Stockmen and drovers, known as 'overlanders', took pride in the work they did. It took skill to drive cattle and sheep in search of water and good pasture.
This pride and desire for the rugged life is expressed in many Aussie songs including this one.
What the words mean
- Gum tree ~ popular name for eucalyptus trees.
- "jackass laughs" ~ does not mean a donkey or stupid person. Instead it refers to a bird called the Laughing Kookaburra.
This bird gets its name for its "laugh" which it uses to establish territory. You'll hear a low chuckle followed by raucous laughter. If there are any other kookaburras around, it can get quite noisy as they compete.
See also Flash Stockman
Stockman's Last Bed • Dying Stockman
A bright sun and a loosened rein,
A whip whose pealing sound
Rings forth amid the forest trees
As merrily forth we bound —
As merrily forth we bound, my boys,
And, by the dawn’s pale light,
Speed fearless on our horses true
From morn till starry night.
“Oh! for a tame and quiet herd,”
I hear some crawler cry;
But give to me the mountain mob
With the flash of their tameless eye —
With the flash of their tameless eye, my boys,
As down the rugged spur
Dash the wild children of the woods,
And the horse that mocks at fear.
There’s mischief in you wide-horned steer,
There’s danger in you cow;
Then mount, my merry horsemen all,
The wild mob’s bolting now —
The wild mob’s bolting now, my boys,
But ’twas never in their hides
To show the way to the well-trained nags
That are rattling by their sides.
Oh! ’tis jolly to follow the roving herd
Through the long, long summer day,
And camp at night by some lonely creek
When dies the golden ray.
Where the jackass laughs in the old gum tree,
And our quart-pot tea we sip;
The saddle was our childhood’s home,
Our heritage the whip.