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AUSTRALIAN SONGS

On The Road
To Gundagai

traditional Australian song
composer unknown

See it on You TubeOn the Road to Gundagai
sung by Slim Dusty

On the Road to Gundagai sung by Jack Davidson & His Dandies in 1938
(probably the original version)

On the Road to Gundagai
sung by James Pegler

What the words mean

  • whips and whips of rhino ~ money
  • humped our blues ~ carried our swags
  • shouldered our Matildas ~ carrying our swags
  • Gundagai ~ town located along the Murrumbidgee River 390 km south-west of Sydney, NSW. Gundagai lies within the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri speaking people.

Disaster Hits Gundagai. In 25 June 1852 a flood swept away the town of Gundagai. It killed over 25% of the population, making it one of the biggest natural disasters in Australia's history. Three Aboriginal men are credited for rescuing over 40 townspeople. The men were honoured with bronze medallions.

Oh, we started down from Roto when the sheds had all cut out,
We'd whips and whips of rhino as we meant to push about,
So we humped our blues serenely and made for Sydney town,
With a three-spot cheque between us as wanted knocking down.

But we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai! Five miles from Gundagai!
Yes, we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Oh, I've seen a lot of girls, my boys, and drunk a lot of beer,
And I've met with some of both, my boys, as left me mighty
    queer,
But for beer to knock you sideways and girls to make you sigh,
You must camp at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

In a week the spree was over and the cheque was all knocked
    down,
And we shouldered our Matildas and we turned our backs on
    town,
The girls they stood a nobbler as we sadly said good-bye,
And we tramped from Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

There are over 30 old bush songs and poems about Gundagai.

As with most songs of this era, they were never written down when they were composed, but learned and passed from person to person by what they heard. So it was inevitable that there would arise different versions of the same song.

This song should not be confused with the poem The Road to Gundagai by Banjo Paterson which is quite different or the old bush song Along the Road to Gundagai.

We also have on our website Nine Miles from Gundagai, Five Miles From Gundagai and Flash Jack From Gundagai.

That's a lot of Gundagai.

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