The Drover's dream
Some Australian bush-songs are as rough as a chaff-bag. Not so this bemused wool-gathering piece of whimsy that has drifted sleepily all over the Australian continent from the south of Victoria up to Darwin. Old Bill Harney, a walking repository of Australian folklore, used to tell of a young drover who fell asleep on his night-watch. When he woke up, the sheep were gone and his mates were saddled up ready to search for them. The boss drover leaned over him with a kindly smile and said: "Don't bother to get up, son. Your cheque's in your boot!" The song requires no glossary, though it's worth mentioning that the maniacal bird called the kookaburra or laughing jackass is the bitter enemy of small reptiles such as the frilled lizard.
(Notes A. L. Lloyd, 'First Person')
The original melody and lyrics
it seems every time someone publishes or records this song there are minor variations in the lyrics. I am no different. The melody in my version is something I made up long ago because I didn't like the bouncy bouncy feel of the original.
I also changed some of the words, because only an Australian would "get' some of the original colloquial references. I also felt references to some unique and typically Australian wildlife was strangely left out.
There is a line in the original lyrics that goes:
"The goanna and the snake and the adder wide awake With the alligator danced "The Soldier's Joy." I changed alligator to crocodile. I also threw in a reference to Koala bears which was strangely omitted. You cant get any more Australian than a Koala Bear.
Another line goes like this:
"In the spreading silky oak the jackass cracked a joke And the magpie sang, "The Wild Colonial Boy,"" How weird is that. I assume this refers to the 'Laughing jackass' or Kookaburra. The kookaburra is an Australian kingfisher bird having a loud cackling cry like an outrageuos laugh. To hell with the jackass. This colloquial reference is too obscure, so I replaced the word Jackass with Kookaburra.
Alligator hole (a tourist spot in the far north of Australia)
Named in the early days before the discovery that there were no alligators in Australia. Swimming was once considered safe when the hole had a small population of freshwater crocodiles but the dangerous saltwater crocodile has started to appear in the water and swimming is no longer recommended. Alligator hole (now also referred to as Crocodile Hole), is located along Parry Creek, approximately 50 kilometres south-east of Wyndham. traveldownunder.com.au