Stew shows us a picture of the hardship and poverty of the struggling
settler which was one of the chief causes of cattle duffing. Wallaby
Stew, like a number of other bush songs, treats its theme with a rather
tough kind of humour.
Poole, a minor versifier of the 1890s, published a poem called When Dad
Comes Out of Gaol in the BULLETIN, in 1897. Either Poole borrowed from
Wallaby Stew, or bush singers adapted Poole's poem to make their song.
Whichever way it was, the song is the better piece of work.
Shearston learnt the song from the singing of A.L. Lloyd. Lloyd heard
it from a couple of young men when he was working on a sheep station in
New South Wales, but they had their text confused with that of an
English song called County Gaol. So, in recording the song, Lloyd used
a tune he learnt in the 1920s and a text recorded later by Dr. Percy
Jones from a Mrs. Bowran of Tallangatta in Victoria. Lloyd remarks that
the tune is borrowed from an English sailor's song, According to the
Act. Close relatives of this rune are used for a number of other bush
broadarrows - traditional markings of convict garb.
cleanskins - unbranded animals
wallaby - a kind of small kangaroo.
footrot and the fluke -common diseases of sheep.
junked - scrapped.
THE EUMERELLA SHORE
The Eumerella Shore
is written from the squatter's point of view. It satirically assumes
that free selectors would rather earn their money by duffing cattle
than by working their selections. Though the Eumerella River is in the
Monaro Country of New South Wales, the text of the song seems to have
been first printed in a Tasmanian paper, the Launceston Examiner, in
March 1861. This was the year in which the parliament of New South
Wales passed the first of the free selection laws, framed by the
Premier, Sir John Robertson.
version Gary Shearston sings here was collected by Alan Scott in 1955
from Thomas Bleakley of Virginia, Brisbane, and printed in "Singabout"
-the journal of the Sydney Bush Music Club. Mr. Bleakley was a youth of
sixteen when he learnt the song from the Post Master at Esk,
Queensland. He was seventy six when he recorded it for Alan Scott. The Eumerella Shore is sung to variants of Darling Nellie Gray, an American song which was well known in Australia during the latter half of the 19th century.
dray - bullock dray.
swag - same as "bluey" (see The Maryborough Miner).
doing of the squatter so brown - putting one over on him.
John Robertson - (then) Premier of New South Wales (see above note).