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 commented in the album's sleeve notes:
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.
A.L. Lloyd sang Wallaby Stew live at the Top Lock Folk Club, Runcorn, on November 5, 1972. This concert was published in 2010 on the Fellside CD An Evening with A.L. Lloyd.
A.L. Lloyd sings Wallaby Stew
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 all Brown's clean skins 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.
Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs website and adapted to the actual singing of A.L. Lloyd.