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Erina NSW
Recorded 16th April 1973

Mrs Bryant is one of a family of eight Sullivan children. Her parents came from Victoria and settled on lake Cargellico then she moved to Erina, NSW, in the 1950s.

Mrs Bryant’s family were ‘share farmers’ and in the interview she talks about early bush life including:

  • Use of mulga wood in country.
  • Cooking in a camp oven
  • Washing in a kerosene tin
  • ‘living off the land’ – local foods including how they shared meat with local families and that ‘meat was always killed on a frosty night to freeze the meat’ and how they ‘ate every part of the beast’.
  • Explains how used hession bags as a cooling method.

Later on tape Mrs Bryant explains papering walls with newspaper, which was replaced when it got ‘shabby’ and how they devised games using the news copy and pictures.

Talks about old time recreation especially dances mentioning music on the concertina and how they danced the old time waltz, lancers, first set and her favourite, the waltz cotillion.

Talks about singing at dances and especially the popular songs like ‘It’s a bit, bit, bit too hard’, ‘Wee Doch & Doris’ and ‘Only a Leaf’

Talks about transport to dances. “The family would walk five miles to the hall. Recalls family’s first car (Chevrolet). “We would stay all night and go from dance to work.”

Talks about Sunday night singabouts at home with anything up to 20 people around the piano.

Talks about Mother playing the Jew’s harp and explains technique of instrument – “like blowing on a comb and tissue paper’

Talks about the concertina – “Boys used to call them squeezeboxes” and they were very popular at dances.


When Johnny Comes Marching Home

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Talks about dances and the jolly Miller which commences with a couple’s waltz then changes to a march tune – the couples now form a circle (like a progressive barn dance form) and the band plays and couples sing:

The Jolly Miller

There was a jolly miller
And he lived by himself
As the wheel went round
He made his bag
With a hand on the hopper
And the other on the wheel
As the wheel went round
He made his grab…

“Dance commences with couples waltzing like in a barn dance then the music changes to a march time and the couples form a circle.
As this is sung the girls go one-way and the boys the other. On the word ‘grab’ the boys boy exactly that! Then the dance commences with the new couples.

This Little Piggy

This little piggy went to market
This little piggy stayed at home
This little piggy and bread and milk
This little piggy had none.

How I recall my dear old mother, putting me to bed
She tucked me in and said, to a little sleepy head:
This little piggy was a bad little piggy
Who cried all of the way home

Years have passed and it’s still my favourite poem
I dream and pray, some day I’ll say
To a cute little piggy of my own
This little piggy went to market
And this little piggy stayed at home.

Only A Leaf

Sings part and adds “This girl was engaged to this fellow and he came home and found her in the arms of another man – her brother!”

The Luggage Van Ahead

Complete song
Sentimental song learnt from her mother.

Just Plain Folk

First line: To a mansion in the city came a couple old and grey
Complete song

The Black Sheep

First line: There was a man, who had three sons, both Jack & Tom were sly
Complete song


The Wattle Song

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Four Little Pussy Cats
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Three Little Mice

First line: I’ll tell you a story of three little mice

Queen of the Buttercups

First line: “I must be your queen”, the tall buttercup cried

Good Night

First line: A fair little girl sat under a tree
Sewing as long as her eyes could see

My Mistake

First line: I studied my tables, over and over, backwards and forwards too.

My Lesson

First line: I used to kill birds in my boyhood, Blackbirds and robins and wrens,

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