Song of the Stockman
Border Watch Saturday 26 July 1884
A STORY OF ENGLISH AND AUSTRALIAN LIFE.
By GROSVENOR BUNSTER
AUTHOR OF " JOHN HORTON'S WARD ; " " THE
WAX OF THE WORLD ; " " ABEL BRADLEY ;
" BLOOD WILL TELL ; " &c.,&c.
... And then Tom Grist was sent for, and invited to drink the healths of those present-all his warm friends, as they took care to impress upon him; after which Tom's health was proposed by Falkland, and heartily pledged by all, even the ladies joining in the toast. Then Fowler told how Tom had saved his life, by dragging him from the rushing waters of the Murrumbidgee, and somehow it came out that the Australian was in great request in the sheds at shearing time on account of his vocal abilities. This made the ladies insist upon hearing an Australian bush song; and though Tom at first blushed like a, peony, and sternly refused to gratify the general request, he was not proof against the gentle entreaties of Rose. Therefore, after explaining that " the song was written by a drunken tramp—Frank the Poet they called him—as came to Nundle one season, and gave him a copy of it for a pound of tobacco," Tom favoured his patrons with the following:—
SONG OF THE STOCKMAN.
When the Sky in the east is streaked with red
As the early morn is breaking,
The stockman springs from his grassy bed,
The dew from his blankets shaking ;
Around are grazing the dappled hides ;
From the far back blocks he's brought them ;
They are wild, and often in headlong rides
Through gully and scrub he's sought them
A bracing sluice in the babbling creek,
And a bushman's breakfast over ;
Then his horse has strayed, and he starts to seek
For miles, maybe, the rover.
But up in the saddle at last he's got ;
A mad steers turns to gore him ;
His stockwhip-cracks like a pistol shot,
And the mob stream out before him.
Then who would pine in the city's crush
With cheeks so wan and whitened,
When the keen bush air brings a blooming blush,
And a heart from trouble lightened ?
Let tradesfolk toil for their paltry gold,
Then die, for others to spend it ;—
Give me the life of a stockman bold,
And a grave 'neath the grass to end it !
Be sure that the Australian's song was highly praised by those indulgent critics, who owed their present happy meeting to his strongright arm and bravery. And when he returned to the housekeeper's room, where a general rejoicing was taking place in honor of the young baronet's return, Tom had to repeat his song ...
It is most unlikely that this song was written by MacNamara or exchanged for a pound of tobacco. However the fact that his name appears in this serialised novel in 1884 shows his fame did still have some currency.
Grosvenor Bunster (1837 - 1904) - undoubtedly the author of the song - was born at Hobart, and worked as a journalist in Sydney and Melbourne, also contributing numerous crime, romance, travel and adventure stories to popular newspapers and periodicals. The Australian Journal published many of his short stories, as well as his serialised novel, Henstone's Revenge (1867). In 1872 he co-edited a collection of Christmas stories and in the 1870s also wrote a number of comedies and a musical burlesque for the theatre.