Mudcat Café message #4072151 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168402   Message #4072151
Posted By: Stewie
16-Sep-20 - 10:12 PM
Thread Name: Mudcat Australia/NZ Songbook
Subject: RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
I can't believe I did it again.

Anyhow, despite no answer re Kiwi songs, if R-J can post one, so can I. Here is my favourite - it has an Australian connection with Cobb & Co. Phil Garland put a tune to Peter Cape's lovely poem.


When Cobb & Co ran coaches from the Buller to the Grey
I went for a livery-stable lad in a halt up Westport way
And I gave my heart to a red-haired girl, and left it where she lay
By the winding Westland highway from the Buller to the Grey

There's Neatsfoot on my fingers, and lamp-black on my face
And I've saddle-soaped the harness and hung each piece in place
But my heart's not in the stable, it's in Charleston far away
Where Cobb & Co goes rolling by from Buller to the Grey

There's a red-haired girl in Charleston, and she's dancing in the bar
But I know she's not like other girls who dance where miners are
And I can't forget her eyes and everything they seemed to say
The day I rode with Cobb & Co from Buller to the Grey

There's a schooner down from Murchison, I can hear it in the gorge
So I'll have to pump the bellows now and redden up the forge
And I'll strike that iron so very hard she'll hear it far away
In the roaring European that the road runs by from Grey

Some day I'll be a teamster with the ribbons in my fist
And I'll drive that Cobb & Co Express through rain and snow and mist
Drive a four-in-hand to Charleston, and no matter what they say
I'll take my girl up on the box and marry her in Grey

There's a graveyard down in Charleston where the moss trails from the trees
And the Westland wind comes moaning in from off the Tasman seas
And it's there they laid my red-haired girl, in a pit of yellow clay
As Cobb & Co went rolling by from Buller to the Grey

Youtube clip

Back in the day, I once introduced with the following - I can't remember where I got the info.

This tragic love story of a stable hand and saloon girl is set against the colourful background of Cobb & Co coach travel. Freeman Cobb, an American, began Cobb & Co in Australia in 1853. From small beginnings, it became the biggest and best transport system in the world with branches in all Australian states (except Tasmania) and in NZ, South Africa and Japan. The red-haired girl in the poem is obviously Catholic. There are 2 graveyards in Charleston, one on a hill to the north and the Catholic one by the roadside where camper-vans of Japanese tourists go rolling from the Buller to the Grey River Valley. The 2-storey, corrugated-iron European Hotel eventually collapsed in the 1970s. Cobb & Co passengers all travelled one class, but travellers often paid big money to sit on the 'box seat' next to the driver to listen to his yarns, poetry and songs. Sometimes the box seat was auctioned to the higher bidder.

You can find more information here: