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y separately published work icon Old Australian Ballads : An Anthology anthology   poetry   children's  
Issue Details: First known date: 1967... 1967 Old Australian Ballads : An Anthology
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Collection of well known Australian songs and ballads, divided into sections based on the historical subject matter: 'Ball and Chain', 'Bail Up', 'The Roaring Days', 'Where's Your Licence?', 'Stockmen', 'Wool Away!' and 'Such is Life'.

The sections - and some of the individual works - are prefaced with educational introductions by the editor explaining historical context as well as terms and concepts.


  • Editor's note: 'This little book has been compiled in the hope that it will lead young people towards a closer acquaintance with, and a better understanding and appreciation of, the Australian ballad. Although it has been planned with a special eye on senior primary pupils, those at more advanced stages of schooling may well find it interesting and rewarding.'

    (From 'Preface and Acknowledgements')


* Contents derived from the Sydney, New South Wales,:School Projects , 1967 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Botany Bay I Botany Bayi"Farewell to old England for ever,", single work poetry (p. 7-8)
Jim Jones Jim Jones at Botany Bayi"O listen for a moment, lads, and hear me tell my tale,", single work poetry (p. 8-9)
Note: With title: Jim Jones.
Vinegar Hilli"No busy birds called from the road-edging scrub;", W. N. Walker , single work poetry (p. 10-11)
Seizure of the Cyprus Brig in Recherche Bay, Aug. 1829i"Come all you sons of Freedom, a chorus join with me,", Frank the Poet , single work poetry (p. 12-13)
Note: With title: Seizure of the 'Cyprus Brig'.
Moreton Bayi"One Sunday morning as I went walking, by Brisbane waters I chanced to stray;", single work poetry (p. 14-15)
The Wild Colonial Boyi"'Tis of a wild Colonial boy, Jack Doolan was his name", single work poetry

'The Wild Colonial Boy' is a traditional Irish/Australian ballad of which there are many different versions. It has been argued that the original version was really about Jack Donahoe (variously spelled Donahoo or Donahue), an Irish transport who arrived at Sydney Cove in 1825, and was subsequently convicted of highway robbery and sentenced to death. He escaped and waged a guerrilla war against the wealthy for more than two years in the country around Sydney. On September 1st 1830 he was ambushed by a police party near Cambelltown and shot dead, his companions Webber and Warmsley escaping into the bush. This version was eventually outlawed as seditious so the name of the protagonist changed.

The resulting Irish version is about a young emigrant, named Jack Duggan, who left the town of Castlemaine, County Kerry, Ireland, for Australia in the 1800s. According to the song (and in keeping with the true story of Jack Donahoe), he spent his time there 'robbing from the rich to feed the poor'. In the song, the protagonist is fatally wounded in an ambush when his heart is pierced by the bullet of Fitzroy.

The Australian version has Jack Doolan (or sometimes Jack Dowling) as the protagonist, and here Castlemaine refers to the Australian town in Victoria. In both versions variation in the wording and language occurs across different sources.

In his Old Bush Songs, Banjo Patterson wrote: "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." This chorus, included in some (not all) Australian versions is as follows:

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 chains.

(p. 16-17)
Note: Missing the first verse, and with first line: When scarcely sixteen years of age, Jack left his father's home,
The Betrayal of Ben Hall The Death of Ben Halli"Ben Hall was out on the Lachlan side", Will H. Ogilvie , single work poetry (p. 18-19)
Note: With title: The Betrayal of Ben Hall.
Morgani"When Morgan crossed the Murray to Peechelba and doom", Edward Harrington , single work poetry (p. 21-22)
Wolf and Houndi"You'll take my tale with a little salt;", Adam Lindsay Gordon , single work poetry (p. 23-26)
Ned Kelly's Last Standi"Next day at Glenrowan, how dreadful the doom", extract poetry (p. 27)
Look Out Below!i"A young man left his native shores,", Charles Thatcher , single work poetry (p. 28-29)
Dick the Diggeri"Dick the digger had pitched him a tent", single work poetry (p. 30-31)
Where's Your Licence?i"The morning was fine,", Charles Thatcher , single work poetry (p. 32-33)
Note: 'The miners bitterly resented the law requiring them to hold a licence - commonly referred to as "The Miner's Right" - to dig for gold and invariably met with hostility the policeman's question "Where's your licence?"' (From preface to work in Old Australian Ballads).
The Overlanderi"There's a trade you all know well -", single work poetry (p. 34)
How the Sailor Rode the Brumbyi"He was an agile sailor man,", Edward S. Sorenson , single work poetry humour (p. 35-37)
The Sick Stock-Rider The Sick Stockrideri"Hold hard, Ned! lift me down once more, and lay me in the shade,", Adam Lindsay Gordon , single work poetry (p. 38-41)
Waltzing Matilda "Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong," Waltzing Matilda : Carrying a Swagi"Oh! there once was a swagman camped in the billabong,", A. B. Paterson , single work poetry (p. 45)
Note: With first line: There was a jolly swagman, camping by a billabong,
The Eumeralla Shorei"There's a happy little valley on the Eumeralla shore,", single work poetry (p. 46)
Note: With title: The Eumarella Shore.
Stringy Bark and Green Hidei"I sing of a commodity, it's one that will not fail yer,", George Chanson , single work poetry (p. 46-[47])

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Alternative title: Australian Scene : Australian Ballads
Last amended 19 Mar 2009 15:17:56