> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Brisbane Ladies

Brisbane Ladies / Augathella Station

[ Roud 21114 ; AFS 13 ; Ballad Index FaE162 ; DT QUNSLAND ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang Brisbane Ladies in 1956 on his Riverside LP Australian Bush Songs and a year later for the Wattle album The Banks of the Condamine and Other Bush Songs. Like all tracks of this album, the latter recording was reissued in 1960 on the Topic LP Outback Ballads. In 1994, it was also included on Lloyd‘ Australian CD anthology The Old Bush Songs. A.L. Lloyd noted on his album:

A favourite sea-song was called Spanish Ladies. It wasn’t a shanty, but was sung in fo’c’sle entertainment, off watch. When Captain Marryat wrote his novel Poor Jack in 1840, he introduced the song, saying that, as it was almost forgotten, he hoped to rescue it from oblivion for a short time. He needn’t have worried, Spanish Ladies must have been tougher than he thought, for it has survived in several varied shapes right down to our time. English whalers and Newfoundland sealers made up their own versions, and sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century, somebody, perhaps an ex-sailor, made a parody of it relating to the life of Queensland cattle-drovers. Just as the sea song contains sailing directions to the English Channel, so the drover’s song details the main stage of the cattle route north-westward out of Brisbane, and also tells some of the attractions on the way. The melody is an uncommonly handsome one.

Martyn Wyndham-Read and Danny Spooner sang Brisbane Ladies in 1989 on their album All Around Down Under. They noted:

Found in many collections of Australian songs, Brisbane Ladies is said to have been composed by Saul Mendelson, a storekeeper of Nanango who died in 1897. It is a perfect illustration of the adaptability of folksong: the tune is an English sea shanty Spanish Ladies, and the chorus is a parody on the English whaling song Talcahuano Girls. The similarity between the lives of sailors and drovers is glimpsed in this song about one of Australia’s famous stock routes.

Martyn Wyndham-Read returned to Brisbane Ladies on his 2018 CD Away to Tintinara where he noted:

Such memories of singing this song with my good old mate Danny Spooner, or as I used to call him ‘Captain Spoon’. Sadly Danny is no longer with us, leaving a great gap which will take a long time to fill. We travelled the Great Outback many times and always enjoyed finishing off a concert with this song.

I wrote this verse when I head of my mate’s sad departure:

Farewell and adieu to you, Danny Spooner,
Farewell and adieu to you, Captain Spoon.
Your sails are all set and the wind’s well behind you,
You’ll always be with us, you’re part of the crew.


A.L. Lloyd sings Brisbane Ladies

Farewell and adieu to you Brisbane ladies,
Farewell and adieu to the girls of Toowong.
We’ve sold all our cattle and can’t stay no longer,
But we hope that we’ll see you again before long.

And we’ll rant and we’ll roar like true Queensland drovers,
We’ll rant and we’ll roar as onward we push
Until we return to Augathella station,
And it’s flaming dry going through the old Queensland bush.

The first camp we make, we call it the Quart Pot,
Cabbolture and Kilcoy, then Collington hut.
We’ll pull up at the Stone House, Bob Williams his paddock
And early next morning we cross the Blackbutt.

And on past Taromeo to Yarraman Creek, boys,
It’s there that we’ll make a fine camp for the day.
Where water and grass is both plenty and good, boys,
And maybe we’ll butcher a fat little stray.

It’s on through Nanango, that hard-bitten township,
Where the out-of-work station hands sit in the dust.
And the shearers get shorn by old Tim the contractor;
And I wouldn’t go by there but I flaming well must.

Oh, the girls of Toomancy they look so entrancing,
Like waltzing young heifers they’re looking for fun.
With the waltz and the polka and all kinds of dancing
To the old concertina of Henry Gunn.

So fill up your glasses and drink to the lasses,
We’ll drink this town dry, then farewell to all.
But when we return again from Augathella
We’ll always be willing to pay you a call.



Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory’s Australian Folk Songs and adapted to the actual singing of A.L. Lloyd on The Old Bush Songs.