SONGS ABOUT PIONEERING – 1


AUSTRALIA AND ITS TRADITIONAL MUSIC – a brief overview

 

 

 

SONGS ABOUT PIONEERING – 1

© Warren Fahey

 

Jack Pobar sings ‘The Old Bullock Dray’, recorded by Warren Fahey, Toowoomba, 1973. NLA.

 

 

The following pioneering song The Old Bullock Dray, is typical of the period surrounding colonial pioneering and has been a firm bush favourite for a long time and has been collected on numerous occasions and all versions capturing the general excitement of ‘going up country’ to start a new life. Paterson provided some notes,

    • A paddy-melon is a small and speedy marsupial, a sort of poor relation of the great kangaroo family.
    • ‘Calling in at the Depot to get an offsider.’ – Female immigrants were housed at the Depot on arrival, and many found husbands within a few hours of their landing. The minstrel, therefore, proposes to call at the Depot to get himself a wife from among the immigrants.

 

    • An offsider is a bullock-driver’s assistant – one who walks on the off-side of the team and flogs the bullocks on that side when occasion arises. The word afterwards came to mean an assistant of any kind.
    • ‘Jack Robertson,’ – Sir John Robertson, as he afterwards became, was a well-known politician, who believed in Australians doing their best to populate their own country.

 

  • ‘Budgery you’ – good fellow you.’

 

THE OLD BULLOCK DRAY
Oh! the shearing is all over,
And the wool is coming down,
And I mean to get a wife, boys,
When I go up to town.
Everything that has two legs
Represents itself in view,
From the little paddy-melon
To the bucking kangaroo.CHORUS
So it’s roll up your blankets,
And let’s make a push;
I’ll take you up the country,
And show you the bush.
I’ll be bound you won’t get
Such a chance another day,
So come and take possession
Of my old bullock dray.

Now I’ve stood up a good cheque,
I mean to buy a team,
And when I get a wife, boys,
I’ll be all-serene.
For, calling at the depot,
They say there’s no delay
To get an off-sider
For the old bullock dray.

Oh! we’ll live like fighting cocks;
For good living, I’m your man.
We’ll have leather jacks, johnny cakes,
And fritters in the pan;
Or, if you’d like some fish,
I’ll catch you some soon,
For we’ll bob for barramundies
Round the banks of a lagoon.

Oh! yes, of beef and damper
I take care we have enough,
And we’ll boil in the bucket
Such a whopper of a duff,
And our friends will dance
To the honour of the day.
To the music of the bells,
Around the old bullock dray.

Oh! we’ll live like fighting cocks;
For good living, I’m your man.
We’ll have leather jacks, johnny cakes,
And fritters in the pan;
Or, if you’d like some fish,
I’ll catch you some soon,
For we’ll bob for barramundies
Round the banks of a lagoon.

 

Oh! yes, of beef and damper
I take care we have enough,
And we’ll boil in the bucket
Such a whopper of a duff,
And our friends will dance
To the honour of the day.
To the music of the bells,
Around the old bullock dray.

Oh! we’ll have plenty girls,
We must mind that.
There’ll be flash little Maggie,
And buckjumping Pat
There’ll be Stringybark Joe,
And Green-hide Mike.
Yes, my Colonials, just
As many as you like.

Now we’ll stop all immigration,
We won’t need it any more;
We’ll be having young natives,
Twins by the score.
And I wonder what the devil
Jack Robertson would say
If he saw us promenading
Round the old bullock dray.

Oh! it’s time I had an answer,
If there’s one to be had,
I wouldn’t treat that steer
In the body half as had;
But he takes as much notice
Of me, upon my soul,
As that old blue stag
Off-side in the pole.

Oh! to tell a lot of lies,
You know, it is a sin,
But I’l go up country
And marry a black gin.
Oh! “Baal gammon white feller,”
This is what she’ll say,
Budgery you
And your old bullock dray.”

 

Anonymous. From Paterson’s Old Bush Songs, 1905. Jack Pobar sang a version of this song to Warren Fahey, in 1973, adding enthusiastically that it ‘was all Australian and Australian all the way.’ The tune is related to Turkey in the Straw, known to nineteen-century Australians as ‘Old Zip Coon’, a popular minstrel tune first published in 1834.