The Free Selector By Banjo Paterson

This folk ballad celebrates the opportunities for land ownership opened up by the Selection Acts in Australia, particularly the Robertson Land Act of 1861.

Adopting the voice of a selector, Paterson expresses joy over the liberating chance for working class people to own and farm small plots of land. The rhetoric glorifies self-sufficiency and industry free from oppressive wealthy pastoralists.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

Vivid rural images evoke the pastoral dreams selection made possible – building homes by the waterside, planting gardens, raising families together through shared labor.

References to long being denied such rights by ruling powers underscores the significance for disadvantaged Australians. Land access was seen as enabling dignity and independence.

While the idealistic hopes would prove difficult to achieve, Paterson captures the moment’s sense of possibility and justice for the “working man.” His upbeat lyrics and tributes to politician John Robertson reveal strong support for the reforms.

So “The Free Selector” provides an insight into the profound impact of land reforms through the eyes of aspiring selectors. Their voice of optimism and liberation expresses the ideals of the “selection” movement Paterson endorsed.


(A Song of 1861.)

Ye sons of industry, to you I belong,
And to you I would dedicate a verse or a song,
Rejoicing o’er the victory John Robertson has won
Now the Land Bill has passed and the good time has come
Now the Land Bill, &c.

No more with our swags through the bush need we roam
For to ask of another there to give us a home,
Now the land is unfettered and we may reside
In a home of our own by some clear waterside.
In a home of our own, &c.

On some fertile spot which we may call our own,
Where the rich verdure grows, we will build up a home.
There industry will flourish and content will smile,
While our children rejoicing will share in our toil.
While our children, &c.

We will plant our garden and sow our own field,
And eat from the fruits which industry will yield,
And be independent, what we long for have strived,
Though those that have ruled us the right long denied.
Though those that have ruled us, &c.

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