Bush Ballad ‘The Banks of the Condamine’

The Banks of the Condamine

 

Oh, hark the dogs are barking, love,

I can no longer stay,

The men are all gone mustering

And it is nearly day.

And I must be off by the morning light,

Before the sun doth shine,

To meet the Roma shearers,

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh Willie, dearest Willie,

I’ll go along with you,

I’ll cut off all my auburn fringe

And be a shearer, too.

I’ll cook, and count your tally, love,

While ringer-o you shine,

And I’ll wash your greasy moleskins

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh, Nancy, dearest Nancy,

With me you cannot go,

The squatters gave us orders, love,

No woman should do so;

Your delicate constitution

Is not equal unto mine,

To withstand the constant tigering

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh Willy, dearest Willy,

Then stay back home with me,

We’ll take up a selection,

And a farmer’s wife I’ll be.

I’ll help you husk the corn, love,

And cook your meals so fine.

You’ll forget the ram-stag mutton

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh, Nancy, dearest Nancy,

Please do not hold me back,

Down there the boys are waiting,

And I must be on the track.

So here’s a goodbye kiss, love,

Back home here I’ll incline

When we’ve shorn the last of the jumbucks

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Anonymous.

 

 

From ‘Bush Songs, Ballads and Other Verse’ selected by Douglas Stewart and Nancy Keesing and published 1967 by Angus & Robertson Ltd, printed by Discovery Press.

The following information from—
https://music.stevetowson.com/track/the-banks-of-the-condamine-2

Poetry Clipart 08

Australian traditional music has a dearth of love songs, but here is one from our home state of Queensland.  The English folk singer and collector A.L. Lloyd wrote about this song—

“Throughout the fifty years from 1820 to 1870, broadside printers in London, Newcastle, Dublin and elsewhere did a good trade with the stall-ballad called ‘Banks of the Nile’, a song from the Napoleonic Wars.  The song spread to America and Australia, and in Queensland it became parodied as ‘The Banks of the Condamine’, with the hero no longer a soldier but a horse-breaker or a shearer.  It has turned up in sundry shapes, to various tunes, many times over, mostly in Queensland.”

FOOTNOTE:

  1. This bush ballad was first published under another name in The Queenslander, the literary edition of the Brisbane Courier in 1894.
  2. The Condamine River in southeast Queensland is 657 kilometres long and starts below Cons Plain and ends at the Balonne River.
  3. It was named in honour of Lieut. Thomas De La Condamine (1797-1873) the A.D.C. to Governor Ralph Darling who also has a river named after him.  But the Darling River has been known as the Baaka by the Barkindji people for thousands of years.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condamine_River

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Condamine River Sheep Shearer Demo

‘September in Australia’ Poem by Henry Kendall

‘September in Australia’ by Henry Kendall

Grey Winter hath gone, like a wearisome guest,
And, behold, for repayment,
September comes in with the wind of the West
And the Spring in her raiment!
The ways of the frost have been filled of the flowers,
While the forest discovers
Wild wings, with the halo of hyaline hours,
And the music of lovers.

September, the maid with the swift, silver feet!
She glides, and she graces
The valleys of coolness, the slopes of the heat,
With her blossomy traces;
Sweet month, with a mouth that is made of a rose,
She lightens and lingers
In spots where the harp of the evening glows,
Attuned by her fingers.

The stream from its home in the hollow hill slips
In a darling old fashion;
And the day goeth down with a song on its lips,
Whose key-note is passion.
Far out in the fierce, bitter front of the sea
I stand, and remember
Dead things that were brothers and sisters of thee,
Resplendent September.

The West, when it blows at the fall of the noon
And beats on the beaches,
Is filled with a tender and tremulous tune
That touches and teaches;
The stories of Youth, of the burden of Time,
And the death of Devotion,
Come back with the wind, and are themes of the rhyme
In the waves of the ocean.

We, having a secret to others unknown,
In the cool mountain-mosses,
May whisper together, September, alone
Of our loves and our losses.
One word for her beauty, and one for the grace
She gave to the hours;
And then we may kiss her, and suffer her face
To sleep with the flowers.

High places that knew of the gold and the white
On the forehead of Morning
Now darken and quake, and the steps of the
Night Are heavy with warning!
Her voice in the distance is lofty and loud
Through the echoing gorges;
She hath hidden her eyes in a mantle of cloud,
And her feet in the surges!

On the tops of the hills, on the turreted cones –
Chief temples of thunder –
The gale, like a ghost, in the middle watch moans,
Gliding over and under.
The sea, flying white through the rack and the rain,
Leapeth wild at the forelands;
And the plover, whose cry is like passion with pain,
Complains in the moorlands.

Oh, season of changes – of shadow and shine –
September the splendid!
My song hath no music to mingle with thine,
And its burden is ended;
But thou, being born of the winds and the sun,
By mountain, by river,
Mayst lighten and listen, and loiter and run,
With thy voices for ever.

Henry Kendall (1839 – 1882)

‘Leaves from Australian Forests’
Poems of Henry Kendall – with Prefatory Sonnets.
Third poem – Page 7 of original book.
Pages 163 – with Dedication.
Published 1869 by George Robertson, Melbourne, Australia.
Printed by Walker, May & Co, Melbourne, Australia.

Leaves from the Australia Bush Henry Kendall 02
Poet Henry Kendall – painting ‘Bush Burial’ by Frederick McCubbin (1890)

Website https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Leaves_from_Australian_Forests.html?id=D5UuAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Henry Lawson’s Birthday Tribute

Henry Lawson Photograph 1902
Henry Lawson 1902

It’s Henry Lawson’s birthday today.  Writer, poet and balladist, Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson (17 June 1867–2 Sept 1922) redefined and immortalised early Australian life despite suffering many hardships including deafness.  Along with his contemporary Andrew ‘Banjo’ Paterson, Henry Lawson is among the best-known Australian bush poets and fiction writers of the Colonial period.  He was the son of the poet, publisher and feminist Louisa Lawson.


Henry Lawson Bush Poem

Read the full version of this ballad on Australian Poetry Library website.


Henry Lawson Poetry Book
‘While the Billy Boils’ is a collection of short stories in prose and verse by iconic Australian writer Henry Lawson, published by Angus and Robertson in 1896.  It includes ‘The Drover’s Wife’, ‘On the Edge of a Plain’ and ‘The Union Buries Its Dead’.

Quote: “Old Mathews drank to drown sorrow, which is the strongest swimmer in the world.”  The Ridiculous Family, from ‘Triangles of Life and Other Stories’ (1913)

Gretchen Bernet-Ward