All photographs on this page are © Tracy Bennett Photography
I MET her on the Lachlan Side —
A darling girl I thought her,
And ere I left I swore I'd win
The free-selector's daughter.
I milked her father's cows a month,
I brought the wood and water,
I mended all the broken fence,
Before I won the daughter.
I listened to her father's yarns,
I did just what I ‘oughter’,
And what you'll have to do to win
A free-selector's daughter.
I broke my pipe and burnt my twist,
And washed my mouth with water;
I had a shave before I kissed
The free-selector's daughter.
Then, rising in the frosty morn,
I brought the cows for Mary,
And when I'd milked a bucketful
I took it to the dairy.
I poured the milk into the dish
While Mary held the strainer,
I summoned heart to speak my wish,
And, oh! her blush grew plainer.
I told her I must leave the place,
I said that I would miss her;
At first she turned away her face,
And then she let me kiss her.
I put the bucket on the ground,
And in my arms I caught her:
I'd give the world to hold again
That free-selector's daughter!
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, ‘Excuse me, can you ride?’
‘See, here, young man,’ said Mulga Bill, ‘from Walgett to the sea,
‘From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
‘I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
‘Although I'm not the one to talk — I hate a man that blows.
‘But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
‘Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wild cat can it fight.
‘There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
‘There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
‘But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
‘I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight.’
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'red gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope, towards the Dead Man's Creek.
It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, ‘I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
‘I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five pound bet,
‘But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
‘I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it's shaken all my nerve
‘To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
‘It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
‘A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill.’
Weary and listless, sad and slow,
Without any conversation,
Was a man that worked on The Overflow,
The butt of the shed and the station.
The shearers christened him Noisy Ned,
With an alias “Silent Waters,”
But never a needless word he said
In the hut or the shearers' quarters.
Which caused annoyance to Big Barcoo,
The shed's unquestioned ringer,
Whose name was famous Australia through
As a dancer, fighter and singer.
He was fit for the ring, if he'd had his rights
As an agent of devastation;
And the number of men he had killed in fights
Was his principal conversation.
“I have known blokes go to their doom,” said he,
“Through actin' with haste and rashness:
But the style that this Noisy Ned assumes,
It's nothing but silent flashness.
“We may just be dirt, from his point of view,
Unworthy a word in season;
But I'll make him talk like a cockatoo
Or I'll get him to show the reason.”
Was it chance or fate, that King Condamine,
A king who had turned a black tracker,
Had captured a baby purcupine,
Which he swapped for a “fig tobacker” ?
With the porcupine in the Silent's bed
The shearers were quite elated,
And the things to be done, and the words to be said,
Were anxiously awaited.
With a screech and a howl and an eldritch cry
That nearly deafened his hearers
He sprang from his bunk, and his fishy eye
Looked over the laughing shearers.
He looked them over and he looked them through
As a cook might look through a larder;
“Now, Big Barcoo, I must pick on you,
You're big, but you'll fall the harder.”
Now, the silent man was but slight and thin
And of middleweight conformation,
But he hung one punch on the Barcoo's chin
And it ended the altercation.
“You've heard of the One-round Kid,” said he,
“That hunted 'em all to shelter?
The One-round Finisher — that was me,
When I fought as the Champion Welter.
“And this Barcoo bloke on his back reclines
For being a bit too clever,
For snakes and wombats and porcupines
Are nothing to me whatever.
“But the golden rule that I've had to learn
In the ring, and for years I've tried it,
Is only to talk when it comes your turn,
And never to talk outside it.”
We own a dog, his name is Jim,
And nobody gets the best of him.
One day when walking down the town,
The dog was kicked by Jenkins Brown.
Jim made no fuss, but he was riled,
Although he merely looked and smiled.
Now when the policeman came around
Our Jim was nowhere to be found.
“Had we a dog, and pay the cost?”
We said our dog was lately lost.
And so the policeman went away
And called on Jenkins Brown next day.
“Had he a dog?” He swore he'd not
When Jim appeared upon the spot
And jumped around and licked his hand
To let the policeman understand.
When Jim saw Brown had paid the fine
He came back home with us to dine.
That's how we saved our half-a-crown
And Jim got level with Jenkins Brown!
It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,
He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.
He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop,
Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber's shop.
‘'Ere! shave my beard and whiskers off, I'll be a man of mark,
‘I'll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.’
The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,
He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar:
He was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,
He laid the odds and kept a ‘tote’, whatever that may be,
And when he saw our friend arrive, he whispered ‘Here's a lark!
Just watch me catch him all alive, this man from Ironbark.’
There were some gilded youths that sat along the barber's wall,
Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;
To them the barber passed the wink, his dexter eyelid shut,
‘I'll make this bloomin' yokel think his bloomin' throat is cut.’
And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark:
‘I s'pose the flats is pretty green up there in Ironbark.’
A grunt was all reply he got; he shaved the bushman's chin,
Then made the water boiling hot and dipped the razor in.
He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,
Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim's throat;
Upon the newly shaven skin it made a livid mark —
No doubt it fairly took him in — the man from Ironbark.
He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear,
And though his throat, he knew full well, was cut from ear to ear,
He struggled gamely to his feet, and faced the murd'rous foe:
‘You've done for me! you dog, I'm beat! one hit before I go!
‘I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark!
‘But you'll remember all your life, the man from Ironbark.’
He lifted up his hairy paw, with one tremendous clout
He landed on the barber's jaw, and knocked the barber out.
He set to work with tooth and nail, he made the place a wreck;
He grabbed the nearest gilded youth, and tried to break his neck.
And all the while his throat he held to save his vital spark,
And ‘Murder! Bloody Murder!’ yelled the man from Ironbark.
A peeler man who heard the din came in to see the show;
He tried to run the bushman in, but he refused to go.
And when at last the barber spoke, and said, ‘'Twas all in fun —
‘'Twas just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone.’
‘A joke!’ he cried, ‘By George, that's fine; a lively sort of lark;
‘I'd like to catch that murdering swine some night in Ironbark.’
And now while round the shearing floor the list'ning shearers gape,
He tells the story o'er and o'er, and brags of his escape.
‘Them barber chaps what keeps a tote, By George, I've had enough,
‘One tried to cut my bloomin' throat, but thank the Lord it's tough.’
And whether he's believed or no, there's one thing to remark,
That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.