The Murrumbidgee Shearer by Banjo Paterson

Adopting the voice of an aging rural worker, Paterson recounts his adventures and misadventures across various Australian regions and occupations.

With wry humor, the shearer describes swaggering through the bush pilfering food, drink and money when between jobs. His exaggerated criminal exploits evoke the roguish spirit of itinerant life.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

References to outsmarting police and other authority figures play up daring independence. But grim turns like desperate hunger and imprisonment add fleeting gravity.

Overall, Paterson romanticizes the shearer as a lovable scoundrel who lives by his wits and charms. The rich rangy verse captures the highs and lows of wandering workers before Australia became more regulated.

So while largely mythologizing, “The Murrumbidgee Shearer” offers a glimpse into the unpredictable freedom and hazards of rural nomads. Paterson celebrates their daring individualism as part of the nation’s folklore.


Come, all you jolly natives, and I’ll relate to you
Some of my observations–adventures, too, a few.
I’ve travelled about the country for miles, full many a score,
And oft-times would have hungered, but for the cheek I bore.

I’ve coasted on the Barwon–low down the Darling, too,
I’ve been on the Murrumbidgee, and out on the Paroo;
I’ve been on all the diggings, boys, from famous Ballarat;
I’ve loafed upon the Lachlan and fossicked Lambing Flat.

I went up to a squatter, and asked him for a feed,
But the knowledge of my hunger was swallowed by his
He said I was a loafer and for work had no desire,
And so, to do him justice, I set his shed on fire.

Oh, yes, I’ve touched the shepherd’s hut, of sugar, tea, and
And a tender bit of mutton I always could devour.
I went up to a station, and there I got a job;
Plunged in the store, and hooked it, with a very tidy lob.

Oh, yes, my jolly dandies, I’ve done it on the cross.
Although I carry bluey now, I’ve sweated many a horse.
I’ve helped to ease the escort of many’s the ounce of gold;
The traps have often chased me, more times than can be told.

Oh, yes, the traps have chased me, been frightened of their
They never could have caught me, they feared my cure for
And well they knew I carried it, which they had often seen
A-glistening in my flipper, chaps, a patent pill machine.

I’ve been hunted like a panther into my mountain lair.
Anxiety and misery my grim companions there.
I’ve planted in the scrub, my boys, and fed on kangaroo,
And wound up my avocations by ten years on Cockatoo.

So you can understand, my boys, just from this little rhyme,
I’m a Murrumbidgee shearer, and one of the good old time.

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