Paterson’s Amusing Lens on Station Hierarchies
Adopting the voice of a station worker, Paterson satirizes the arrogant yet naïve behavior of “jackaroos” – young men from affluent families seeking to learn the pastoral business but often holding misguided ambitions.
Through amusing bush imagery, Paterson mocks jackaroos who put on airs, boast of connections, and undermine workers to impress bosses, all while lacking skills. The pretentious name “Jimmy Sago” epitomizes this.
The Old Bush Songs
by Banjo Patterson
References to jackaroos incompetently hunting marsupials and donning paper collars poke fun at their cluelessness about station living and desperate attempts to seem superior.
Paterson implies their insider aspirations, like becoming a squatter, are delusional without the grit to succeed in the harsh landscape. He prophesizes these puffed-up novices will end up “humping bluey” if their ambitions backfire.
So while lighthearted, “Jimmy Sago” provides insightful social commentary on class tensions between laborers and privileged pastoral newcomers. Paterson deflate egos with satirical exaggeration and empathetic humor.
JIMMY SAGO, JACKAROO
(Air: “Wearing of the Green.”)
If you want a situation, I’ll just tell you the plan
To get on to a station, I am just your very man.
Pack up the old portmanteau, and label it Paroo,
With a name aristocratic–Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
When you get on to the station, of small things you’ll make
And in speaking of the station, mind, it’s we, and ours, and
Boast of your grand connections and your rich relations, too
And your own great expectations, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
They will send you out on horseback, the boundaries to ride
But run down a marsupial and rob him of his hide,
His scalp will fetch a shilling and his hide another two,
Which will help to fill your pockets, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
Yes, to fill your empty pockets, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
When the boss wants information, on the men you’ll do a
And don a paper collar on your fifteen bob a week.
Then at the lamb-marking a boss they’ll make of you.
Now that’s the way to get on, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
A squatter in the future I’ve no doubt you may be,
But if the banks once get you, they’ll put you up a tree.
To see you humping bluey, I know, would never do,
‘Twould mean good-bye to our new chum, Jimmy Sago,
Yes, good-bye to our new chum, Jimmy Sago, Jackaroo.
A “Jackaroo” is a young man who comes to a station to
get experience. He occupies a position much like that of an
apprentice on a ship, and has to work with the men though
supposed to be above them in social status. Hence these
sneers at the Jackaroo.