Flash Jack From Gundagai by Banjo Paterson

Heroes of the Sheep Stations in Paterson’s Poetry

This folk ballad celebrates the spirit and exploits of an archetypal Aussie shearer, the fast-shearing, hard-living, roving “Flash Jack.

Through vivid bush imagery, Paterson romanticizes the shearer’s brawny resilience and devil-may-care attitude as he travels between sheep stations plying his trade. References to shearing tools and techniques add authenticity.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

The lyrical descriptions create an aura of masculinity and toughness around shearers like Flash Jack, shown drinking, fishing, and breaking records without a care.

Yet there are hints of aimlessness and loneliness in Jack’s transient existence along the rivers and plains. The refrain about always returning “to the One Tree Plain” reveals his lack of roots.

While exaggerated, Paterson affectionately mythologizes the shearer as another symbol of bold independence in the bush. But subtle details add nuance around the isolation of Aussie nomadism.

Overall, “Flash Jack from Gundagai” is both a rollicking glorification of outback shearer culture and a thoughtful glimpse into its underlying melancholia through Paterson’s lyrical character portrait.


I’ve shore at Burrabogie, and I’ve shore at Toganmain,
I’ve shore at big Willandra and upon the old Coleraine,
But before the shearin’ was over I’ve wished myself back,
Shearin’ for old Tom Patterson, on the One Tree Plain.


All among the wool, boys,
Keep your wide blades full, boys,
I can do a respectable tally myself whenever I like to try,
But they know me round the back blocks as Flash Jack
from Gundagai.

I’ve shore at big Willandra and I’ve shore at Tilberoo,
And once I drew my blades, my boys, upon the famed Barcoo,
At Cowan Downs and Trida, as far as Moulamein,
But I always was glad to get back again to the One Tree

Chorus: All among the wool, &c.

I’ve pinked ’em with the Wolseleys and I’ve rushed with
B-bows, too,
And shaved ’em in the grease, my boys, with the grass seed
showing through.
But I never slummed my pen, my lads, whate’er it might
While shearin’ for old Tom Patterson, on the One Tree Plain.

I’ve been whalin’ up the Lachlan, and I’ve dossed on Cooper’s
And once I rung Cudjingie shed, and blued it in a week.
But when Gabriel blows his trumpet, lads, I’ll catch the
morning train,
And I’ll push for old Tom Patterson’s, on the One Tree

“I’ve pinked ’em with the Wolseleys, and I’ve rushed with
B-bows, too.” — Wolseleys and B-bows are respectively
machines and hand-shears, and “pinking” means that he had
shorn the sheep so closely that the pink skin showed through.
“I rung Cudjingie shed and blued it in a week,” i.e., he was
the ringer or fastest shearer of the shed, and he dissipated
the earnings in a single week’s drunkenness.

“Whalin’ up the Lachlan.” — In the old days there was an
army of “sundowners” or professional loafers who walked
from station to station, ostensibly to look for work, but
without any idea of accepting it. These nomads often followed
up and down certain rivers, and would camp for days and
fish for cod in the bends of the river. Hence whaling up the

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