> Danny Spooner > Songs > Look Out Below

Look Out Below

[ Roud - ; AFS 56 ; Ballad Index FaE092 ; Charles Thatcher (1831-1878)]

Danny Spooner sang Look Out Below on his and Martyn Wyndham-Read’s 1989 album All Around Down Under and on his 2004 CD ’ard Tack. He noted:

Regarded as the official songster of the Victorian diggings, Charles Thatcher came here as a young man at the beginning of the gold rush: his last tour in 1866 ended almost 15 years of entertaining the rapidly diversifying gold communities.

Look Out Below sums up the different opportunities available in Europe and Australia in the early 19th century. “They bear the test of careful reading … and if circulated in England, would give a much better idea of the life at the goldfields than most of the elaborately written works upon them do.” (‘Argus’, 7 April 1854)


Danny Spooner sings Look Out Below

A young man left his native shore
The work was bad at home
And to Australia’s sunny land
He crossed the briny foam

And when he came to Ballarat
It put him in a glow
To hear the sound of the windlass and
The cry, ‘Look out below’

Where’er he turned his wondering eye
Strange wealth he did behold
And peace and plenty hand in hand
By the magic power of gold

Says he, “And I am young and strong
To the diggings I will go
For I love the sound of windlass and
The cry, ‘Look out below’ ”

So among the rest he took his chance
His luck at first was vile
But he did work and persevere
And at length he made a pile

Says he, “I’ve made my fortune
So home again I’ll go
I’ll bid farewell to the windlass and
The cry, ‘Look out below’ ”

But arrived in London once again
His gold he freely spent
And into every gaiety
And dissipation went

But pleasures if prolonged too much
Oft causes pain you know
And he missed the sound of the windlass and
The cry, ‘Look out below’

And thus he reasoned with himself
“Oh why do I return
For the digger’s independent life
For that I surely yearn”

“Here purse-proud lords the poor oppress
But there it is not so
Give me the sound of the windlass and
The cry, ‘Look out below’ ”

And so he started back again
With his own little wife
And he says there’s nothing can compare
To a jolly digger’s life

Ask him if he’ll go back again
He’ll quickly answer, “No,
For I love the sound of the windlass and
The cry, ‘Look out below’ ”


Transcribed by Garry Gillard