Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Rabbiter's Song.




Stan Wakefield





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I read about the fortunes that the rabbiters make outback -
The sporting life and the lairy tales of prices fetched at Sydney sales,
So I started out across New South Wales on the roving rabbiters' track.


CHORUS:
With a hool-em-up and a sool-em-up and the fool-em-up decoys;
The men who scalp the rabbiters are the Sydney market boys.


A free and independent life, a life of simple joys
I camped beneath an old belah ' and my tucker was mostly fried galah,
And I trapped 'em near and I trapped 'em far, for the Sydney market boys.


I poisoned out at Hillston, and I trapped at Gundagai,
I followed 'em over creeks and bogs, and chopped 'em out of hollow logs,
And tailed 'em up with yelping dogs, 'way back of Boggabri.


Besides the bunnies that you catch, there's things that you despise:
A hawk, a snake, a crow, a rat., a bandicoot, a tiger cat,
And when you're lucky, a lamb that's fat is a welcome enough surprise.


I skinned and scalped and scalped and skinned, till my back was nearly broke,
With blood and muck all stiff and brown, the stink of my clothes would knock you down,
And I slaved all day for half a crown for the Sydney market bloke.


I thought I'd get a snifter cheque for skins I sent from Bourke,
But the broker rogues in Sydney Town, they weigh them short and they grade them down,
And they sent me back three lousy pound, for a month of slavin' work.


Some day we're going to set our traps to catch the hungry crew
Who live on useful workers' sweat -- we'll stop their thieving racket yet,
And to make them earn their tucker, you bet, is the job for me and you.


With a hool-em-up and a sool-em-up,
And there'll be no more decoys;
Then a-hunting, hunting we will go
For the Sydney market boys.


Another from the Victorian Folk Music Club's Joy Durst Memorial Australian Song Collection.

These notes from Bob Bolton on Mudcat:

Stan (died early 1960s) wrote The Rabbiter's Song in the 1930s. It refers to the Government attempt to persuade the unemployed to go out and make money from trapping rabbits, instead of applying for the dole (which required working for the Government anyway - usually on public works programmes ... sometimes of utility and value).

Of course, when a whole mob of unemployed city slickers started sending off rabbit skins to the Sydney or Melbourne markets ... the price dropped (the law of supply and demand) as well as a number of the skins arriving rotten due to poor preparation. Anyway, there wasn't much money to be made in the game and Stan, being the good Left-winger that he was, wrote a beaut song and, being the competent musician that he was, wrote his own tune to it.



The illustration to this post is a photograph entitled, A Rabbiter's Pack, Darling District,
http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=30177, taken by Charles Kerry of Kerry and Co, sometime between 1884 and 1917.

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