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Emigration and Free Settlers

emigration and free selection

Jack Pobar sings ‘The Old Bullock Dray’. Jack loved Australian stories, verse and song and had learnt this pioneering song in the 1930s, probably from a copy of A. B. Paterson’s ‘Old Bush Songs’, which has a similar text (and presumably the earliest). Recorded by Warren Fahey, Toowoomba, 1973.

Here is a first verse version of the same song recorded by John Meredith in the 1950s from Collie Burke. As with many folk songs the locality has been changed to suit the needs of the singer.

Published in Maitland Mercury and Hunter River:

The Free Selector

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R.H.S. 1933:

The first printer in Australia was a convict by the name of Hughes however since he only printed handbills the first official printer was George Howe Ed of the Sydney Gazette, which appeared 1803

Macquarie Barracks

During the early rein of Macquarie there were no barracks for the convicts and most slept in private dwellings and public buildings ñ the evenings became an opportunity for plunder and disorder. The Macquarie street barracks were erected in 1819 and described by lord Bathurst and Commissioner Bigge as ‘too comfortable, forming a sort of luxury clubhouse’. On June 4, 1819, 589 convicts dined there for the first time, and enjoyed a ‘most excellent dinner, plum pudding and an allowance of punch being allowed them’.

Land, Land Land

(Tune: Land, Land, Land)

Song of The Maidens

A new song to an old tune
(Tune: In The Strand)

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Warren Fahey & The Larrikins sing ‘Sixteen Miles From Home’. Warren Fahey: Vocals. Marcus Holden: Cittern, Dobro. Garry Steel: Accordion. Clare O’Meara: Fiddle.

Sixteen Thousand Miles From Home.

There was a general colonial belief that the distance from London to Sydney was 16,000 miles. However, if the songs are to believed the distance from heart and home was much further. This particular gold digger’s story describes the typically inappropriately dressed new chum (some of them arrived outback complete with top hat and tails), and his complaints of working under the blazing southern sun, chipping rocks to the dissatisfaction of the overseer. Our new chum reckons he’d be better off joining the army and risk getting blown to pieces than keep digging on the goldfields. I have been singing this ‘hooral dooral, tiddy-falooral’ song for nearly forty years and it still makes me smile. I recorded it for my first release on the Larrikin label, Man of the Earth, in 1973. The song was collected by John Meredith, in 1959, from Jack Wright, Coogee, and published in Singabout (1956-67), the magazine of the Bush Music Club, Sydney. He also collected a second version from Edwin Goodwin a year later. Both recordings appear below.

Edwin Goodwin/Meredith. National Library ORAL TRC4/7B

Jack Wright/Meredith. National Library ORAL TRC 4/29B

The Australian Emigrant’s Song

Published London 1867 Words and music

Typical art song and sheet notes that the song was published in Colonial Capers

First line: When the merry little spring birds

Make the woods and vales resound.

Hand-Written Diary of Augustus Cutlack

‘Four Years In Queensland & New South Wales’ 1875
After all that could be seen at night I made my way back to my fire in the old kitchen and taking my flageolet out of my pack I begun to make the old house ring with such tunes as ‘Auld Robin Gray’ Down to the Rat catcher’s Daughter, not forgetting Home Sweet Home. When I had finished I laid down on my blankets in front of the fire and began to think of the old folks at home, not forgetting the youngest of the young ones, after wondering if they thought of me, and feeling sleepy, prepared myself for bed and finally dropped off and dreamt of home.


1850 Vol1. Printed in Charring Cross. The monthly magazine appears to be a Christian Guide to Emigration and includes religious-influenced stories, puzzles and poor songs.

“The most desired emigrants are young married couples, without children, or with only one or two; and elder parents with grown families, the youngest child not under 12 or 14.

The following list contains the smallest quantity of clothing to be taken:


6 shirts 6 Shifts
6 pairs of stockings 2 flannel petticoats
2 pairs of shoes 6 pairs stockings
2 complete suits of exterior clothing 2 pair of shoes
2 gowns

The magazine contains various games and discusses the importance of puzzles and word games in passing the endless days of sail.

Game Of Letters

This is a typical word game.

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Michael Kilgour Beveridge
1863 Melbourne
Songster size


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The Emigrant’s Song

(Tune: Jeannot & Jeannette)

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Warren Fahey: Vocals, Jaw Harp sings ‘Stir The Wallaby Stew’ with Marcus Holden: Tenor Guitar, Dobro. Garry Steel: Accordion, Bass.

Stir The Wallaby Stew.

In 2005 ABC Books published my book, Tucker Track: the curious history of Australian food, including a recipe for the Barcoo Sandwich which, according to Bill Harney, was ‘anything edible including a galah between two sheets of bark!’ The early settlers certainly ate their fair share of native fauna, especially kangaroo and wallaby, but galahs were reputedly tough as old boots. The standard recipe ran: place three galahs in a billy with a large rock. When the rock is soft the birds are ready to eat. Harney used to say the general bush philosophy was, “If it moves, shoot it – it might be good tucker’”.

This song was sent to Dr Percy Jones in the early 1950s, from Joan Bowran, Tallangatta, with a note, “Sung sixty years ago by a Mr Hulbert.”


James Maclehos
RHS reprint of the original 1839
Continues about the importance of emigration.

(The attraction of emigration to New South Wales) ‘Was especially surprising when, the original elements of our society comprised all the vices and miseries of depraved society. Selected by the British Government as the great repository of national crime ñ as the immense sink into which the nation might discharge its ‘superfluity of naughtiness’ ñ this territory was for many years occupied exclusively by felons and their overseers, and could be regarded in no other light than that of a territorial gaol.

NB the system of making free land grants to emigrants remained in operation until the middle of the year 1931.

Hints to Emigrants

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Further advice is given to those headed for an agricultural or mechanical employment recommending they bring tools of trade and ‘any newly invented things’.

Advice, surprisingly, was also given for Convicts. One assumes this information to be passed on to the Convicts by their families.

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