Apr 072020

Folk music and folk songs take special pride, representing each and every countries culture, tradition, and heritage. The traditional music is well-known for its story telling regardless of musicality and instrumentation.

Australian folk music and songs have been created as unified genres by enthusiasts, activists, and performers during the early years of Australian colonization. There are many traditional Australian folk songs that tell Australian history and folklore, representing Australia’s relationship to folk music. Folk music in Australia is referred as traditional music emerged from a large variety of immigrant cultures and original Australian inhabitants.   

About Nine Miles from Gundagai

The following information about the Australian Classic Folk Song, “Nine Miles from Gundagai” is collected based on the article published in a bulletin on May 5 1938 by ‘EI V’. So the article says, Jack Moses is a wine saleman by profession and travels throughout Australia to make good sales out of his wine business. Eventually, he became very familiar and a prominent figure because of his friendliness and willingness to recite his own songs in his own versions. ‘Nine Miles from Gundagai’ is the best known Australian folk song from Jack Moses. The song appears in the first edition of the book titled the same name in 1938 as the first entry. After fifty years, the song, ‘Nine Miles from Gundagai is included in the ‘Songs’ section. Over time, the song has become popular tremendously with its meaningful lyrics and also honoured with a statue erected on the road outside Gundagai, showing a dog on a teamster’s tucker box, unveiled by the Prime Minister Joe Lyons in 1932. Since ever the statue is erected, it has become a popular tourist attraction. Later on many versions of songs and poems have written by great Australian writers and till date there are over 30 old bush traditional songs and poems about Gundagai.

What does the words mean in the song?

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.

Here are the original lyrics and version of original Australian folk song, Nine Miles to Gundagai…Have a look and enjoy!!

I’m used to punching bullock teams across the hills and plains

I’ve teamed outback these forty years in blazing droughts and rains

I’ve lived a heap of troubles down without a blooming lie

But I can’t forget what happened to me nine miles from Gundagai

Twas getting dark the team got bogged the axel snapped in two

I lost my matches and my pipe ah what was I to do

The rain came on twas bitter cold and hungry too was I

And the dog sat in the tucker box nine miles from Gundagai

Some blokes I know have stacks of luck no matter how they fall

But there was I lord luvva duck no blessed luck at all

I couldn’t make a pot of tea nor get my trousers dry

And the dog sat in the tucker box nine miles from Gundagai

I can forgive the blinking team I can forgive the rain

I can forgive the dark and cold and go through it again

I can forgive my rotten luck but hang me till I die

I can’t forgive that blooming dog nine miles from Gundagai

But that’s all dead and past and gone I’ve sold the team for meat

And where I got the bullocks bogged now there is an asphalt street

The dog ah well he took a bait and reckoned he would die

I buried him in that tucker box nine miles from Gundagai

Nine miles from Gundagai, has many versions of this traditional Australian Jingle, in which some are defective and some are not claimed for any authorship. Here I have included another new and up-to-date version of the song, which you may found more pleasing and interesting!!

I’ve had a crack at cutting cane, bush felling and all that,

I’ve crossed Australia’s thirsty wastes, its saltbush plains and hills;

I’ve over-landed in my time from Broome to Ballarat,

I’ve punched a team of bullocks where the Murrumbidgee spills.

Now that reminds me, cobber, how I once did nearly cry;

My dog sat on the tucker box, on strike, near Gundagai.

The torrents poured for forty days till ev’ry hole and stream

Were filled and over-flowing where the Murray’s feeders drain;

The waters surged around me and my hefty bullock team,

Though I flogged them with my stock-whip while I cursed with might, and main,

My dog refused to help me, I couldn’t reason why

He squatted on the tucker box, nine miles from Gundagai.

The wheels above their axles were all bogging in the mire,

The shatters squelching to the hips were floundering in the sludge;

“Gol darn the engineer” I roared, “And chairman of the Shire,”

As up and down I urged them on but never would they budge,

Old Baldy on his haunches gasped and blinked a bleary eye,

My dog sat on the tucker box nine miles from Gundagai.

Its many years since that occurred, the bullocks that survived.

Were fattened for the butchers’ shops and sold, you bet as prime;

For Swift’s and Borthwick’s freezers had not in those days arrived.

And with the cheque I bolted to a more congenial clime.

The dog, ah! well, he had his day, on this you may rely,

He’s buried in the tucker box nine miles from Gundagai.

All lives are full of troubles, and no human beings escape,

Some break their necks in aeroplanes and some are wrecked at sea;

And I’ve had multitudes of trials of ev’ry sort and shape,

But bogged that day, I’d like if you would try to picture me!

The earth a mighty morass while loud thunder rends the sky,

My dog sits on the tucker box nine miles from Gundagai.

Old Gundagai is quite a town, and growing very fast,

Towards that spot where tragedy was get for me by fate,

I’ve heard it said a monument will soon for us be cast,

To represent that struggle where a dog turned down his mate.

In solid bronze we’ll face the world all storms and stress defy,

This bloke, the dog and bullocks, will be right in Gundagai.


From the Queensland Newpaper the The Northern Miner 8 Jul 1931

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