Mudcat Café message #4071897 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168402   Message #4071897
Posted By: Stewie
14-Sep-20 - 09:43 PM
Thread Name: Mudcat Australia/NZ Songbook
Subject: RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
Once again, I forgot to login.

Of course, this Lawson poem should be among any collection of Australian 'folk songs'.

FREEDOM ON THE WALLABY
(Henry Lawson)

Australia's a big country
An' Freedom's humping bluey,
An' Freedom's on the wallaby
Oh! don't you hear 'er cooey?
She's just begun to boomerang,
She'll knock the tyrants silly,
She's goin' to light another fire
And boil another billy.

Our fathers toiled for bitter bread
While loafers thrived beside 'em,
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
Their native land denied 'em.
An' so they left their native land
In spite of their devotion,
An' so they came, or if they stole,
Were sent across the ocean.

Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare
O' Royalty's regalia,
She left the loafers where they were,
An' came out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
The chains have come ter bind her
She little thought to see again
The wrongs she left behind her.

Our parents toil'd to make a home
Hard grubbin 'twas an' clearin'
They wasn't crowded much with lords
When they was pioneering.
But now that we have made the land
A garden full of promise,
Old Greed must crook 'is dirty hand
And come ter take it from us.

So we must fly a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle!

There are plenty of renditions available on the Net. Unfortunately, my favourite is not - Bob Rummery singing it on Loaded Dog 'Dusty gravel road'. Loaded Dog faithfully keep to Lawson's text.

Decades ago, I put together the following intro for a themed concert of Oz songs. It may be of interest:

The depression of the early 1890s led to an explosion of the antagonisms that had been simmering between capital and labour. Strikes and lockouts were the order of the day. The shearers' strike of 1891 brought Australia close to the brink of civil war at a time when working people throughout the world were demanding social justice, better pay and improved working conditions. The powerful squatters were aided and abetted by colonial governments, the military and the police. At Barcaldine, over 1500 troopers with cannon and gattling guns confronted 1000 armed shearers who were attacking a train loaded with scabs. This led to hundreds of shearers being arrested and woodsheds being burned to the ground. Lawson published 'Freedom on the Wallaby' in 'The Worker' in Brisbane on 16 May 1891. It was his comment on the use of the military to put down the shearers' strike and some stanzas were read out in the Queensland parliament amid calls for his arrest for sedition. The poem took to the bush and grew itself a tune. A.G. Stephens once said of one of Lawson's poems and would have said of many 'this is not high poetry, but the passion, the grip of it, make it valuable and, in Australia, memorable. It is interesting to note that, as early as 1889, Lawson was writing: 'I don't think I'd live for a week under the freedom or tyranny of unionism, universal brotherhood, glorious liberty or whatever you like to call it'.

--Stewie.