From bankers, boss and syndicate we always had to suffer.
They fought for freedom for themselves, themselves and mates to toil.
But Australia’s sons are weary and the billy’s on the boil.
Australia’s on the wallaby, just listen to the coo-ee.
For the kangaroo he rolls his swag, and the emu shoulders bluey.
The boomerangs are whizzing round, the dingo scratches gravel
The possum bear and bandicoot are all upon the travel.
2. The cuckoo calls the bats and now the pigeon and the shag
The mallee-hen and platypus are rollinq up their swag
For the curlew sings a sad farewell beside the long lagoon
And the brolga does his last-way waltz to the lyrebird’s mocking tune. Refrain
3. There’s tiger-snakes and damper, boys and what’s that on the coals?
There’s drouqhts and floods and ragged duds; there’s dried-up waterholes.
There’s shadeless trees and sun-scorched plains all asking us to toil
But Australia’s sons are weary, and the billy’s on the boil. Refrain
What the lyrics mean
- “on the wallaby” ~ travel outback as a swaggie or sundowner (tramp and casual workers).
- “on the wallaby track” and “hump the drum” mean the same thing.
- billy ~ a tin can with a wire handle or a pot. To make tea, water was boiled in it and a handful of tea thrown in.
- dingo ~ tawny-yellow native Australian wild dog
- brolga ~ an Australian crane known for it’s elegant mating dance. (source)
- more Australian folk songs
- more songs with chords I V
- August 1893 newspaper article with the lyrics of this song
Song pdf with chords & midi below