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On the Road with Liddy

[ Roud - ; AFS 101 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang On the Road with Liddy in 1971 on the Topic album The Great Australian Legend accompanied by Alf Edwards on concertina. Lloyd wrote on the LP backside:

This unusual lyric was made, presumably in the 1920s, by a Nothern Territory cattle-hand named William Miller. Tommy Liddy was a well-known drover and horseman of the time. The narrative concerns a cattle-drive to the north-west Australian port of Wyndham. I’ve not seen this one in print.

and in the accompanying booklet:

They used to say that the heart of Australian nation was the nomad tribe - the teamsters, shearers, drovers—always on the move across the continent. Men with plenty of resourcefulness and few resposibilities. At the head of the nomad tribe were the drovers, the overlanders, who shifted herds and flocks across the plains to distant stations or sale-yards. With the spread of railways, the need for the long drives diminished, but they haven’t quite disappeared yet. The old forms of bush life have lasted best in the remote country of the Northern Territories and the northern part of West Australia. Mateship is a basic necessity in such empty country; a free and easy hospitabiliy makes up for a life that is otherwise monotonous, repetitious, terribly short of event. Slowness, a certain melancholy, and eager snatch at chance for diversion characterises the existence of the cattlemen of the far outback, even today. The relatively recent North-west drover’s song, On the Road with Liddy, shows it all.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang On the Road with Liddy in 1984 on his Greenwich Village album A Rose From the Bush.


A.L. Lloyd sings On the Road with Liddy

I’m on the road with Liddy with five hundred head of fats.
We string’ em on the stony ground and wheel ’em on the flats,
And when the evenin’ stars come out, with laughter and with song,
We round the cattle up, and camp by some quiet billabong.

Our cook’s a ball of muscles when he’s rustling up a feed,
And Bob Delany’s home and dried when steadying the lead,
And if the cattle run at night, there’s one chap out in front
Striking matches on the bullock’s horns, a chap named Georgie Hunt.

And when we get to Wyndham, there’s Tom Cole with his whip
To steer the lead across the hill and put ’em on the ship.
And when the mob is all on board, we’ll have some blasted fun,
We’ll get Jack Roberts with his car to take us for a run.

We’ll try and dig Bob Cooper up, then to that bag of tricks,
The pub that’s kept by Teddy Clark they call the Double-Six.
We’ll sing again them drovin’ songs we sang along the track,
Have a show on the screen for an hour or two, then off again out-back.