> Martyn Wyndham-Read > Songs > I Don’t Go Shearing Now

I Don’t Go Shearing Now

[ Roud - ; AFS 432 ; Mudcat 100277 ; Walter A. Woods, as John Drayman]

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang I Don’t Go Shearing Now, with Danny Spooner singing chorus, on their 1989 Sandstock album All Around Down Under. Gael Shannon noted:

Did Martyn put the tune to this as his song of remembrance of his own days as a station hand?

The full text appears in Stewart & Keesing’s Australian Bush Ballads (Angus & Robertson 1965) and runs to three pages—a detailed recollection of a shearer’s life.

Martyn Wyndham-Read also sang I Don’t Go Shearing on his 1995 Fellside album Sunlit Plains. The latter track was also included in 1996 on his compilation Undiscovered Australia. He noted:

[When Silence Reigns and I Don’t Go Shearing are both] derived from poems in The Australian Bush Ballads by Stewart and Keesing. As they are both lengthy works, I have brought them to more singable size by penning them in and clipping them short. To me these poems conjure up the spirit of the Bush and the bushman, the clatter of the shearing sheds contrasting with the lonely silence of the outback.


Martyn Wyndham-Read sings I Don’t Go Shearing Now

So you’re off to Riverina where the sun is shining clear
And the ewes and lambs are bleating calling shearers far and near
And the musterers are busy where the grass is always high
And the July fogs are climbing up the sunbeams to the sky
And the carpenters are busy fixing gates and pens and bins
While the pressers just to kill time press in bales the winter’s skins
I have been there in the past and I know exactly how
The shearing sheds’ll get you—though I don’t go shearing now
No I don’t go shearing now

Three clear days if you are lucky you’ll be there before the roll
And the splendour of the springtime will suffice your youthful soul
And you’ll pay an early visit to your working pen I’ll bet
Perhaps upon your own old rig the oil rag’s lying yet
And you’ll wander up and down the silent boards with heart quite full
As you smell old recollections when you sniff the greasy wool
Ah my lad you needn’t smile for I know exactly how
These little things affect you—though I don’t go shearing now
No I don’t go shearing now

Each man his neighbour watching noting well the other’s pace
As you move a little faster feeling fitter for the race
And the pace begins to quicken and the sweat soon starts to drop
Each man has found his pacer and is going at his top
But ere many days are over weak ones fall down one by one
Hit by chips and flying bullets from the boss’s little gun
I’ve been there in the past and I know exactly how
The fight gets fairly started—though I don’t go shearing now
Though I don’t go shearing now

How I’d love to travel with you where the Murrumbidgee flows
Where the days are always sunny and the noisy quirking crows
Are flying round the washpen and the sweating pens are full
And to have some tea and damper and be all among the wool
Every year I get this longing when the shearing time draws nigh
But to saddle up and slipper and to have another try
But these days are now behind me for I know exactly how
The rheumatism gets me so I don’t go shearing now
No I don’t go shearing now


Transcribed by Garry Gillard