the nearest shanty steering,      

They meet a friend, their money spend,

Then jog along till shearing

Now when the shearing season comes,

They hear the price that’s going:

New arrivals meet old chums.

Then they start their blowing

They say that they can shear each day

Their hundred pretty handy,

But eighty sheep is no child’s play

When the wool is dense and sandy.        

Now when the sheds have all cut out

They get their bit of paper;    

To the nearest pub they dash

And cut a dash and caper  

They call for liquor plenty,

And are happy while they’re drinking,

But where to go when their money’s done

It’s little they’d be thinking.      

Sick and sore next ‘morn they are,      

Of course, when they awaken.

To have a drink at once they must  

To keep their nerves from shakin’

They call for one and then for, two      

In a way that’s rather funny  

The landlord says, ‘Now, this won’t do ;

You men have got no money’  

They’re very sad next morning,      

And are lounging on the sofas:

For to finish off their spree

They’re ordered off as loafers

They’ve got no friends, their money’s gone,

And at there disappearing,

They give three cheers for the river’s bend

And jog along till shearing”

The men who sang such songs were the semi- nomadic bushworkers – shearers, stockmen, bullockies, rouseabouts and sundowners who sought work in the pastoral country west of the Great Dividing Range.

This, of course, includes much of South Australia outside the wheat-growing areas, and one of the most interesting sources of “lost” ballads is provided by two South Australian novels, now long out of print.    

Their author, J. H. Driscoll, was born In Adelaide in 1857. He was educated in England, but returned to Australia in 1874 and spent the next 10 years or so in droving, boundary-riding, and carrying his swag on the tracks between Port Augusta, Birdsville and the Victorian border. Then, in his middle age, he married and settled down in Port Augusta.

Under the pen-name of “Giles Seagram,” he wrote three novels of outback life, two of which were first published serially in the “Port Augusta Dispatch” about 60 years ago. “Jack Halliday, Stockman.”  “Bushmen All,” and “Lisa’s Love Story” are better novels than a great many  published since which have made more noise in the world. In addition, they have a particular interest for Australian ballad-hunters because some of the characters have the lucky habit of breaking into the first few bars of sundry bush-songs as they go about their work. The custom is also tantalising because the songs are never finished.   The result is about 10 fragments of songs, which were collected and published, in variant versions by Paterson and about the same number of fragments from other songs, the remainder of which were never collected and written down. But perhaps there are old bushmen, still living who remember some of the songs that Giles Seagram took to his grave with him.  

Patriotic South Australia.

The Song of Australia was the result of a competition sponsored by the Gawler Institute in 1859 to celebrate its second anniversary. There were 96 entries. The winner of the ten-guinea prize was Caroline J. Careleton who had arrived in the colony in 1839. For a long time many Australians, especially South Australians, believed the song should have been a contender for a national anthem.

Song of Australia

There is a land where summer skies

Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,

Blending in witching harmonies, in harmonies;

And grassy knoll, and forest height,

Are flushing in the rosy light,

And all above in azure bright –

Australia!

There is a land where honey flows,

Where laughing corn luxuriant grows,

Land of the myrtle and the rose,

On hill and plain the clust’ring vine,

Is gushing out with purple wine,

And cups are quaffed to thee and thine –

Australia!

There is a land where treasures shine

Deep in the dark unfathomed mine,

For worshippers at Mammon’s shrine,

Where gold lies hid, and rubies gleam,

And fabled wealth no more doth seem

The idle fancy of a dream –

Australia!

There is a land where homesteads peep

From sunny plain and woodland steep,

And love and joy bright vigils keep,

Where the glad voice of childish glee

Is mingling with the melody

For nature’s hidden minstrelsy –

Australia!

There is a land where, floating free,

From mountain top to girdling sea,

A proud flag waves exultingly,

And freedom’s sons the banner bear,

No shackled slave can breathe the air,

Fairest of Britain’s daughters fair –

Australia!

Wattle Day

In 1889 William Sowden, later to be knighted, an Adelaide journalist and Vice President of the Australian Natives Association in South Australia suggested the formation of a Wattle Blossom League. Its aims, set down in 1890, were to “promote a national patriotic sentiment among the woman of Australia”. One way of doing this was to wear sprigs of wattle on all official occasions. After an enthusiastic start the group folded. However, their presence inspired the formation of a Wattle Club in Melbourne. During the 1890s parties were led into the country on September 1 each year to view the wattles.

The concept of Wattle Day grew stronger and spread to NSW where the Director of the Botanic Gardens, J H Maiden called a public meeting on August 20, 1909 with the aim of forming a Wattle Day League. As a result of this meeting the first Wattle day was held on September 1, 1910 in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. On that day the Adelaide committee sent sprigs of Acacia pycnantha to the Governor of the state of South Australia. It was this wattle that became accepted as the official floral emblem.

Toast to Wattle.

The sweet Australian Wattle is the emblem of our land,

You can stick it in a bottle or wave it in your hand.

Wattle Ya’ ‘ave?

Wattle ya ‘ave? Cried the waiter,

Defiantly picking his nose.

Two hard-boiled eggs, ya bastard,

Ya can’t stick yer fingers in those!

Arbor Day

20 June – Arbor Day in Australia was first observed on 20 June 1889, in Adelaide, and was organised by Mr J. Ernie-Brown, the South Australian Woods and Forests Department’s first conservator.

Religion.

Another reason for South Australia’s claim to be the city of churches, although they don’t particularly believe in churches, is that it was in Adelaide that the Australian Salvation Army was established.

Sunday, September the fifth, 1880 when a young builder, John Gore, and his railway ganger mate, Edward Saunders ,set up a Salvationist’s Meeting in Adelaide’s Botanic Park. They sang hymns and preached the gospel.

General Booth, the Salvation Army’s founder, visited Adelaide (and toured Australia) arriving 8th May 1899.

The Songs.

Bound For South Australia.

The internationally recognised and oft-collected maritime halyard shanty ‘South Australia’ is the best known – and for most – the only song from the State.

Bound For South Australia

In South Australia, I was born

Heave away. Haul away!

South Australia round Cape Horn

And we’re bound for South Australia

Haul away you rolling king

Heave away! Haul away!

All the way you’ll hear me sing

And we’re bound for South Australia

As I walked out one morning fair

Heave away! Haul away!

It’s there I met Miss Nancy Blair

And we’re bound for South Australia

There ain’t but one thing that grieves my mind

Heave away! Haul away!

It’s to leave Miss Nancy Blair behind

And we’re bound for South Australia

I run her all night I run her all day

Heave away! Haul away!

Run her before we sailed away

And we’re bound for South Australia

I shook her up I shook her down

Heave away! Haul away!

I shook her round and round and round

And we’re bound for South Australia

And as you wallop round Cape Horn

Heave away! Haul away!

You’ll wish that you had never been born

And we’re bound for South Australia

I wish I was on Australia’s strand

Heave away! Haul away!

With a bottle of whiskey in my hand

And we’re bound for South Australia

In South Australia my native land

Heave away! Haul away!

Full of rocks, and fleas, and thieves, and sand

And we’re bound for South Australia

And here are the lyrics of the Capstan shanty version.

(solo)

Oh South Australia‘s my native home

(chorus)

Heave away! Heave away!

(solo)

Oh South Australia‘s my native home

(chorus)

We’re bound for South Australia.

Heave away, heave away

Oh heave away, you ruler king,

We’re bound for South Australia

(solo lines only)

I see my wife standing on the quay

The tears do start as she waves to me.

I’ll tell you the truth and I’ll tell you no lie;

If I don’t love that girl I hope I may die.

And now I’m bound for a foreign strand,

With a bottle of whisky in my hand.

I’ll drink a glass to the foreign shore

And one to the girl that I adore.

The first variant given here is a shanty, collected from sailors in Tyneside, northern England, and included in Laura Smith’s The Music of the Waters collection in 1888. Another version of it, labeled as a halyard shanty, is given in Manifold [1]

Manifold also gives a very different capstan shanty, much slower and with the lyrics given as the second variant. From Manifold, p26: “I am told that the crew of S.S. Flinders ‘sang the old tub to rest’ with this beautiful tune, on her last voyage in 1923 to ship breakers’. It is quite likely Manifold did this setting rather than collect it as stated.

Surprisingly, the song does not appear in the most significant Australian shanty collection –  taken down from George Patterson and Malcolm Forbes, both of Kangaroo Island, in 1923.

For an extensive collection of sea shanties collected in South Australia visit the Clive Carey Collection at this website.

Pounds, Shillings, and Pence.

(A South Australian ballad).  (South Australian Register 26 Jan. 1855.)

What a glow of true joy is diffused through my soul,

When you tickle my palms, as you’re ‘posting the cole”’

For show me the man who, on nay pretence,

Has the smallest dislike to pounds, shillings and pence. ?

Pounds, shillings, and pence ! How ecstatic the sound,

When in pockets well filled, we the pieces turn round.

If learning can give so much pleasure to sense,

We’ll have twice the delight from pounds, shillings and pence.  

Let Learning go hang! Education go sink !

All the learning we want is to grapple ‘the chink.’

Be our brains or our faculties ever so dense,

We’re at all times awake to pounds, shillings and pence,

Ah, remember the joy, as remember we must.

When a friend in our favour ‘comes down with the dust’

We make no enquiry, we ask not from whence,    

Comes the blessed display of pounds, shillings, and pence. ?          

The pleasures of life are all destined to vanish  

Except that best pleasure of ‘flashing the Spanish’.’

That’s an exquisite feeling, as who can dare doubt,

To draw in the rhino which others ‘shell out‘    

Of what slights, and what snubs, would I not bear the brunt,

Prom a paymaster’s tongue, while he ‘forks out the blunt,’

Resolved no rebuffs, no denials, no fibs,

Shall prevent my success in extracting ‘ the dibs.’    

How I dote on the charms of a woman that’s rich !

And don’t I soon show that I treat her as sich.          

For surely there cannot be cause of offence,    

In a fair one who’s bless’d with pounds, shillings, and pence.

Enchanting indeed is the page that we see,    

Where prefix’d to our credit stands dear l. s. d.,  

Tis a page of true learning, devoid of pretence,

An abridgement, how sweet, of pounds, shillings, and pence.

Tis so good to have cash, that we always feel grumpy.

When preparing to part with a lot of our stumpy;

And I cannot conceive a more mischievous sin

Than a pressing request to come ‘down with the tin.’

To conclude— let us banish all scruples and qualms,

In our ardent pursuit of the ‘Ointment of Palms.’

Convinced that to scrape up pounds, shillings, and pence,

Is the first moral duty of people of sense.

T.W.  

And who could resist a song where squattery rhymes with lottery.

The Lottery.

(A New Comic Song.)  (Bells Life in Sydney & Sporting Reviewer. Jan 1849)

Where’er we go, from North to South,

In City, Town, or Squattery,

The talk in everybody’s mouth

ls all about the Lottery !

But much I fear that many rue

The cash they chanced abortively,

And wish they’d found aught else to do

With the tin they’ve lost thus sportively !

Bow wow wow-bow wow wow, fol.

Lol de rlddy iddy-bow wow wow !

I met a friend a week ago,

Who hung his head most downfully,  

And seemed so werry full of woe

I could but ask the reason why:

“ Alas !” he cried-“ I’ve gained a loss,

And dare not face my missus’ squall

Eight pounds I paid – but Fortune’s cross,

This deuced Lottery marred it all.”

I hoped to gain a grand estate

Or riches, pleasure tasting, oh

But, ‘drat my most unlucky fate

1 won two lots at Hastings, oh

Lord sent I’d got my blunt once back

I’d melt it in a Pottery.

Or keep it snug within my sack,

May the devil take the Lottery !

Some hundreds more are in like case,

With Tempe’s town and Battersea,

And Fitzroy too, in every place

You may a deuced clatter see

One swears it is a scheming job  

‘Twixt Messieurs Wells and Grocott, sirs!  

Another damns his stupid nob.  

Swears in the fire he’ll poke it, sirs.

But all that I have got to say

To these unlucky dreamers now

If they will throw their cash away

They’ll find no want of schemers now.

This first partition did so well- ,

Turned in the cash so handy, oh

That anyone with land to sell

Will find this plan the dandy, oh.

The Burra mine was world famous for the richness of its copper ores and for the first ten years of its life was the largest mine in Australia.  Wealth from the mine made fortunes for many of its original shareholders and its discovery marked the beginning of a period of unprecedented growth and prosperity for South Australia.

The story of the mine began in 1845 with the chance discovery of copper ore by a shepherd near Burra Creek.  Soon after, a similar find was made by another shepherd further to the north

The Burra Burra Mine

New Song to an Old Tune.) 

South Australian Register.  Oct. 1848

I’ll sing you a new song made by a youthful pate,

Of the Burra Burra Shareholders who had a fine estate,

Which to them came by luck, not aim, most wondrous to relate;

And little men unknown till then right suddenly grew great  

As Burra Burra shareholders, lords of the Monster Mine.

Their land was strewn with heaps of grass, of red, and green, and blue,  

With Malachites, and carbonated, and oxides of each hue;

And underground the workings round were marvellous to view.

And many were the labourers and the dividends weren’t few.

Of these Burra Burra shareholders, lords of the Monster Mine.

When summer suns brought heat and dust, ‘twould fill you with amaze,

To see the road for many a mile all cover’d o’er with drays,

And the drivers whilst they curse the weighing don’t forsake the ways.

But each day as they take their pay they damn the man wot pays.

For these Burra Burra shareholders, lords of the Monster Mine.

And houses rose in streets and rows, where the desert spread before.

And there were seen a goodly inn and many a well-filled store.

Where throng’d the workmen and their wives when the day’s work was o’er,  

And while around them all grew rich they flourish’d more and more,

Did these Burra Burra shareholders, lords of the Monster Mine.  

But fortune’s hill is slippery still, and climbers often fall;

And ‘there’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip,’ is a proverb known to all;

And to kill the goose for the golden eggs in policy is small.

All these in turn may chance to learn when for dividends they call,

These Burra Burra shareholders, lords of the Monster Mine.  

The manager his stumps must stir because he don’t assay;  

And lest the workmen grow too rich they milk them of their pay:

And some in rage and some in grief their faces turn away;

And the works deserted grow, and the ore lessens day by day, –

Of these Burra Burra shareholders, lords of the Monster Mine.

Now surely it were wiser wit some little loss to bear?

To let tho men their wealth who gain of their profits have some snare; .

For greed as yet did never get ought worthy to compare

With what would be the fitting meed if liberal and fair  

Of these Burra Barra shareholders, lords of the Monster Mine.

Lola Montez

The visit of entertainer and exotic dancer Lola Montez shocked many Australians. It also prompted a few songs and ditties to document her visit. This song, based on an English folk song, sums up the mood very well.

In June 1855, Montez departed for a tour of Australia to resume her career by entertaining miners at the gold diggings during the gold-rush of the 1850s, arriving at Sydney on 16 August 1855.

In September 1855 she performed her erotic Spider Dance at the Theatre Royal in Melbourne, raising her skirts so high that the audience could see she wore no underclothing at all” (actually a salacious and unfounded rumour). Next day the Argus thundered that her performance was ‘utterly subversive to all ideas of public morality'”. Respectable families ceased to attend the theatre, which began to show heavy losses.”  At Castlemaine in April 1856, she was “rapturously encored” after her Spider Dance in front of 400 diggers (including members of the Municipal Council who had adjourned their meeting early to attend the performance), but drew the wrath of the audience by insulting them following some mild heckling.

She earned further notoriety in Ballarat when, after reading a bad review in The Ballarat Times, she attacked the editor, Henry Seekamp with a whip. The “Lola Montes Polka” composed by Albert Denning was later rumoured to have been inspired by this event, but as the song was published in 1855 and the incident with Seekamp occurred months later in February 1856, this is scarcely probable. She departed for San Francisco on 22 May 1856, having had her fill of Australia.

The following song, like many of the stage and songbook songs of the period, is written and sung in a fake Cockney/Yiddish style where whispered becomes vispered. It takes some getting used to but eventually it makes sense.

Lola Montez Song – All Around My Hat

(A new version of an old song – All Around My Hat)

( Sung by Mr Bum Brown, and dedicated to the Hon. the High Sheriff of NSW)  

Bells Life. 22 Sept.  1855.

 

All round my hat I vears a green villow

All round my hat – the nobbiest style in town,

And if any von should ax the reason vy I vears it,

Tell ‘em ‘cos that artful Lola Montez did me brown!

‘Twas ‘a going of my rounds” in the street  I first did meet her,

Ohl I thought she was a hangel just dropt down from the sky.

And I never heard a woice more louder and more sweeter,

Nor never seed in all my life – good gracious – sich an eye!

All round. &c.

Oh Lola she vos fair, and Lola she vos kind too,

But cruel vos the company she brought with her to “ star”.

And to put up vith all their bounce she didn’t feel inclined to.

So took her passage in the Melbourne steamer “ Varatuh”.

All round my hat, &c.

I tried all I know’d as in duty bound, to stop her,

And vent on board the steamer vith a half a dozen rits,

But Lola quite perlitely said she’d never pay a copper,

And gave me sich a killing look as fairly turned my vits.

All round my hat, &c.

Oh! I showed to her the rings as is hon my little fingers,

And I showed to her the eye-glass viech I years to come it grand,

And I vispered in her hear as she vos loveliest of singers.

Disclosed my long attachment, and then hoffered her my hand.

All round my hat, &c.

Says’Lola, “Mr Brown I never will deceive you,

Nor man nor woman ever yet did Lola Montez stop,

Pray take a friendly hint, for I wish not to aggrieve you

If not off at once, you’ll overboard be bundled neck and crop”.

All round my hat, &c.

Now vot vos I to do – I saw as how she meant it  

For mischief vos a twinkling in her eye as I got down.

So I said as how I hoped she never vould repent it,  

And pulled away for Sydney, uncommonly DONE BROWN!

All round my hat, &c.

The Song of the New Chum.

(Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, 23 Sept 1885)

On the wide rolling downs of Australia

The beautiful land of the South,

Where the sun shines with brightest effulgence

Far away from the home of my youth.

Where the silver-green brigalows waveth

Its leaves o’er forest and plain,

And the gum-tree its foliage showeth

On many a high mountain chain.

Young Queensland has hope for the willing

For the honest, industrious, and wise,

And if they press steadily forward

Perseverance will soon make them rise.

To the Craven she gives little favour

No wealth has she for the sob,

But the brave has reward for his labour

And success will brighten his lot.

Then fear not my brethren and comrades

Tho’ England may far away seem,

Old relations in thought are still with us

And we meet them wherever we dream.

Australia has taken her station

Her greatness no man can for-see.

But may Providence shower its blessings

On you, my children and me.

Bushrangers

South Australia did not have a bushranging history however, it being close to Victoria and New South Wales, encouraged a certain paranoia about the possibilities of the bushrangers, especially the Kelly Gang, being active in the colony. The following appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser in 1905

The Kelly Gang.

A Salvation Army Confession. 

Adelaide Advertiser, 20 Nov. 1905

A man who gives his name as James Skillion, and who claim to have been connected with the Kelly gang in Victoria 27 year’s ago gave some of his experiences at a meeting of the Lithgow branch of the Salvation Army a few nights ago. He stated that his brother, William Skillion, had married Maggie Kelly, the eldest sister of Ned, and also that he (James Skillion) had in many ways proved useful to the gang. He said that the Kelly gang sprang into being when certain mounted constables went to Mrs. Kelly’s to arrest her son Dan, who was away at the time, on a charge of horse-stealing.

A constable, said Skillion, attempted familiarity with Kate Kelly, but Mrs.

Kelly, William Skillion, and a man named Williamson handled the policeman very roughly. On the day following several constables from Benalla arrested Mrs.

Kelly, William Skillion, and Williamson on a charge of assaulting the constable. The two men got six years, and Mrs. Kelly got three years. Ned and Dan Kelly came home and found their mother had been arrested, and Ned made, the remark, “We will give the police something to do.” Skillion told the Lithgow audience that in his capacity as telegraph for the gang he assumed various disguises, sometimes carrying a swag, at other times wearing a belltopper, and sometimes dressing in Kate Kelly’s clothes. Skillion talked freely of his escapades’, ‘ and showed the mark of a bullet wound in the fleshy part

of his leg. He stated that after the bank at Euroa was stuck up and robbed, the proceeds were shared among about 100 sympathisers. He added that from the

proceeds of robberies he received £3,000 and spent it in travelling through America and Great Britain with Kate Kelly and Kate Byrnes, Joe Byrne’s sister.

Skillion is now a member of the local branch of the Salvation Army, and is working in one of the local industries. He speaks freely of his connection with the gang, and except that for some reason he declines to give the name of the man who made Ned Kelly’s armor, he is willing to give all other particulars, including dates and places.

The Story of the Kelly Gang – Advertisement 

Adelaide Advertiser, 25 Dec 1906

At the Adelaide Tivoli Hall to-night Messrs. J. & N. Tait announce a special

Programme of moving pictures and a number of songs by Miss Jessie Galbraith and Mr. J. Christie. The Story of the Kelly Gang picture will be presented for the first time in Australia tomorrow night. Tickets for all parts may be secured at Duhst and Biven’s.

The first matinee will be given on Proclamation Day.

STORY OF THE KELLY GANG. 

Adelaide Advertiser 1889, referenced Tivoli Theatre

There was » crowded audience at the Town Hall cm Saturday night, when a number of bioscope pictures were shown, including the story of the Kelly Gang; and, judging by the enthusiasm of the audience, those present were well pleased with the bill of fare. The entertainment was under the direction of Messrs. J. & N. Tait.

The Trial of Ned Kelly.

[By Telegraph from Greville’s Telegram Co.] 

Maitland Mercury, 20 Oct 1880

Monday, received 7.40 p.m.

The outlaw, Ned Kelly, was charged at the Criminal Court, Melbourne, this morning, with the murder of Constables Lonergan and Scanlon. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. Mr, Bindon, on behalf of Mr. Molesworth, who was unavoidably absent, renewed the application for a postponement, on the ground that the prisoner had not been afforded a chance of preparing his defense.  The Crown said there was not the slightest ground for the application, but being anxious that the prisoner should not have it in his power hereafter to allege the slightest harshness or improper proceeding, would consent to an adjournment.

Judge Barry said the attitude of the Crown was most becoming, and Kelly was remanded until the 28th inst.

There was an immense crowd around the court. 120 jurymen were present. Mrs. Skillian and Tom Lloyd were allowed inside the court, The Hon. Robert Wisdom, Attorney-General of New South Wales, and Mr. Charles Cowper, sheriff, were given seats on the bench. Kelly, before leaving the gaol, asked for a better coat to appear before Mr. Justice Barry in, as his own was the worse for wear. William Gaunson lent him his overcoat. Kelly walked without the slightest limp, and appeared in excellent health, and his demeanour was quiet.

The following two ditties, from the South Australian Register.

Kelly Is A Bushranger.

A New Song To An Old Setting  

South Australian Register Feb. 1879

Kelly is a bushranger,

Kelly is a thief;

Kelly came to our town,

His stay was very brief.

The police went to Kelly’s place,

Kelly them had sold;

‘ Kelly came to our Bank,

And stole a sack of gold.

A Valentine

(From the Goddess Justice to the Victorian Bushrangers) 

South Australian Register Feb. 1879

Oh, long-sought Ned, my dearest Ned,

I daily do the best I can ?

To find you living or find you dead,

Or riding beside your brother Dan.

My long-sought Ned, why shun me so ?

My arms to welcome you warmly wait ;

I will follow your feet where’er you go,

And hold you safely soon or late.

I will follow your feet and track you fast,

For my love for you never fades or changes,

And be sure I will clasp you tight at last

In your haunt in the grim Strathbogie Ranges.

Then hurry not, hurry not, gentle Ned,

The way grows weary, the search grows Iong,

Shall we never meet till I see you dead ?

Oh! come to my arms so warm and strong.

The following item is a rarity known as a stump speech. It is even rarer to find a printed version of this nonsensical genre of old time entertainment. These rambling mock speeches, with complete abuse of the English language, were a popular entertainment in the nineteenth century and I collected two from Joe Watson. See Australian Folklore Unit,/Joe Watson for the transcriptions. This one was dated 1914 and is modelled on a quack medicine showman’s spiel.

Political Songs

STUMP SPEECH.  

Adelaide Advertiser, 13 Jan 1914.

Ladies and Fellowmen. Before I say anything to you this evening I desire to make a few remarks. You are all aware – I say, you are all aware that several great questions are now agitating at this moment – the whole of the social and political basis of the civilised unicorn. There is the temperance question, the Eastern question, the Home Rule Question, the agricultural question, and several other kinds of pickled salmon.

When we look at the temperance question from a scientific and concologital point of view, what do we see? On the other hand, what do we not see? On the third hand, what do we see not when we see what we do not see. You naturally ask me what can be worse than a drunken man? I reply, two drunken men. But is that any reason – I say, is that any reason why a Home Ruler should bully the Lord Chancellor of the Exchequer because he feels he is the bigger man? No, and depend upon it, I say, depend upon it, that, whether my ointment does or does not cure all diseases, the Premier will  always be prejudiced against frozen mutton!  As I have said from the first, why should Turkey go to war? On the other hand, why should we go to war? Look what effect the late war has had upon commerce; look at the price of Turkey rhubarb and my patent Heal-all.

We now come to a very particular branch of my lecture. What is alcohol? Is it a fish or a fowling-piece? Is it a compound or a Parr’s Life pill? Is it a liquid, a solid, or does it partake of any other description of fried fish? When we look around for a moment upon the vast thusness of  the mighty thiogumy. and reflect for but  a century on the suchness of the great-  the great what-you-may-call-it, it is then,  I say-yes, it is then, 1 say, that mackerel is ten a shilling and the working man obtains his food by the sweatstuff of his eye-brows.

Having said this much and no mucher, to explain to you the purpose of my lecture I will now proceed to show you that my Cure-all is the best, and cannot be beaten for ills, pains, corns, warts, or bunions.  No matter whether we rusticate in the humble cottage or revel in the savoury saveloy-above all, encircling all, and surrounding which there still remains – I say, there still remains that Know-alls Cure-all and Heal-all stands alone as the pre-eminence of medicines!  Do we find alcohol in beer? If so, how much does it eat? When you have tried my Cure-all pills you will not only start on a good fat chicken, but you will eat the bones as well – it will make you bona-fide.  The land that we stand on, brethren, is the land that you must keep your optics on. When the land is taken from you where will you be? That is the question -where will you be? Science teaches us more or less, but especially less, that the more you understand most things the less you know about the other fellows. Science is so profound, so confisticated, so obscurated, and so removed from a common-place or commonsensiviness that a scientiricated man like myself is bound to admit that there are particles which oscillate from concrete bodies; and by coagulation gravitate to the moat common aliment , which points to my medicines being superior to any other! I have here o testimonial from a servant who tried my Heal-all ointment for chapped hands, and her eyesight has improved wonderfully.  My Cure-all pills will stand the test of time, and I have no hesitation in saying that once tried we shall “be chums” for evermore. You have often heard the saying that birds of a similar plumage gregariously assemble; but, my dear friends, those of you who assemble here will only do well if you will take my advice and take my Cure-all pills. Don’t stand like 1 o’clock half struck, but say how many boxes, and I will supply you. You will never regret ii.

Songs with political comment, usually satirical, have a long history of popularity, and South Australia, being a hot-bed of both radical and conservative thought – appears to have its fair share. The following song dates back to 1879 and was published in an Adelaide based national publication, The Lantern. It mentions several of the leading local city councillors embroiled in the debate over the introduction of street lighting.

THE KEROSENE CAPER

(The tune is given (appropriately) as ‘Guy Fawkes’ however it is also known as ‘Bow Wow Wow’) 

The Lantern, Adelaide, January, 1879.

I’ll sing a doleful yarn, my boys, of Sam, the Hebrew sinister,

Who managed once to Adelaide a fell blow to administer;

For tired of his incessant jaw – this rowdy flame to spoil, sirs,

The Council put the set on gas, and lit the town with oil, sirs.

Chorus

Bow, wow, wow,

the fearful things caused by this change,

I’ll tell just now.

The very night the kerosene was first bought into action.

Old Paddy Coglin, in Light-square, paraded all his faction;

At Boddington he loudly railed, swore nothing would delight him,

In honour of the shamrock, than the pleasure just to fight him.

In front of Read’s Imperial the Dean was dancing,

While opposite, old Tomkey in a highland reel was prancing;

Upon the curb Noltenius and Trew, in Sunday clothes, sirs,

For drinks all round were shaping for the first hit on the nose , sirs.

Bold Peterswald and Beddome, all position from them pinching,

In bobbies rig, in search of cooks, sneaked down North-terrace kitchen;

The head of the Good Templar crowd, half-tight, did Blackler knock-up;

And David Blair, disguised in rum, they ran into the lock-up.

As dark as pitch each street appeared, save where each pub was lit up,

For half the kerosene required they hadn’t tried to fit up.

Can any dodge like this be shown more foolish or absurder,

To hold a premium to thieves, to outrage, and to murder?

Percy Brookfield

Students of Australia’s labour history should recognise Percy Brookfield’s name. Many remember him as the politician who, in 1920, refused an invitation to dine with the Prince of Wales because he felt it obscene to eat a celebratory feast when thousands were on the breadline. Brookfield was Australia’s first openly declared communist to be elected to government.

Brookfield campaigned vigorously for a Royal Commission into the trial and imprisonment of the IWW Twelve – Wobbly officials who had been arrested on various charges of treason, arson and seditious conduct.  He agreed to support the Labor Party if a Royal Commission were set up.  As a result of this second inquiry, ten of the prisoners were immediately released and the remainder discharged some months later.

Brookfield, as vice-president of the underground section of the Amalgamated Miners Association, had joined with Considine, Kerr, Barnett and O’Reilley in 1916 in the bitter campaign to secure a reduction in working hours.  He is also credited with having used his political ‘balance of power’ in 1920 to obtain an improvement in the original recommendations made by Mr Justice Edmunds.  But even his most devoted followers were puzzled at his obsession with causes which had little bearing on local needs.  Brookfield helped organise a demonstration in Sydney over an Australian, Paul Freeman, who, for political reasons was refused re-entry into Australia; police were called to disperse the crowd of 15, 000.

He had a distinguished career cut short. At around 8 am, on 22 March 1921, the Adelaide-bound steam train from Broken Hill pulled into the township of Riverton, 60 miles north of Adelaide, for the customary stop for a Railway Refreshment Room breakfast. On board was Percy Brookfield, returning to Sydney, after visiting his Broken Hill constituents.

As the travellers began to straggle back along the station platform, a few minutes before the train was due to resume its journey, a Russian named Koorman Tomayoff suddenly opened fire with a revolver, injuring four of the passengers.

Brookfield’s natural courage promptly asserted itself. He ran forward to disarm the gunman, who fired two bullets at close range, wounding Brookfield in the chest and abdomen. He later died from the injuries. Tomayoff was declared insane and died in the Adelaide Asylum in 1948.

Percy Brookfield  

Collected by Warren Fahey from Harry Chaplin, Broken Hill, 1974.

From North, South, East and Westward

He was loved by all who slave

And to save the lives of others

His noble life he gave

He did not want the asking

He was ready for the fray

And won a name in history

On that immortal day

Australia, Australia,

The loss of Brookfield may you mourn

He faced the gun, our noble son,

And from our ranks he’s gone

He loved his fellow workers

And for them his life he gave

And now he’s sleeping peacefully

In a heroes grave

The train was late that morning

To Adelaide on its way,

When a man ran amok at Riverton

And held the crowd at bay.

Percy Broomfield in a moment

Said “Something must be done.”

And bravely rushed the murderer

And tried to seize his gun.

The first part of the 20th century saw Adelaide as a hotbed of anarchy. It was where several socialist organisations were situated including the International Labour Party (not to be confused with the Industrial Labour Party).

The International Labour Party published their songbook in Adelaide, 1915 – SONGS OF THE I.L.P. One of the songs was ‘Bump Me Into Parliament’. Written by Bill Casey, of the One Big Union League, Melbourne, this is one of the most popular songs from that period. Casey was a prolific songwriter and this version, probably the first printed version, has additional verses to the usual published versions. For other songs in the songbook, including more of Casey’s, see www.warrenfahey.com/labour3.htm

For a recorded version see ‘Australia: Its Folksongs & Bush Verse’, ABC Music and available on iTunes (Warren Fahey)

Bump Me Into Parliament

TUNE: Yankee Doodle   

Songs of the I.L.P. Published Adelaide. 1915

Come listen, all kind friends of mine,

I want to move a motion,

To make an Eldorado here,

I’ve got a bonzer notion.

Chorus:

Bump me into Parliament,

Bounce me any wa—y.

Bang me into Parliament,

On next election day.

Some very wealthy friends I know

Declare I am most clever,

While some may talk tor an hour or so,

Why, I can talk for ever.

So bump, etc.

I’ know the Arbitration Act

As a sailor does his “rigglns,”

So if you want a small advance

I’ll talk to Justice Higgins.

So bump, etc.

Oh, yea, I am a Labour man

And believe in revolution;

The quickest way to bring them on;

Is talking constitution.

So bump etc.

I have been asked what would I do

If e’er the Germans came here,

A regulation I would make

To say they shan’t remain here.

So bump. etc.

I’ve read my library ten times through,

And Wisdom justifies me.

The man who does not vote for me,

By Cripes he crucifies me.

So Bump ’em into Parliament,

Bounce ’em any way;

Bang ’em into Parliament,

Don’t let the Court decay.

The International Labour Party was a socialist group that came out of the International Workers of The World. There was a very active Australian IWW movement and many members drifted into the ILP which had essentially the same platform based on ‘one big union’

The I.L.P. newspaper was INDUSTRIAL SOLIDARITY  was published in Adelaide)

The newspaper devoted considerable space to the ‘IWW Twelve’ and was edited by Monty Miller. He was possibly also the author of parodies publishes in the newspaper. Some years later, celebrating Monty’s 86th birthday, he was described as being ‘The greatest working class rebel in Australia.’

The following song about the IWW Twelve also appeared in the songbook.

Help The Jailed

(Tune: Wrap Me Up In My Stock Whip and Blanket)

At this hour when the plutes are dictators,

Controlling Industrial life,

To jail go the best agitators,

Leaving helpless their children-wife.

So make it a ‘ding-dong’ collection,

We’ll send a fat cheque by next mail,

To help their helpless dependents,

And comrades who languish in jail.

To speak out your mind is conspiring.

These plutes you must never defy,

If they haven’t a law, that will jail you,

A bribe may be paid tor a lie.

Then come, let us solemnly pledge, boys,

Agitation we never shall cease,

Until the whole twelve unconditioned,

Our masters in terror release.

Unrelenting we’ll keep agitating,

Till the cold dismal cells shall confine

The tyrants who jailed the brave battlers

For the cause that is your’s and mine

ONE BIG INDUSTRIAL UNION

(AIR: Marching Through Georgia) 

By G. Allen, Songs of the I.L.P. published Adelaide c. 1915.

 

The good old red book, boys, we’ll sing another song.

Sing it to the wage slave who has not yet joined the throng,”

Of the revolution that will sweep the world along,

To One Big Industrial Union.

Hooray! Hooray! The truth will make you free.

Hooray! Hooray! When will you workers see?

The only way you’ll gain your economic liberty,

Is One Big Industrial Union.

Now the harvest String Trust they would move to Germany,

The Silk Bosses of Paterson, they also want to flee

From strikes and labour troubles, but “they cannot get away From One Big Industrial Union.

You migratory workers of the common labour clan,

We sing to you to join and be a fighting Union man;

You must emancipate yourself, you proletarian,

With – One Big Industrial Union.

CHORUS:

Hooray! Hooray! Let’s set the wage slave free.

Hooray! Hooray! With every victory,

We’ll hum the workers’ anthem till you finally must be

In One Big Industrial Union

Song about an early South Australian politician and relative of the song’s contributor, Sister Mary McLaughlin.

Here’s To O’Loughlin   

Collected by Warren Fahey from Sister Mary (O’Loughlin) AFU Corro file 1972.

O’Loughlin is a citizen of credit and renown

A northern farmer too is he, two hundred miles from town,

‘Tis very many years ago since he went up north,

To kangaroo and emu, to unfenced lands and droughts.

He ploughed the grounds with bullocks, and single furrow plough,

No drills or ploughs with seats on, as we are using now.

He boiled his billy by the fire, baked damper on the coals,

He rolled him in his bluey, when nights were bitter cold

He had no wife to cheer him, to darn his socks or scold,

To wash or mend his trousers, when they were getting old.

And when his wheat was garnered, and ready for the mill,

He had fifty miles to cart it, over heavy road and hill.

Twas “gee off Dobbin, come ‘ere Redney.”, loud his whip would crack,

As he rolled his heavy wagon, along the dusty track

As he battled bravely through it, with his hard and honest hands,

Till he gained a seat in parliament, as Commissioner of Crown lands

Then let us sing, “Long live the King, and O’Loughlin, long live him,

And when his work on earth is done, his rest in Heaven be.

Billy Barlow In South Australia. 

The theatrical character ‘Billy Barlow’ first appeared in Australia in 1843 and was closely associated with the actor and theatrical entrepreneur George Coppin, who is also often referred to as the ‘father of Australian theatre’. Billy Barlow always appeared in a top hat, one boot and one shoe and usually proclaimed his sad state of affair. He was very prone to political satire, especially on a local government level. Coppin spent some years as an elected member to the Victorian Parliament and eventually relocated to Adelaide and although this song is not attributed to him it certainly smacks of his work and, as we know from his story, he was living in Adelaide that year.

In 1846 he he converted the Adelaide billiard room of the Temple Tavern in Gilles Arcade into the New Queen’s Theatre. This lost so much money that he was forced to try his luck on the goldfields, where he provided lurid dramas to entertain the diggers. For a while he ran a theatre in Geelong. In 1850 he returned to Adelaide, transforming the old Queen’s Theatre in Gilles Arcade into the Royal Victoria; it remained Adelaide’s principal playhouse until 1868.

A complete history of ‘Billy Barlow’ appears as a free e-book on this site.

The following ‘Billy Barlow’ song, true to the original form, addresses various individuals who probably belonged to a Masonic Order of some sort. The Masons were particularly strong in South Australia.

The South Australian Advertiser. 4 July 1863

A correspondent sends us the following:—”The first anniversary of the Court Theatre at Tea Tree Gully was celebrated by a dinner, which took place on Thursday at the Highercombe Hotel The D.C.R., Brother Worship, of the Globe Inn, occupied the chair and the C.R. of the Court took the vice-chair. The attendance was not so large as was anticipated, but the productions of the poultry yard, stye, and the kitchen garden, were profusely scattered over the table, in Host Haines’s usual style, and received due attention from the company. The usual loyal toasts were followed by those having immediate connection with the Order, and the Chairman showed a great deal of tact in keeping the hilarity and good humor of the brothers quite up to concert pitch. Several good songs were interspersed during the evening-, and among others the following stanzas of a new edition of” Billy Barlow,” sung by one of the brothers of the Court, and which, as there is no Parliament sitting just now, may, perhaps, be favored, with a corner:—

Gentlemen all, pray how do you do?

It’s the very first time that I’ve sang before you.

If the Doctor was here, he’d say, ” How you know ”

I don’t allow singing from William Barlow.

Oh dear, raggedy oh!

That Doctor’s a limb to poor Billy Barlow.

Perhaps you have heard that a wedding took place—

Our Prince with a lady of old Danish race.

Folks stared when they met, for instead of a bow,

He kissed her right off before Billy Barlow.

Oh dear, raggedy oh!

It made your mouth water, Sir William Barlow.

You Government officers pray don’t mistake.

Nor of your superiors precedence take—

Ere you dress for levees, first to Ross you must go,  

And if he’s at fault come to William Barlow.

Oh dear, raggedy oh !

He can’t make a suit to suit Billy Barlow.

To the House of Assembly I went t’other day  

To hear what our delegate folks had to say

My breeches and coat, as the Treasurer did show.  

Wouldn’t cost one more penny to Billy Barlow.

Oh dear, raggedy-o

And clap slued. Mr. William Barlow.

And blythly he strutted, but looked himself o’er

When the Melbourne folks voted that tariff a bore,

And said now we must have ad valorem, although

It cost more for trousers for William Barlow.

Oh dear, raggedy oh !

Have yon got an old pair to give Billy Barlow.

But Treasurers, alas! you will find are but frail, ?

And Dutton has hit on the head the right nail.

No confidence he’ll on the Ministry bestow,

Or budge on the Budget, for William Barlow.

Oh dear, raggedy oh!

It’s a queer Opposition to Billy Barlow.

Forestry now must be in the ascent.

As I’ll prove to the most fastidious gent,

Our District Chief Banker as all of you know

Is lord of the ” Globe,” and of Billy Barlow

Oh dear, raggedy oh  

Worse-nop’s is the best house for William Barlow.

There were three ‘Billy Barlow’ songs recorded from South Australia, including the following about the Adelaide horse races – George Coppin also owned race horses! 

South Australian Advertiser. 11 January, 1861

Billy Barlow At The Races

I’ve been to the races and had a fine spree,

I’ve enjoyed myself well, for it just suited me;

The horses ran well, there were none of them slow,

They went like good racers, says Mr. Barlow.

The “Colonel” surprised all the knowing ones here,

Leaving “Bandicoot,” “Tommy,” and all in the rear;

He’s a first-race flat racer, we all of us know,

But he can’t go at hurdles, says Billow Barlow.

There was one little chestnut horse, ” Gift” was his name,

IHe shoved the old ” Colonel” quite close in his game,

But old Rogers well trained him, we all of us know,

‘Twas five bob out of pocket for poor Billy Barlow.

There were several races well contested that day,

Between “Nobbler” and “Moro,” with others as gay;

” Moro” tried hard, but found it no go,

”Nobbler” for the Maiden, said William Barlow.

The Hurdle race next our attention most calls,

For several riders got serious falls ;

But “Bandicoot Tommy” is a rum one to go,

He can fly over hurdles, says Billy Barlow.

The Hack Hurdles next on our list we must place,

It certainly was a jolly fine race ;

There’s no hesitation, but at it they go,

‘T was the best of the lot to please Billy Barlow.

There were several races after this one took place,

For a saddle and bridle, and a galloway race;

But Mooney’s mare ” Betsy” was beat by ” Moro,”

His pace was too good, so says Mr. Barlow.

The refreshments were served in the old English style

With good seats in the shade to recline on a while;

Good wine, grog, and ale from the tent. Sir, did flow,

I was content with a ham bone, said William Barlow.

Adelaide City Entertainments.

CURRIE-STREET CIRCUS. 

Advertiser Adelaide 1889

On Saturday evening Professor Fenton will open his circus in Currie Street, and many novelties will be introduced. A good programme of buckjumping and bullockriding is promised, including feats by acrobats and trapeze-artists The only educated bullock in the States will also be on show. This afternoon Professor Fenton will drive the bullock attached to a trap through the streets of the city gardens from Currie-street at 2 o clock. The open-air- entertainments presented by the management of Urban s Pictures and Continental Concert Company during the holiday week are to be revived at the Jubilee Exhibition Gardens on Saturday evening.

PEYTON’S CIRCUS AND ROUGH RIDERS.   

Advertiser Adelaide 1889

Tivoli Theatre – A large audience greeted the opening performance of. Professor Fenton’s Circus and Rough-riders at Currie-street on Saturday night. The first item of the entertainment introduced Miss Mabel Fenton and Mr. Lefell in their artistic wire-walking and balancing feats. Miss Nellie Coleman, as a contortionist and sand-dancer, was much appreciated. Miss Mabel Fenton, besides being an accomplished horse-woman and wire-walker, proved herself efficient on the aerial trapeze. Mr. and Miss Nellie Coleman, with the assistance of the clown, gave a clever acrobatic display. Darkie, the educated horse, showed itself to be an intelligent animal by answering various questions. Professor Fenton and Mr. Wildred illustrated the use of the lasso. The program concluded with an exhibition of buckjumping, in which “Billy,” a Queensland native, endeavoured to ride two local outlaws. One of the horses threw its rider in his first attempt to ride it, but on remounting “Billy” succeeded in sticking to the animal. A small pony threw two boys. The program will be repeated tonight, with various additions, including an attempt to ride Dynamite, a dangerous outlaw, and a performance by the educated bullock.

Adelaide in the Great Depression.

South Australia was particularly hard hit during the Great Depression of the 1930s because of its manufacturing and building supplies sectors. The land around the Torrens River became the home for many displaced persons and in some ways the river divided the city into rich (South and East) and poor (West and North west). In 1932 there was 34% unemployment just in the trade union sector.

A cardboard town was built to accommodate the homeless. It was finally demolished by the city council in 1938.

There are no specific Depression songs from the South Australian experience however songs popular in the eastern states would no doubt have been sung locally.

Shearing & Droving Songs

The following song, from the shearing industry, was a real find. A fragment had been collected in Victoria by Dr Percy Jones, a Catholic priest, in the 1950s. He had two verses and his contributor called it The Station Cook. Here in an 1879 newspaper was the original and complete song – titled The Shearer’s Hardships it had been sent in by a shearer who even mentioned the tune as ‘The Knickerbocker Line’. 

Evening Star, 1879, Adelaide.

 

The Shearer’s Hardships.

Oh dear, I feel so queer, I don’t know what to do

The thought of leaving Fowler’s Bay, it breaks my heart in two.

If I only meet that slushy, I’ll make him rue the day,

That he destroyed my constitution, at that station – Fowler’s Bay

Chorus:

Oh dear, I feel so queer, I don’t know what to do

The thought of leaving Fowler’s Bay, it breaks my heart in two.

Our cook he is a baker and confectioner by trade

And many a batch of sour bread and brownie he has made

He turns out in the morning and gives us plenty of stewed tea

So don’t forget when shearing’s done to pay the cook his fees

Oh, you ought to see his plum duffs, doughboys and meat pies

I swear by long Maloney it would open sheaers’ eyes

He says, “take your time good fellows, and stares up with a glance

I will dish you up much better if you give me but the chance

Won’t I have some news to tell my friends in Adelaide?

How much I did improve in health while in Fowler’s Bay I staid;

Our cook is so kind, and sweet, and obliging to us all,

That every time I look at him he reminds me of St Paul

Spoken:

Now, gentlemen when I say St Paul, I beg to be excused. I don’t wish to distinguish that inferior individual as a representative of that good saint to whom we are all taught to believe in according to Scripture. No, gentlemen shearers and brother bushmen, I am only comparing him to that Boolcoomatta blackfellow, who assumes the name of St Paul owing to his religious style of corroboree, but a more tender-hearted fellow than our insignificant cook. So it’s

Chorus:

Oh, dear I feel so queer etc

Shear Imposition

SHEARERS at Mount Tenandra, New South

Wales, want a fine of 20 pounds imposed on any

man found cooking for himself while shearing

or crutching on a station. They have sent a

motion to this effect to the annual convention

of the Australian Workers’ Union.

The Mail. Adelaide 1 Feb. 1941

When a shearer’s done his little bit of clipping,

And barbered jumbucks bound about in glee,

If he tries to grab the frying pan and dripping

And seeks to cook a bit of steak for tea,

According to this New South Wales restriction,

He’ll find his bout of frying isn’t fun.

If £20 is paid for dereliction,

A shearer’s lot is not a happy one.

While he’s working at his pastoral employment

He will frequently be taken down a peg,

If he tries, for gastronomical enjoyment,

By stealth to poach, or even boil an egg.

He will find that cheffing’s terribly expensive

If he tries to boil his billy on the run;

So you know why we are feeling apprehensive

That a shearer’s lot it not a happy one.

SEEBEE. (Claude Beresford)

South Australia was a major export port, especially for wheat and beef. The drovers and men who worked the cattle stations were justifiably proud of our record beef exports and of the quality of our beef. They reckoned it was far superior to the beef of old England. The song was printed in the Adelaide Advertiser in 1860.

Incidentally, the tune for the following song was played on the Titanic (on a bugle) to call the first class passengers to dinner.

• The Boiled Beef of Australia •

(Tune: The Roast Beef of Old England)

Hurrah for the meat now our own’s got too dear

They’re bringing preserved from Australia to here

The workman can add to his bread and his beer

The tender boiled beef of Australia,

Oh, the Australian boiled beef!

The butchers will shake in their shoes I’ll be bound

With their chops and their steaks at a shilling a pound

A joint for poor folks that are touch’d and unsound

For now we’ve the beef of Australia

The tender boiled beef of Australia

Oh, the Australian boiled beef!

When juicy boiled beef is the artisan’s fare

He’ll find it at once inexpensive and good

At five pence a pound, fat and bones will exclude,

For now we’ve the beef’ of’ Australia

The tender boiled beef of Australia

Oh, the Australian boiled beef!

So let us from all the stale rubbish refrain

Some butchers oft sell far exorbitant gain

And stick to the beef that’s brought over the main

For now we’ve the beef of Australia

The tender roast beef of Australia

I’m not too sure what prompted the following song about eating horse flesh – certainly Germans have eaten horse for generations and the first major influx of German settlers came as early as the 1830s – they were probably hungry after such a long voyage!

Sing a Song of Horse Flesh

Sing a song of horseflesh,

Or hippo-pha-gy,

Three screws served up

In boil, roast and fry.

When the screws were eaten,

The guests began to sing,

Isn’t this a dainty dish to set

Before the King.

Hey diddle diddle,

Horse loin in the middle,

Horse soup in everyone’s spoon.

The little dogs fear,

Their supply may run short,

And the knackers may shut up shop soon.

Ride a stock horse,

To the kitchen, of course,

To see him stewed down to puree perforce

Use his liver for patties,

For jelly his toes,

And eat him up clean,

From his tail to his nose.

Hickory dickory dock,

Horse makes capital stock,

A horse-steak fill on,

And you’ll eat ‘till it’s gone,

Hickory dickory dock.

A cadger was someone who leaned on others for a handout.

Following son located by Warren Fahey in a soft-covered booklet titled Christmas on Carringa, by J C Johnson, published Adelaide, 1873.

Jim The Cadger On The Wallaby Track.

(Tune. The Cures)

You want to know my title and likewise who I am?

Then hark and I will tell you and I won’t tell you a cram

My name is Jim the Cadger, I’m a downy cove, you see,

‘Hard Graft’, it ain’t my fancy for it somehow don’t suit me.

Chorus

So trampers gather ‘round and I’ll tell you in a crack,

How to work the stations when you’re on the wallaby track.

Yes, I’m a jovial cadger, I roves the country ‘round

And goes to all the stations where I hope work won’t be found!

The men’s hut then I enter, and just the night to stay,

And the grub I prigs at breakfast, will last me through the day

But sometimes cooks is crusty and they tell you “that the cove

Says trampers are too plentiful, give them no grub, by Jove,

You may doss down in the woolshed and sleep there for the night,

But as far as mutton and damper – why, he can’t give you a bite.’

Now having sung my ditty, I may as well shut up shop,

For I ain’t got no more to say, I’ve told you quite enough

About how to do the squatters as I promised sometimes back,

And how to work the stations when on the wallaby track.

Girls of the Shamrock Shore

Collected Fahey from Sister Mary (Mclaughlin),  Adelaide, 1972. corro files AFU

It being in the spring when the small birds sing

And the lambs do sport and play

I entered as a passenger, to New South Wales sailed o’er;

And I’ll bid farewell to all that dwell

And the girls of the shamrock shore.

The ship that bore us from the land,

The Speedwell was her name,

For full five months and upwards boys,

We ploughed the foaming main,

Neither land nor harbour could we see,

Or the girls of the shamrock shore

On the fifteenth of September, boys,

We soon did make the land,

At four o’clock we went on shore

All chained hand to hand,

My sentence is for fourteen years

Farewell to the shamrock shore.

One of the great mysteries of Australian folklore is the total absence of songs about the mighty riverboats that travelled up and down the Murray River. They were such an important part of our inland story and one can only imagine they have been lost in time. One song, although attributable, does manage to capture the spirit of the river and the riverboats.  Burl Ives sings a suitably whimsical version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMm7292Yyvw

Written by Keighley Goodchild and quoted by Ian Mudie, River Boats, Rigby Ltd, Adelaide 1961, p. 126

A Nautical Yarn

(Tune: The Dreadnought)

I sing of a captain not unknown to fame;

A naval commander, Bill Jinks was his name,

Who sailed where the Murray’s clear waters do flow,

Did this freshwater shellback, with his yeo heave a yeo.

To the Port of Wahgunyah his vessel was bound

When night comes upon him and darkness around;

Not a star on the waters its clear light did throw;

But the vessel sped onward with a Yeo heave a yeo.

“Oh! Capting, oh! Capting, let’s make for the shore,

For the winds they do rage and the winds they do roar!”

“Nay, nay,” said the capting, “though the fierce winds may blow,

I will stick to my vessel with a Yeo heave a yeo.”

“Oh! Capting, oh! Capting, the waves sweep the deck,

Oh Capting, oh! Capting, we’ll soon be a wreck —

To the river’s deep bosom each seaman will go!”

But the capting laughed lightly, with his Yeo heave a yeo.

“Farewell to the maiding — the girl I adore;

Farewell to my friends — I shall see them no more!

” The crew shrieked in terror, the capting he swore —

They had stuck on a sandbank, so the men walked ashore

A South Australian Ghost Story.

Ghost of Prospect Hall    

Ghost Prospect Hall Adelaide has the ghostly carriage, which drives up to the door. A woman in white silk gets out, walks up to the door and proceeds to peer in any uncurtained window. Then disappears.

Cecil Sharp In Australia

It might come as a surprise that England’s greatest folk song collector, Cecil Sharp, once lived in Adelaide. He migrated to the colony in 1882 and returned to England ten years later in 1892.

The Mail Adelaide May 1936

CECIL SHARP. Perhaps I had better tell music lovers something of Cecil Sharp — now, as far is his association with South Australia is concerned, famous for the first time.  Born in England and a graduate of Cambridge; Sharp was given a few pounds by his father and told to seek his fortune in Australia. The world of commerce rewarded him with the position as a bank clerk. Soon, how ever, the judiciary bid higher for his services, and he became a judge’s associate.

Still greater things were in store for the young Englishman, and historians of the day make a great ‘red-letter’ entry when Mr. Sharp was duly appointed assistant organist at St. Peter’s Cathedral. He had an honorary position under Arthur Boult.. Cecil Sharp seems then to have taken his musical work seriously, and we hear of him teaching at a school of music when he returned to the parentage roof in England.

Then indeed Sharp did actually make history, his researches into English folk song being of lasting value to English music. Perhaps I should have mentioned that while resident in our State Mr. Sharp composed some ‘nursery’ rhymes!

South Australia still produces some of Australia’s most superior wheat. It was often regarded as the ‘wheat belt’ of the nation. A. B. Paterson wrote a very famous ‘Song of Wheat’ which became a favourite of reciters.  Considering the size of the industry and the fact it employed itinerant labour, it is surprising there are so few anonymous poems and songs about the golden grain.

The Worker, (Brisbane) 14 August, 1909

A Song of Wheat

The farmer gladly sows his wheat,

Sows his wheat,  

Sows his wheat.

The farmer gladly sows his wheat,

His heart filled with elation.

And in good time he threshes it

Threshes it,    

Threshes it.

And in good time he threshes it  

And hauls it to the station.

It sells for what it cost to raise,

Cost to raise,          

Cost to raise.

It sells for what it cost to raise,

Hie doesn’t feel so funny.

The bulls and bears they play with it,

Play with it,    

Play with it.

The bulls arid bears they play with it

And gather in the money.

—Ex.

A Song of Wheat

The North Eastern Ensign (Benalla) 22 Dec. 1911. Attributed to A.R.B.

A song for the fun of a harvest done,

And a rollicking cheer for the wheat,

By many a train the golden grain

Is borne to the waiting fleet.

As we tramp along we shout our song,

To tell that our troubles are finished,

And the future we face with the pluck of our race,

and our courage undiminished.

A cheer for the pluck that faced ill-luck,

Till we broke the back of the drought,

For we fought like men, and rallied again,

Till we tired our bad luck out.

Dame Fortune’s face, with a bounteous grace,

Has smiled on us once again,

As women will do when you come to woo

And you carry yourselves like men.

The ships will steer to our coasts this year;

They have heard of our golden fields;

And we’ll fill them full with the grains and wool

That our prosp’rous harvest yields.

So one cheer more for the joys in store

For us who have won the fight.

And our pockets weigh quite heavy this day,

That is why our hearts are light.

Cycling In South Australia

The introduction of the popular two-wheel bicycle in the 1880s – as opposed to the ‘bone-shaker’ earlier models, was seen as a boon for the itinerant worker and also for city dwellers. First seen as a novelty, the idea of self-propelled transport was quickly adopted by both women and men. Many considered them outrageously dangerous. For the next fifty years cycling had its own magazines, newspaper columns and, of course, a booming support industry for tyres, clothing and various inventions associated with the machine. Many city dwellers objected to the loud noise created by bell-ringing cyclists.

The Bulletin Magazine carried advertising representing the latest fads of the day, especially cycling, with large promotions for Swift Cycles, Dunlop Tyres, and in an advertisement for Austral Cycles reported that: ‘A. Macdonald rode from Port Darwin to Adelaide – 2050 miles in 28 days 6 hours – on a Swift Bicycle with Dunlop Tyres.’ Such news would have been hotly discussed in the work camps and no doubt led to many itinerant shearers purchasing a bicycle to transport themselves across the country.

When Cycles Were Dangerous

Curious Adelaide Procession

Introduction of bells.

July 1931, Advertiser and Register,  Adelaide

Now fast approaching that inoffensive stage when it will be placed in a mechanical museum as a curiosity, it is difficult to realise that at one time in the State’s history the old high and low wheeled bicycle was looked upon by Adelaide’s councillors as a vehicle as dangerous as a high powered motor car is now.  There seems to have been a wide difference of opinion on the subject.

When in 1881 the City Council decreed by by-law that warning devices a bell that could be heard by a pedestrian from a distance of 50 yards—should be carried, in addition to a light, cycling clubs, and other owners of vehicles, thought the time ripe for direct action.

They could not see the necessity for such a drastic step, because they explained that whenever there was a collision the cyclist fared worst. Those old bicycles had a nasty habit of tipping forwards, and not falling sideways, when they came in contact with any obstruction. With the League of Wheelmen in the rear the riders gathered in Victoria-square the night after the promulgation of the by-law, a demonstrated to those who saw fit to impose additional restrictions upon them, what could be accomplished when the new law was interpreted literally.

Jargon of Sound. Half measures were disregarded.  There were warning instruments in plenty, both in size and sound. Cow bells, auctioneers’ bells, Hymnal bells, and bells made from ‘tins and bolts, disturbed the dignity of the city dining the time it took a procession to travel from Victoria-square down King William-street, and along Rundle-street.  It impressed those in authority, for later a by-law was gazetted, making it an offence to carry any noisy warning device. But cyclists still had to have bells attached to their machines, and there is no alteration yet.  Another by-law of the council, made at the same time, stated that when a horse, mule, or other beast of burden was alarmed by the approach of a bicycle the rider should dismount, and remain dismounted until the animal was calmed. Here again the cyclists and there were many of them, although machines cost about £24 each thought that they had been harshly treated. They were not sufficiently courageous to ride past a fractious animal, they said.

First Ball Bearings. It was at that time that ball bearings were introduced, and the public flocked to see the speed demons compete on the track round the playing area of the Adelaide Oval, with the same enthusiasm as people now show at motor cycling races. So important were the meetings that they attracted riders from Victoria and New South Wales. Today the same type of machine is almost an archaic relic, and a device for providing the burlesque in processions and at carnival cycling meetings. Its rival as a subject of contention between the legislators, and the public can only be the motorcar.

Cycling Songs

Cycling Song

Evelyn Observer and South and East Bourke Record,. 6 October 1899.

Tile dew reflects the coming day;

I mount my wheel and speed away

Along the street as if on wings,

The wild wind through my whiskers sings.

I see a fat man from afar,

In waiting for a morning car;

A jolt, a crash, a sickening thud

I send him rolling in the mud

With that stern joy which cyclists feel

In foemen worthy of his wheels.

Sing a Song of Bicycles. 

The Queenslander, 8 February 1896

Sing a song of bicycles, a pocket full of gold

Four-and-twenty different kinds, and each the best one sold;

Each one with its partisans its eulogies to sing;

Every one the daintiest that ere bore a king.

The king has left his counting-house and wisely spent his money;

The queen and he are bicycling, forgetting bread and honey;

The maid has bought a wheel, too, and left her banging clothes;

‘Twould take a nimble blackbird now to nip off half her nose.

This collection of South Australian folklore is a sweeping overview – a sampling – there are so many other stories that could be told.

Some notable South Australian events –

1851 First territory in British Empire to do away with state aid to religion.

1854 First animal drawn railway established Goolwa to Port Elliott

1876 First territory outside of Britain to legalise trade unions

1882 First  cement manufacturer – William Lewis

1895  First colony to allow women to vote

First country in world to allow women to stand for parliament

First wine cask (Angroves).

The Port of Adelaide played a major role in Colonial Australia (It is still a busy port) as did Kangaroo Island which was home to many sealers and whalermen. Visit the maritime section of the Australian Folklore Unit for a detailed account of shanties taken down in 1923/4 on KI.

And, finally, a toast to South Australia. 

Australian Women’s Weekly 1970

Here’s to South Australia, the land we live in,

A darned good place to lend and give in,

But to get back what is your own

It’s the worst darn place that ever was known.

Here’s to the world as the world goes on,

And here’s to the death that we are all sure of.

If life was a thing money could buy,

The rich would live and the poor would die.

So up, me lads, and down with the drink!