making our life special



traditional Australian song
composer unknown

What the words mean

  • squatter ~ a grazier or station (ranch) owner especially with a large landholding. Today squatter means a person illegally occupying a property.
  • bushranger ~ outlaw in colonial days who made the bush his hideout.
  • workhouse ~ place where people who were unable to support themselves could go to live and work. Overall they were places of dread to the labouring and indigent poor.
  • cockatoo ~ in this context, it's slang for farmer. (cockie for short)

As I rode down the Melbourne road 'twas only the other
I saw a board stuck in a field and 'twas a gentle warning;
I read it then and with surprise I to the spot was rooted,
For it said that trespassers would be had up and prosecuted.

Thinks I, one of these 'cockatoos' has bought the land for farming,
And so to bounce us he puts up this notice so alarming;
No doubt he's some chap who at home has been had up for
And, tit for tat, he means to keep the public from encroaching.

Look at Australia, and behold increasing immigration
You'll find a wondrous mania exists for imitation;
The English prejudices we copy to the letter;
But as regards some things, I own, 'tis hard, perhaps, to do better.

At the bare idea of railways the squatters used to laugh;
But they're in quick formation and we've got the telegraph;
Bushrangers now will shortly find those blessed wires have sold
And Victoria be rendered soon by far too hot to hold them.

A great colonial workhouse will, no doubt, shortly follow,
To beat the one at Mary bone or famed Whitechapel hollow;
Where loafers can pick oakum and the women use the needle,
And the next innovation then may be a gold-laced beadle.

Delinquents that, at present, are a set of jolly dogs,
Won't be allowed to spend their tin so idly in the logs;
The Brixton dodge they'll introduce to give defaulters pepper;
And the next step for the common 'weal' will doubtless be the

When'er the treadmill they apply to these colonial towns,
The folks when writing home can talk about their ups and downs;
Should you e'er take this exercise here's good advice to all
Be particular to choose the side that's nearest to the wall.

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