> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Wallaby Stew

Wallaby Stew

[ Roud 8242 ; AFS 93 ; Ballad Index Hodg234 ; Cecil Poole]

First published in the Bulletin in 1897. Written by Cecil Poole, original title When Dad Comes Out of Gaol. Printed in Stewart and Keesing, Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times with the note “Sung sixty years ago by a Mr Hulbert. Mrs E. Joan Bowran, Tallangatta.”

A.L. Lloyd sang Wallaby Stew in 1958 on his Wattle LP Across the Western Plains. He noted:

Two young fellows who had been working on the Darling Downs were walking back home to Port Adelaide. Following the Lachlan River, they called in at a station for rations. The boss didn't like their looks and wanted them to move on, but the boy who did the butchering skinned a hamstrung lamb for them, and they rewarded him with a song about Wallaby Stew. Their song was tangled up with another called Country Gaol, and it didn't make much sense. When they'd gone, the boy missed his good skinning knife, but he did recover the Wallaby Stew song, nearly thirty years later and twelve thousand miles away, when Edgar Waters of Sydney, on a visit to England, showed him a coherent set of words, probably from the collection of Percy Jones. The tune is widely known among seaman to the words of According to the Act (the influence of sailor tunes on Australian folk songs is worth studying). Perhaps the tune gained a readier foothold because it is related to the older and more handsome melody used for The Cockies of Bungaree.

Lloyd also sang Wallaby Stew with quite different lyrics live at the Top Lock Folk Club, Runcorn, on 5 November 1972. The recording if this gig was released in 2010 on the Fellside CD An Evening with A.L. Lloyd.

Theodore Bikel sang Wallaby Stew in 1964 in his Elektra album A Folksinger's Choice.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings Wallaby Stew on Across the Western Plains

Poor old Dad, he got five years or more as everybody knows
And now he lives in Maitland Gaol, broad arrows on his clothes.
He branded old Brown's cleanskins and he never left a tail.
So I'll relate the family's fate since Dad got put in gaol.

Chorus (after each verse):
So stir the wallaby stew,
Make soup of the kangaroo tail.
I tell you things is pretty tough
Since Dad got put in gaol.

Our sheep all died a month ago of put rot in the fluke,
Our cow got shot last Christmas Day by my big brother Luke.
And Mother's got a shearer cove for ever within hail.
Our family will have grown a bit since Dad got put in gaol.

Our Bess got shook upon some bloke; but he's gone we don't know where;
He used to act about the shed but he ain't acted square.
I've sold the buggy on me own the place is up for sale;
That won't be all that isn't junked when Dad comes out of gaol.

They let Dad out before his time to give us a surprise.
He came and slowly looked around and gently blessed our eyes.
He shook hands with the shearer cove and said things seemed stale,
So he left him here to shepherd us and battled back into gaol.

A.L. Lloyd sings Wallaby Stew on An Evening with A.L. Lloyd

Poor old Dad, he got five years or more as everybody knows
And now he's stuck in Maitland Gaol, broad arrows on his clothes.
He branded old Brown's cleanskins and he never left a tail.
So I'll relate the family's fate since Dad got put in gaol.

Chorus (after each verse):
So stir the wallaby stew,
Make soup of the kangaroo tail.
I tell you things is pretty crook
Since Dad got put in gaol.

Our Bess got shook on some young bloke; but he's gone we don't know where;
He used to work round the shearing shed and he certainly worked on her.
And Mother's got a shearer cove forever within hail.
The family will have grown a bit since Dad got put in gaol.

Our sheep all died last winter from footrot and the fluke,
Our cow got shot at Christmas time by me drunken brother Luke.
I broke the buggy just last week and the place is up for sale;
And that ain't all that's up the spout since Dad got put in gaol.

They let Dad out before his time to give us a surprise.
He came and gently looked around and softly blessed our eyes.
And he shook hands with that shearer cove and reckoned things looked stale,
And he slowly spat on the old mud floor and battled back into gaol.

Theodore Bikel sings Wallaby Stew

Poor Dad he got a five stretch as everybody knows
And now he lives in Boggo Road, broad arrows on his clothes.
He branded old Brown's cleanskins and never left a tail.
So I'll relate the family's fate since Dad got put in gaol.

Chorus (after each verse):
So stir the wallaby stew,
And make soup with the kangaroo tail.
I tell you things is pretty crook
Since Dad got put in gaol.

Our sheep all died a month ago not rot but blooming fluke,
The cow was boozed last Christmas Day by elder brother Luke.
I sold the buggy on me own; the place is up for sale.
That won't be all that has been junked when Dad gets out of gaol.

Our Bess got shook up on some bloke who's gone we don't know where;
He used to act around the sheds but he ain't acting square.
And Mother's got a shearer cove forever at her tail:
The family will have grown a bit when Dad gets out of gaol.

They let Dad out before his time to give us a surprise.
He looked around at all of us and gently blessed our eyes.
He shook hands with the shearer cove and said that things seemed stale,
And left him there to shepherd us … and battled back to gaol.

Acknowledgements

Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs website and adapted to the actual singing of A.L. Lloyd on his album.

Garry Gillard provided the transcriptions for Theodore Bikel's and for A.L. Lloyd's live version.

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Wallaby Stew.