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AUSTRALIAN SONGS

The Plains
Of Riverine

traditional Aussie song,
composer unknown

What the words mean

  • “will pay the pound.” ~ pound a hundred is the price for shearing sheep.
  • “take no topknots off this year nor trim them to the toes.” ~ the shearers plan to leave the wool topknots on the head and the wool down on the legs.
  • “To steer sixteen” ~ there are sixteen horses in the team.

I have come to tell you of the glorious news you’ll all be glad to bear,
Of the pleasant alterations that are taking place this year.
So kindly pay attention, and I’ll pass the whisper round,
The squatters of their own free will this year will pay the pound.

For this is a year of great prosperity, that everybody knows,
We’ll take no top knots off this year, nor trim them to the toes,
But a level cut for a level pound, and the rations thrown in free.
That’s how the squatters say they’ll keep their Sovereign’s Jubilee.

And kind Providence once more has sent the sweet, refreshing rains.
The trefoil and the barley grass wave high upon the plains,
The tanks all overflowing and the saltbush fresh and green,
It’s a pleasure for to ramble o’er the plains of Riverine.

Once more upon the rippling lake the wild swan flaps her wing.
Out in the lignum swamps once more frogs croak and crickets sing.
Once more the wild fowl, sporting midst the crab-holes, may be seen,
For prosperity is hovering o’er the plains of Riverine.

Yes, ’twill be a year of full and plenty for those back-block pioneers,
Though behind each scrub and saltbush you can spot the bunny’s ears;
And although the price for scalps is not so high as it has been,
Yet the bunny snappers they will thrive on the plains of Riverine.

You should see the jolly teamsters how with joy their faces beam,
As they talk about the crowfoot, carrots, crab-holes, and their team.
They tell you that this year they do intend to steer sixteen.
They’ll show the “cockies” how to plough the plains of Riverine.

Yes, in more respects than one it is a year of joy and glee,
And the news of our prosperity has crossed the briny sea.
Once more the Maorilander and the Tassey will be seen
Cooking Johnny cakes and jimmies on the plains of Riverine.

They will gather like a regiment to the beating of the drum,
But it matters not to us from whence our future penmates come.
From New Zealand’s snow-clad summits or Tasmania’s meadows green,
We’ll always make them welcome on the plains of Riverine.

Down from her rocky peaks Monaro will send her champions bold;
Victoria will send her “cockies,” too, her honour to uphold.
They’ll be here from Cunnamulla, and the rolling downs between,
For this is the real convincing ground, these plains of Riverine.

I have a message to deliver now, before I say farewell,
Some news which all the squatters have commissioned me to tell;
Your backs well bent, bows long and clean, that’s what they want to see,
That your tallies may do you credit in this year of Jubilee.

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