Colonial Experience By Banjo Paterson

The Hash Truths of Immigration

This satirical ballad adopts the perspective of a newly arrived English migrant underwhelmed by their introduction to Australia. Through humorous vignettes, Paterson reveals the gulf between promotion and reality.

The speaker moves from marveling at Sydney to quickly feeling duped by the brutal climate, venomous insects, tricksters, and lack of easy fortune as promised. Their woeful refrain “it’s broiling” and longing for home underscore discomfort.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

By mocking tall tales of abundant gold and work, Paterson criticizes the exaggeration used to lure immigrants. Fanciful hearsay is contrasted with the migrant’s deflating discoveries like backbreaking toil for little payoff.

While exaggerated for comic effect, the poem provides insightful social commentary on the myths and false hopes surrounding emigration to Australia. Many immigrants were unprepared for the harsh truths.

So “Colonial Experience” gives a witty voice to disappointment in the colonies, where suffering was often more plentiful than success. Paterson satirizes the ignorance and hubris of many new arrivals.


[By A New Chum]

(Air: “So Early in the Morning.”)

When first I came to Sydney Cove
And up and down the streets did rove,
I thought such sights I ne’er did see
Since first I learnt my A, B, C.


Oh! it’s broiling in the morning,
It’s toiling in the morning,
It’s broiling in the morning,
It’s toiling all day long.

Into the park I took a stroll–
I felt just like a buttered roll.
A pretty name “The Sunny South!”
A better one “The Land of Drouth!”

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Next day into the bush I went,
On wild adventure I was bent,
Dame Nature’s wonders I’d explore,
All thought of danger would ignore.

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

The mosquitoes and bull-dog ants
Assailed me even through my pants.
It nearly took my breath away
To hear the jackass laugh so gay!

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

This lovely country, I’ve been told,
Abounds in silver and in gold.
You may pick it up all day,
Just as leaves in autumn lay!

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Marines will chance this yarn believe,
But bluejackets you can’t deceive.
Such pretty stories will not fit,
Nor can I their truth admit.

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Some say there’s lots of work to do.
Well, yes, but then, ‘twixt me and you,
A man may toil and broil all day–
The big, fat man gets all the pay,

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

Mayhap such good things there may be,
But you may have them all, for me,
Instead of roaming foreign parts
I wish I’d studied the Fine Arts!

Chorus: Oh! it’s broiling, &c.

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