The Struggles of an Irish Immigrant in Paterson’s Australia
“Paddy Malone in Australia” follows the misadventures of an Irish immigrant trying unsuccessfully to adapt to life in the Australian bush.
The song adopts Paddy’s voice and dialect to humorously depict the hardships faced by many new settlers. We meet Paddy full of hope but out of his depth, struggling to work as a shepherd and bullock driver.
The Old Bush Songs
by Banjo Patterson
Paterson vividly captures the enormity and disorientation of the Australian landscape for newcomers like Paddy, especially the dense bush where he becomes “bothered and lost.” The imagery evokes a greenhorn overwhelmed by an alien environment.
Paddy’s naivety and inability to perform Aussie rural tasks like mustering make him an inept foil. His Irish brogue gives the mishaps an amusing lilt. Each failed job is punctuated with a refrain lamenting “Poor Paddy Malone.”
Undercutting the humor is a portrayal of Paddy’s exploitation. He is underpaid, overworked and endangered by unscrupulous squatters who view him as expendable manual labor. His mispronounced name is symbolic of how interchangeable migrants were.
So while comic in tone, the song highlights the harsh Australian reality awaiting many optimistic immigrants like Paddy. Their dreams of prosperity faced inhospitable conditions, loneliness and callous bosses. Yet Paddy’s spirit remains irrepressible – he returns home wiser to the perils of life “down under.”
In capturing Paddy’s tragicomic adventures with empathy, Paterson provides social commentary on the mistreatment of migrants who helped build colonial Australia. The song gives voices to their strivings.
PADDY MALONE IN AUSTRALIA
Och! my name’s Pat Malone, and I’m from Tipperary.
Sure, I don’t know it now I’m so bothered, Ohone!
And the gals that I danced with, light-hearted and airy,
It’s scarcely they’d notice poor Paddy Malone.
‘Tis twelve months or more since our ship she cast anchor
In happy Australia, the Emigrant’s home,
And from that day to this there’s been nothing but canker,
And grafe and vexation for Paddy Malone.
Oh, Paddy Malone! Oh, Paddy, Ohone!
Bad luck to the agent that coaxed ye to roam.
Wid a man called a squatter I soon got a place, sure,
He’d a beard like a goat, and such whiskers, Ohone!
And he said–as he peeped through the hair on his faitures–
That he liked the appearance of Paddy Malone.
Wid him I agreed to go up to his station,
Saying abroad in the bush you’ll find yourself at home.
I liked his proposal, and ‘out hesitation
Signed my name wid a X that spelt Paddy Malone.
Oh, Paddy Malone, you’re no scholard, Ohone!
Sure, I made a cris-crass that spelt Paddy Malone.
A-herding my sheep in the bush, as they call it–
It was no bush at all, but a mighty great wood,
Wid all the big trees that were small bushes one time,
A long time ago, faith I ‘spose ‘fore the flood.
To find out this big bush one day I went further,
The trees grew so thick that I couldn’t, Ohone!
I tried to go back then, but that I found harder,
And bothered and lost was poor Paddy Malone.
Oh, Paddy Malone, through the bush he did roam
What a Babe in the Wood was poor Paddy Malone.
I was soon overcome, sure, wid grafe and vexation,
And camped, you must know, by the side of a log;
I was found the next day by a man from the station,
For I coo-ey’d and roared like a bull in a bog.
The man said to me, “Arrah, Pat! where’s the sheep now?”
Says I, “I dunno! barring one here at home,”
And the master began and kicked up a big row too,
And swore he’d stop the wages of Paddy Malone.
Arrah! Paddy Malone, you’re no shepherd, Ohone!
We’ll try you with bullocks now, Paddy Malone.
To see me dressed out with my team and my dray too,
Wid a whip like a flail and such gaiters, Ohone!
But the bullocks, as they eyed me, they seemed for to say too,
“You may do your best, Paddy, we’re blest if we go.”
“Gee whoa! Redman! come hither, Damper!
Hoot, Magpie! Gee, Blackbird! Come hither,
But the brutes turned round sharp, and away they did
And heels over head turned poor Paddy Malone.
Oh, Paddy Malone! you’ve seen some bulls at home,
But the bulls of Australia cows Paddy Malone.
I was found the next day where the brutes they did throw
By a man passing by, upon hearing me groan,
And wiping the mud from my face that he knew me,
Says he, “Your name’s Paddy?” “Yes! Paddy Malone.”
I thin says to him, “You’re an angel sent down, sure!”
“No, faith, but I’m not; but a friend of your own!”
And by his persuasion, for home then I started,
And you now see before you poor Paddy Malone.
Arrah, Paddy Malone! you are now safe at home.
Bad luck to the agent that coaxed ye to roam.