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Stewie Mudcat Australia/NZ Songbook (1009* d) RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia 10 Jan 21

(Anon/N.Colquhoun reconstructed)

The end of the earth is not far from here
And it's getting darker year by year
The gum's getting smaller and deeper down
And never again will I see a town
With tiny white houses all in a row
And women in aprons to and fro
And the bar in the pub down by the sea
Where a ship is waiting there to carry me
Back to the land from where I come
When I was born, where I was young
With a ruddy good tingle on my young face
And money to jingle all over the place

Aye, but then I'd punch the foreman's nose
And run to sea for the 'there she blows'
And get caught out for the homeward cruise
And end up working in moleskin trews
And get a little drunk and get a little sore
And end up fighting it with the law
For what are them bright shop samples for
When a man is hungry and a man is poor
And's got no work worth working for
And's running up north away from the law
Aye, a-walking up north like everyone
To end up sitting out in the sun
At the door of a shack with a hole for a lum
A-scraping up clean a hundred-weight of gum

Youtube clip

'Hooking' for gum, as it was called, was only the very beginning of the work. The digger pushed a long metal spear into the ground to locate the gum, an experienced man quickly distinguishing between gum, rock or tree root by the feel of the spear in his hand. Since few storekeepers paid any more than pennies for gum in its unclean state, it had to be thoroughly scraped in order to more easily assess its quality. [Note in 'Song of a Young Country p25].

One hundred-weight of the gum takes about ten good hours scrapin'. We shared everything - family, that is. Otherwise I don't know how 'twas to be done. But some men, as I recall, lived on their own. Worked on their own. All that scrapin' just by themselves - for the money - enough to live. [Joseph Smith, Dargaville. Personal communication to N. Colquhoun.]


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