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They want to stop our puddling as many of you know
Contractors say that of our slush there is an overflow
But if they stop us they'll be sure to injure Bendigo
Drive on my lads, heigho, wash on my lads, heigho
For who can lead the life that we jolly puddlers do.
These blessed road contractors are trying us to crush
They say that they're impeded by our muddy dirty slush
They want to make us knock off but they'll find it is no go
Why have our escorts fallen off, the questions pray don't shirk
'Tis because it's been so dry and our machines have had no work,
'Tis puddling not quartz reefing now that keeps up Bendigo.
If you crush the puddling interest and stay the puddler's hand,
What becomes of your fine buildings here that on the township stand?
The commerce of the this district then would sink down precious low.
The winter soon is coming and our dams will then be full.
We'll run the stuff through the machines and then we'll have a pull
And it its pristine glory will shine forth Bendigo.
The days of tub and cradle, alas, alas are past,
An ounce to every tub of course, was far too good to last,
But still we get a crust for now we wash the stuff below.
When puddling ceases for all here 'twill be a bitter cup,
Heffernan and Thatcher too may both of them dry up,
And to some other diggings they both will have to go.
From The Joy Durst Memorial Australian Song Collection, published by the Victorian Folk Music Club, 1980.
The illustration to this post is from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries website, with the following caption:
A horse-driven puddling machine in Central Victoria in the 1880s. Horse puddlers processed four times more sludge than a hand puddler. They created havoc in the creeks of Central Victoria as the fine sludge they produced was the consistency of batter. This clogged up waterways, flooding towns and goldfields.