Australian traditional music has a dearth of love songs, but here is one from our home state of Queensland. The English folk singer and collector A.L. Lloyd wrote about this song:
"Throughout the fifty years from 1820 to 1870, broadside printers in London, Newcastle, Dublin and elsewhere did a good trade with the stall-ballad called 'Banks of the Nile', a song from the Napoleonic Wars. The song spread to America and Australia, and in Queensland it became parodied as The Banks of the Condamine, with the hero no longer a soldier but a horsebreaker or a shearer. It has turned up in sundry shapes, to various tunes, many times over, mostly in Queensland."
Oh hark, the dogs are barking, I can no longer stay;
The men have all gone mustering, and it is nearly day.
And I must be off my morning light before the sun shines,
To meet the Roma shearers on the banks of the Condamine.
Oh Willy, dearest Willy, oh let me go with you!
I'll cut off all my auburn fringe, and be a shearer too.
I'll cook, and count your tally, love, while ringer-o you shine,
And I'll wash your greasy moleskins on the banks of the Condamine.
Oh Nancy, dearest Nancy, with me you cannot go!
The squatters gave us orders, no woman should do so,
And your delicate constitution is not equal to mine,
To withstand the constant tigering on the banks of the Condamine.
Oh Willy, dearest Willy, then stay at home with me!
We'll take a vast selection, and a farmer's wife I'll be.
I'll help you husk the corn, love, and cook your meals so fine.
You'll forget the taste of mutton on the banks of the Condamine.
Oh Nancy, dearest Nancy, please do not hold me back!
Down there the boys are waiting, and I must be on the track.
So here's a goodbye kiss, love; back home I will incline,
When we've shorn the last of the jumbucks on the banks of the Condamine.
from To Lawsons Joy,
released January 26, 2014
Engineered by Bryce Moorhead.
Produced by Bryce Moorhead and Steve Towson.
Steve Towson (vocals, guitar), Ness Glenn (vocals, recorder).
Profile photo by Staples. Banner art by TB (Mr. T + MC.T + WHO).