The Wild Colonial Boy By Banjo Paterson

Paterson’s Fictionalized Tribute to a Bushranger

This folk ballad celebrates the life of a notorious Australian bushranger Jack Doolan, known as the “Wild Colonial Boy.”

Paterson romanticizes the outlaw as a daring heroic figure who robbed from the wealthy and mighty. His acts of defiance against authority are presented as bold and adventurous.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

The rhetoric about scornfully resisting “slavery” casts Doolan as an irrepressible underdog fighting oppressive forces. Descriptions of his carefree bush wandering give him swashbuckling appeal.

But Paterson also movingly depicts Doolan’s death in a blaze of glory that cements his legend. The shared chorus linking him to fellow folk hero Bold Jack Donahoo strengthens his mythic status.

While fictionalized, Paterson’s portrait encapsulates the rebel spirit embodied in bushranger lore. His lyrical account transforms Doolan into an enigmatic antihero.

So “The Wild Colonial Boy” uses vivid imagery and campfire rhythms to romanticize an outlaw fugitive as a uniquely Australian folk legend. Paterson celebrates the defiance and frontier ethos that the bushranger came to symbolize.


‘Tis of a wild Colonial boy, Jack Doolan was his name,
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine.
He was his father’s only hope, his mother’s only joy,
And dearly did his parents love the wild Colonial boy.


Come, all my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high,
Together we will plunder, together we will die.
We’ll wander over valleys, and gallop over plains,
And we’ll scorn to live in slavery, bound down with iron

He was scarcely sixteen years of age when he left his father’s
And through Australia’s sunny clime a bushranger did roam.
He robbed those wealthy squatters, their stock he did
And a terror to Australia was the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus: Come, all my hearties, &c.

In sixty-one this daring youth commenced his wild career,
With a heart that knew no danger, no foeman did he fear.
He stuck up the Beechworth mail coach, and robbed Judge
Who trembled, and gave up his gold to the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus: Come, all my hearties, &c.

He bade the Judge “Good morning,” and told him to beware,
That he’d never rob a hearty chap that acted on the square,
And never to rob a mother of her son and only joy,
Or else you may turn outlaw, like the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus: Come, all my hearties, &c.

One day as he was riding the mountain side along,
A-listening to the little birds, their pleasant laughing song,
Three mounted troopers rode along–Kelly, Davis, and
They thought that they would capture him–the wild
Colonial boy.

Chorus: Come, all my hearties, &c.

“Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you see there’s three to one.
Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you daring highwayman.”
He drew a pistol from his belt, and shook the little toy.
“I’ll fight, but not surrender,” said the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus: Come, all my hearties, &c.

He fired at Trooper Kelly, and brought him to the ground,
And in return from Davis received a mortal wound.
All shattered through the jaws he lay still firing at FitzRoy,
And that’s the way they captured him–the wild Colonial

Chorus: Come, all my hearties, &c.

It will be noticed that the same chorus is sung to both
“The Wild Colonial Boy” and “Bold Jack Donahoo.”
Several versions of both songs were sent in, but the same
chorus was always made to do duty for both songs.

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