Those Names by Banjo Paterson

Those Names by Banjo Paterson

Ode to the Outback – Analyzing ‘Those Names’ by Banjo Paterson

In ‘Those Names,’ Banjo Paterson celebrates the Australian bush and outback place names with good-humored rivalry between regions. Through the casual banter of shearers, Paterson explores national identity, mateship, and the vastness of the country.

We are drawn into the shearers’ camaraderie as they relax after work playing cards and jesting. Paterson affectionately describes the varied backgrounds of these bushworkers. Their lighthearted game of competing to name the most absurd outback locations allows Paterson to showcase quintessential Australian language.

The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses by Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson - Book Cover

The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses

by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

The rollcall of improbable names conveys a sense of identity rooted in the remote landscape. Each region tries to outdo the others in absurdity and length of their location names from memory.

Paterson revels in the colloquial names dotted across this wide land, from the “bleak Monaro” to the “western districts.” The place names form part of Australians’ shared national heritage.

By good-naturedly ribbing each other’s home regions, the shearers engage in the great Aussie tradition of friendly rivalry. Paterson captures the egalitarian spirit and irreverent humor of these workers.

Though simple in structure, ‘Those Names’ offers a playful ode to Australian diversity and the bush. Paterson affectionately depicts national pride and unity emanating from the vast rural heartland.

Those Names

The shearers sat in the firelight, hearty and hale and strong,
After the hard day’s shearing, passing the joke along:
The `ringer’ that shore a hundred, as they never were shorn before,
And the novice who, toiling bravely, had tommy-hawked half a score,
The tarboy, the cook, and the slushy, the sweeper that swept the board,
The picker-up, and the penner, with the rest of the shearing horde.
There were men from the inland stations
where the skies like a furnace glow,
And men from the Snowy River, the land of the frozen snow;
There were swarthy Queensland drovers who reckoned all land by miles,
And farmers’ sons from the Murray, where many a vineyard smiles.
They started at telling stories when they wearied of cards and games,
And to give these stories a flavour they threw in some local names,
And a man from the bleak Monaro, away on the tableland,
He fixed his eyes on the ceiling, and he started to play his hand.

He told them of Adjintoothbong, where the pine-clad mountains freeze,
And the weight of the snow in summer breaks branches off the trees,
And, as he warmed to the business, he let them have it strong —
Nimitybelle, Conargo, Wheeo, Bongongolong;
He lingered over them fondly, because they recalled to mind
A thought of the old bush homestead, and the girl that he left behind.
Then the shearers all sat silent till a man in the corner rose;
Said he, `I’ve travelled a-plenty but never heard names like those.
Out in the western districts, out on the Castlereagh
Most of the names are easy — short for a man to say.

You’ve heard of Mungrybambone and the Gundabluey pine, Quobbotha, Girilambone, and Terramungamine, Quambone, Eunonyhareenyha, Wee Waa, and Buntijo –‘ But the rest of the shearers stopped him: For the sake of your jaw, go slow,
If you reckon those names are short ones out where such names prevail,
Just try and remember some long ones before you begin the tale.’
And the man from the western district, though never a word he said,
Just winked with his dexter eyelid, and then he retired to bed.

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