> Danny Spooner > Songs > The Backblocks Shearer

The Backblocks Shearer / Widgegoera Joe

[ Roud - ; AFS 96 ; Ballad Index MA038 ; Mudcat 2810 ; trad.]

According to the note of the Mudcat Café lyrics of The Backblocks Shearer, this song was written by W. Tully at Nimidgee, NSW, and can be found in most Australian collections.

Danny Spooner sang The Backblocks Shearer in 2017 on his final CD, Home. He noted:

Collected from Jack ‘Hoop-Iron’ Lee, an old bushman and shearer. It was the first Australian folk-song collected by John Meredith. There is a very good biography available on John Merdith by Keith McKenry (2014).


Danny Spooner sings The Backblocks Shearer

I’m only a backblocks shearer, mate, as easily can be seen,
Shore in most of the shearin’ sheds on the plains of the Riverine,
I shore in most of the famous sheds, and I’ve seen big tallies done,
But somehow or other, I don’t know why, I never became a gun.

Chorus (after each verse):
But hurrah, my boys, my shears are set, and I feel both fit and well,
Tomorrow you’ll find me at my pen when the gaffer rings the bell.
With Hayden’s famous thumb-guards fixed and both o’ my blades pulled back,
Tomorrow I’ll go with a sliding blow, for the century or the sack.

I’ve opened up the wind-pipe straight, I’ve opened behind the ear,
I shore in every possible style in which a man could shear.
I studied all the cuts and drives of the famous men I’ve met,
But I never managed to plaster up those three little figures yet.

Well, the boss came up this mornin’, and I saw him stare at me,
I’d mastered Morgan’s shoulder-cut, as he could plainly see.
But I’ve another surprise for him, ’t will give his nerves a shock,
Tomorrow he’ll see that I’ve mastered Pierce’s rang-tang block!

And if I succeed as I hope to do, then I intend to shear
At the Wagga demonstration that’s held there every year,
And there I’ll lower the colours, my boys, the colours of Mitchell & Co.,
And instead of Deeming you shall hear of Widgegoera Joe!