The Drovers Dream

'Austarlian Animals' from
The New Student's Reference Work, 1914

This amusing little ditty and zoology lesson is another Australian bush ballad that I learned from the singing of A. L. Lloyd. It is one of many variants. The song likely derives from a poem appearing in The Kadina and Walleroo Times in 1889, called 'Visions of a Night Watch sent in by "C. J. 0. S" of New South Wales.

"Bold Jack Donahue" refers to a well known Australian bad man ballad. Maybe I'll sing it here by and by. I've replaced "laughing jackass" with "Kookaburra" which may be more recognizable to American audiences who might have learned to sing "Kookaburra Up in the Old Gum Tree, merry, merry King of the bush is he.", as I did in elementary school music class. "Native bear" is a koala. I've heard it sung both ways.


I was travelling with the sheep, oh me mates was fast asleep,
No moon nor stars were shining in the sky,
I was dousing, I suppose, but me eyes had hardly closed
When a very strange procession passed me by:

First there came the kangaroo with his swag of blankets blue,
He had with him a dingo for a mate.
They were travelling pretty fast when they waved to me as they passed,
And said, “We've got to be pushing on, it's getting late.”

Then three frogs from out the swamp, where the atmosphere was damp,
Came up and gingerly sat down on the stones.
They unrolled their little swags and took from their diddely bags
A violin, a banjo and the bones.

And the little bandicoot played a tune upon his flute,
Three native bears came down and formed a ring.
And the pelican and the crane, they flew in from the plain,
And amused the company with a Highland fling.

Oh, the parrots green and blue sang Bold Jack Donahue,
The frilly lizards waltzed round with a smile.
When from out the old she-oak the kookaburra spoke:
“And spare me happy days, they ran a mile.”

And the emu standing near with his claw up to his ear
Sang, “Rocked in the cradle of the deep.”
I was underneath the cart, the boss he woke me with a start,
Saying, “Clancey, where the hell are the flamin' sheep?”