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Thirty Shillings a Month

[Martin McKenna]

Danny Spooner sang Martin McKenna’s song Thirty Shillings a Month in 2017 on his final CD, Home. He noted:

Martin McKenna is interested in colonial history and makes up his songs singing aloud on the farm. His song was the winner of the Monster Meeting Song Award. The brain child of The Chewton Domain Society and Jan Wositzki in 2012, it produced a great two-CD album and a show performed by the song-writers at the Castlemaine Theatre Royal. The Monster Meeting was called in December 1851 to protest against the proposed increase to the Miners’ license fee. It was a tax on their hard-slog labour, not their earnings, and 15,000 gold-seekers gathered at Golden Point near Castlemaine.


Danny Spooner sings Thirty Shillings a Month

Chorus (after each verse):
Thirty shillings a month to dig for gold,
In the dust and the heat and the rain and the cold.
While the squatter pays, I understand,
Around the same for a swag of lamb.

For ten quid a year they give him the vote—
He gets a say in what we have to pay;
Then they lock up the land from folks such as us:
Time to stand up for what’s right and what’s just.

Some diggers strike riches but most do it tough
Now the government claims that we don’t pay enough.
So they’ll double the fee, it’s easy you see,
To keep us in chains while the squatter rides free.

When we came to this land we hoped we’d find
The old Master and Servants Act left far behind.
But the gentry and crown they were eager to see
Us kept in our place, so they’ll double the fee.

So come gather, boys, at Forest Creek,
Time to be bold, there’s no place for the meek.
We’ll rally for justice and what is our right:
Victory is ours if the diggers unite.