New Zealand Tour Lyrics

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LOOKING FOR THE YELLER     B. Manufui/D. Rainey

Hey boys, look around, but you won't find Johnny - 
He'll not be coming in here as he did of old.
Hey boys, say, where's our old mate Johnny?
He's gone to Gabriel's Gully for to look for gold.

Johnny's gone, he's lookin' for the yeller,
He's got that fatal fever in his head.
All he sees before his eyes are those little lumps of yeller,
So have a drink for Johnny 'cause he might as well be dead.

Hey boys, say, what happened to his Mary?
Did he leave her here alone in a bed so cold?
Yes, he left her here behind, but she doesn't seem to mind - 
There's others here a-waiting while he looks for gold.

We wish him all the devil's luck, our mate Johnny - 
When he's rich, hope he remembers mates of old.
Yeah, let's drink a toast to our old mate Johnny.
He's gone to Gabriel's Gully for to look for gold.

(Repeat first verse)

FRIENDLY ROAD            Traditional

He wasn't very clever, and he wasn't very good,
And extremely old and seedy were the clothes in which he stood.
I thought he smelt of liquor when he shook me by the hand,
But I hailed him as a brother, one of that special band.

For we were brothers of the road, we had troubles in our life,
We got sold out for the mortgage, we couldn't keep a wife.
So we were footloose and were moving when the first old rooster crowed,
We were up and packed and moving down that long and friendly road.

I was a trifle thankful when he said that he must go - 
He wasn't an acquaintance most folks would like to know.
He was chummy with the drifters at the corner of the Grand
When we were in Dunedin, and of that special band.

I stand and watch the ferry as she moves out from the wharf
And I feel a kind of choking in the region of my scarf.
I think of summers vanished, when a hard-up merry band,
We wandered just as brothers through the length of Maoriland.

And I wander slowly homeward, I cannot go to bed,
But sit dreaming by the firelight and smoke a pipe instead.
I drink his health in water - there's nothing else at hand,
For the sake of fern and tussock, and the roaming years we've had.


Here's to the home I've left so long, far in the back country
Hidden in the rushes, the scrub and the blackberry.

Muddy paths and potholes, tractor tracks and postholes,
Mossy battens dangling there on the wire, and the open fire.
Six inch nails and hay bales, warratahs and slip rails,
Dogs and children yapping away in your ear, and the air's so clear.

Days of chipping thistles, curses and dog whistles,
Crutching in the yard with a flash of the shears, as the evening nears.
Talking 'round the table, loud guffaws and babble,
Families now split up and splintered like kindling wood, but the life was good.

THE BLACK SWANS     Anon/N. Colquhoun

The restless shadows by me flit, the day will soon be o'er
As in the dying light I sit, outside my whare door.
Away across the east I see the black swans homeward come,
Through sunset skies that gleam on me, a digger scraping gum.

'Mid hills of grey and brown I live here in the scrub,
Full fifty miles from any town, and ten from any pub.
Through winter's rain and summer's drought, this life maybe suits some,
I grind a scanty living out, digging and scraping gum.

And if you want the way you've gone hid from the friends you've lost,
As slow the years of life steal on, and turn the hair to frost,
Then see across the eastern sky the black swans homeward come,
'Neath sunset skies that gleam on me, a digger scraping gum.

THE MAIL COACH LINE      Anon/N. Colquhoun

We're leaving here at seven, and we're leaving here on time,
Making through to Blenheim on the Mail Coach Line.
Horses new at every post, weather wet or fine,
Making through to Blenheim on the Mail Coach Line.

Happy laughter, sorrow mingling, silent shade and sunny ridge,
Pole and hame-ring gaily jingling, waterfall and cunning bridge.
Mountain valley, swollen river, all at your command,
Four well-rested coaching horses that can understand.

Swaying coach with braces creaking, Dan and Blackie, Bango, "Hi-now!"
George, the leader, panting, heaving, splashing through the flooded Wairau.
Waving tree and drooping fern-leaf, waters calm and blue,
Rushing torrent, fog and thunder, we shall bring you through!

THE T.T. LINE     P. Cox/B. Worsfold

There's many a shack along the T.T. track,
Where the workers rest from toil.
From working through the night on the rhyolite,
Or shoveling twenty thousand yards of soil.
With axe and pick, where the bush was thick,
In gullies where the sun can't shine,
We drove the tracks by the strength of our backs,
When we built the T.T. line.

And we cursed the flies as we laid the ties
In blazing summer heat.
With ice on the rails in the winter gales,
We struggled hard to keep our feet.
The gullies were filled with the blasted hills,
The bridges built with timber from the trees,
And at night in the camp, by a kero lamp,
We did as we damned well pleased!

You may go and stand where the line once ran,
And listen for the sound
Of the dynamite and the camps at night,
And the labourers who broke the ground.
Platelayers, riveters and firemen, 
Blacksmiths, loggers, cooks and engineers - 
If you listen, then you'll hear the sounds again,
Over more than eighty years.

RUSSIAN JACK     B. Lovell

Look down the road, and who do you see?
An old man in ragged clothes - a tramp to you and me.
Must be summer, 'cause he's back again,
And Russian Jack's a tramp, yeah, and that's his game.

He'll chop a little wood for a meal and a cup of tea,
And sleep in a barn if it looks like rain.
He don't like children, or so they say.
When Russian Jack's around, you'd better stay away

Don't you go down to the river - better stay away.
Don't you go down to the river - Russian Jack's there today.

White Russian immigrant, or so the story goes,
Came here in the twenties after revolution days.
And ever since then he's wandered dusty roads,
His swag on his back, and his billy swingin' free.

They say he's got a sister on the East Coast somewhere
Who he visits every Christmas to drink Russian beer.
Last time I saw him was nineteen sixty-two,
On the side of a road, beneath a shady tree.

I hear tell he died in an old people's home,
His legs were so crippled, he could no longer roam.
Sad ending for a harmless old man
Who didn't seem to fit any kind of social plan.

(Repeat first verse).

HARD OIL       G. Dawson

I was born in Okato, and brought up a farm boy,
Grandpa and Dad took their bread from the soil;
But now I'm a mudman and when I say "paydirt",
I'm not talking cocky, I'm talking Hard Oil.

So when we say "kelly", or "derrick", or "drill-string",
When you hear us say "step-out", or "wild-cat well",
You'll know that we're after the gas from the Maui - 
We're not talking cocky, we're talking Hard Oil.

I remember the fifties when I was a youngster,
I remember the hills where I once roamed so free;
When grasshoppers used to be little green insects - 
They're not that today, lads - they're great metal trees.

The old town's a boom town and life is a-changing,
I see highrise and highways, not haycarts and hacks.
The gas from the Maui has changed us forever - 
There's no turning 'round and there's no going back.

So here's to the future of you, Taranaki - 
Here's to your mountain, your streams and your vales.
You've given us riches from under your good earth - 
We no longer talk cocky, we now talk Hard Oil.


Oh, we rise at five, and we're glad to be alive,
Though the clouds come over the mountain
And the mud lies thick on the home paddick,
And the rain comes down in fountains.

Bang go the cans, and the dog understands, 
And he's off and through the slip-rails,
And we gaily sing of the Taranaki spring, 
As the cows come 'round to the cow bails.

Oh, we wash their bags with pretty coloured rags,
And we fit the tit cups tightly.
And we do this thing on a spring morning,
And we do the same thing nightly.

Oh, some men go for Marilyn Monroe,
And some for Lollobrigida,
But there's beauty too, in a cow's rear view,
To the eyes of a Jersey breeder.

Oh, the poets rhyme 'bout the lilac time,
And the shiny cuckoos calling,
But the spring 'round here means the time of year
When the bobby calves start bawling.

DIGGERS FAREWELL     Anon/N. Colquhoun

Just as you say, sir - I'm off once more,
The Palmer River - that's my way.
I landed here in sixty-four,
That's ten years' struggle along the Grey.

Ten long years since I landed here,
In a trackless land of wet and cold.
Some of our times were pretty severe,
But who lacks hardship, looking for gold?

The whistle! A drink before I start?
"A step to the corner," I heard you say.
My last on the coast with all my heart,
A brandy straight, and then I'm away.

Here's a long farewell to the old West Coast,
And a heart prepared for whatever I find.
"Success to the Palmer!" - is  your toast?
Mine's "Here's to the land I leave behind."


Thomas Brunner found a coal seam, 
Right in the river Grey,
And that was the start of the Brunner Mine, 
And the story I'll tell today.

Oh, on that dreadful morning, 
The sky it was so grey,
When the whistle blew at four o'clock 
You had to scrape 'round to find day,
You had to scrape 'round to find day.

So, run to the Brunner, girls, run. 
Fly to the Brunner, girls, fly!
If you want to see the last of your John, 
Clear the tears away from your eye,
Clear the tears away from your eye.

Then up came the little pit ponies, 
They had on a terrible scare.
They wouldn't go down, although they was pushed - 
They knew there was danger down there, 
Knew there was danger down there.

At five o'clock in the morning, 
Eighty men filed inside.
At nine o'clock, with a rumbling boom, 
Eighty men down there died, 
Eighty men died.

There wasn't a wife at the Brunner 
Didn't lose a husband or son.
There wasn't a child at the Brunner mine 
Whose Daddy wasn't dead and gone.

If they'd only heeded the ponies, 
That never had scared before,
Then the cemetery down at the Grey River mouth 
May have held a few, but not four score - 
May have held a few, but not four score.


In nineteen hundred and eighty-one, me dirty Levis I put on,
Oh, me dirty Levis I put on, to work upon the Roads Board,
The Roads Board, I'm weary of the Roads Board, 
For I worked on the Roads Board.

In nineteen hundred and eighty-two, I joined the unemployment queue,
They gave me a job to do, working on the Roads Board.

I was wearing: dirty Levis, I was single, flinging scoria, shoveling shingle, 
I was working on the Roads Board.

In nineteen hundred and eighty-three I leaned on my shovel and drank my tea.
They called us the P.E.P., all working on the Roads Board.

In nineteen hundred and eighty-four, a lot of concrete I did pour,
And I spilled some for me mate next door, courtesy of the Roads Board,
The Roads Board, my friends all love the Roads Board,
While I work on the Roads Board.

In nineteen hundred and eighty-five, working on the Scenic Drive,
Said a child to his mother, "Is he alive?" as I worked on the Roads Board.

In nineteen hundred and eighty-six, we held stop signs up on sticks,
We looked like a bunch of p-people, working on the Roads Board.

And just this morning in Herne Bay, I trod on a snail, to it's dismay,
'Cause it was following me 'round all day, as I raced for the Roads Board,
The Roads Board, I'm weary of the Roads Board, 
For I work on the Roads Board.


O'Brien had a bullock team, the strongest one about, and when the logs were
big and hard to reach, O'Brien got them out. A team of sixteen bullocks,
each weighing half a ton: he'd rig 'em up at the crack of dawn and they'd
work 'til day was done. They could cross the wildest rivers, could haul
through slush and slime, and compared with other teams around, do the job
in half the time. Eight tons of solid pulling power, of muscled sinewed beef
makes this story that they tell of them well-nigh beyond belief. One day a
rumour was heard that a full day's trek, no more, a great bull whale lay
stranded in the shallows on the shore. It wasn't long before O'Brien was told
the salty tale, and business wasn't good right now, so he thought about that

Now O'Brien began to calculate the quantity of oil and ambergris, just lying
here for want of one day's toil. So he gathered his beasts and he set off out,
he let them take their time. He wanted them fresh and ready to go - at
their peak of strength and prime. Now those animals knew there was
something afoot, and they eagerly covered the land, and the sun was still
high in the western sky when they reached the edge of the sand. 

Now O'Brien walked down to the water's edge and he stood there awhile
Taking stock of the tons of blubber and oil stranded there as black and as
still as a rock. So he hitched up his fine team of bullocks by a chain fastened
tight 'round the tail, and he dreamed about all that money to be made from
this mountain of whale. What O'Brien didn't know about this monster from
the deep, was that it wasn't dead at all - it was simply fast asleep! When
everything was all set up he ordered  the team to pull - a move which didn't
quite amuse this great oceanic bull! When the chains pulled tight around his
tail, he sent up a water-spout - he heaved his massive body, and began to
thresh about. And before O'Brien could do a thing that whale began to glide
- the team pulled hard, the whale pulled hard, but the ox began to slide. "Get
your backs to it," O'Brien called out - those bulls gave the best they had. But
ten tons of whale, with a loop around his tail, can pull, when he's upset and

And the last O'Brien saw of his team as the unhappy whale tried to flee, was
sixteen bullocks, back-end about, floating away out to sea.


There was a ship that put to sea,
The name of the ship was the "Billy of Tea".
The wind blew up, her bow dipped down,
And blow, my bully boys, blow.

Soon may the Wellerman come, and bring us sugar and tea and rum.
One day when the tonguin' is done, we'll take our leave and go.

She had not been two weeks from shore
When down on her a right whale bore.
The Captain called all hands and swore
He'd take that whale in tow.

Before the boats had hit the water,
The whale's tail came up and caught her.
All hands to the side, harpooned and fought her
When she dived down below.

No line was cut, no whale was freed,
The Captain's mind was not of greed.
He belonged to the whaleman's creed,
She took that ship in tow.

For forty days or even more, 
The line went slack - then tight once more.
All boats were lost (there were only four)
But stll the whale did go.

As far as I've heard, the fight's still on - 
The line's not cut, the whale's not gone.
The Wellerman makes his regular call
To encourage the Captain, crew and all.


Bill & Kath Worsfold - Kiwi Entertainers!
RD 3 Warkworth 0983, New Zealand
Phone: +64-9-425-9538

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This page was last updated December 2, 2008.

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