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Old Bark Hut


CLASSIC BUSH VERSE – BUSH LIFE and BUSH STRIFE

The Old Bark Hut

ANON.

This was a much-loved and often recited poem. It also saw life as a song and has been collected several times. I had it from Mr Jacob Lollbach, who was 102 when I taped him for my National Library Oral History Collection, and he had been singing it in the Clarence River area, near Grafton, for over eighty years. It was also included in Paterson’s Old Bush Songs, 1905 edition. Will Lawson, in Australian Bush Songs and Ballads, attributed this song to William Perrie, adding, ‘These verses were written in the shepherding days – when fences were few and far between – at Dungog, NSW. William Perrie was a veterinary surgeon in practice there.’ Verses five, six and seven are from this version.

My name is Bob the swagman, before you all I stand,
And I’ve had many ups and downs whilst travelling through the land,
I once was well to do, my boys, but now I’m all stumped up,
And I’m forced to go on rations, in on old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
I’m forced to go on rations in an old bark hut.

Ten pounds of flour, ten pounds of meat, some sugar and some tea,
That’s all they give a hungry man, until the seventh day,
And if you’re not mighty careful, you’ll go with a hungry gut,
And that’s one of the great misfortunes, in an old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
That’s one of the great misfortunes in an old bark hut

The bucket you boil your beef in has to carry water too,
They’d say you’re getting mighty flash, if you should ask for two,
I’ve a billy can and a pint pot and a broken handle cup,
And they all adorn the table of my old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
And they all adorn the table in the old bark hut.

The table is not a bit of wood, as many you have seen
For if I had one half as good I’d think myself serene.
It’s only an old sheet of bark; God knows when it was cut,
It was blown from off the rafters of that old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
It was blown from off the rafters of the old bark hut

And of furniture there’s no such thing, ‘twas never in the place,
Except the stool I sit upon – and that’s an old gin-case,
It does one as a safe as well – but you must keep it shut,
Or the flies would make it canter round the old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
Or the flies would make it canter round the old bark hut.

If you should leave it open, and the flies should find your meat,
They will not leave a single piece that’s fit for man to eat;
But you mustn’t curse nor grumble, as the maggots out you cut –
What’s out of sight is out of mind, in an old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
What’s out of sight is out of mind, in an old bark hut.

In the summer time, when the weather’s warm, this hut is nice and cool,
The breezes blowing through the cracks are balmy, as a rule,
You may leave the old door open, boys, but f you leave it shut,
There’s no fear of suffocation in an old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
There’s no fear of suffocation in an old bark hut.

In winter time – preserve us all – to live in there’s a treat,
Especially when it’s raining hard, and blowing wind and sleet.
The rain comes down the chimney, and your meat is black with soot –
There’s a substitute for pepper in an old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
There’s a substitute for pepper in an old bark hut.

I’ve seen the rain come in this hut, just like a perfect flood,
Especially through that great big hole where once the table stood;
There’s not a blessed spot, me boys, where you could lay your nut,
But the rain is sure to find you in the old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
But the rain is sure to find you in the old bark hut.

So beside the fire I make my bed, and there I lay me down,
And think myself as happy as the king that wears a crown.
But as you’re dozing off to sleep a flea will wake you, but,
‘Tis useless cursing fleas and such in an old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
‘Tis useless cursing fleas and such in an old bark hut.

Such packs of fleas you never saw, they are so plump and fat,
If you should make a grab at one, he’ll spit just like a cat,
Last night they found my pack of cards, and were fighting for the cut,
And I thought the devil had me in the old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
And I thought the devil had me in the old bark hut.

And now, my boys, I’ve sung my song and that as well as I could,
And I hope the ladies present will not think my language rude,
And all you younger people, in the days when you grow up,
Just remember Bob the swagman, in his old bark hut.

Chorus
In an old bark hut, in an old bark hut,
Just remember Bob the Swagman, in his old bark hut.