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The Miner's Washing

[John Warner]

Danny Spooner sang John Warner's song The Miner's Washing in 2017 on his final CD Labour and Toil. The album's liner notes commented:

While working at Coal Creek historical Park in Victoria, John Warner wrote a series of songs Pithead in the Fern (1993) that shows how South Gippsland was opened up for white settlement by the work of black coal miners and those who made and used the railways. This song reminds of the back breaking work of keeping a miner clean.

Lyrics

Danny Spooner sings The Miner's Washing

She came from Durham in 1899,
Married a laddie from the Coal Creek mine,
The finest lad that a girl could ever know,
Till he brought her his washing from the pit below.

Chorus (after each verse):
Scrubbing the miner’s clothes,
Scrubbing the miner’s clothes,
All piled up in a ghastly stack,
Heavy as lead, and smelly and black,
And oh the pain in her aching back,
Scrubbing the miner’s clothes.

Now yer Korumburra miner is a grimy sort of bloke,
So she slings in his duds for an all-night soak.
Takes a bar o' soap and grates it like a cheese,
And she chucks that in the bucket with his grubby dungarees.

She's up in the morning at the break of light,
Copper for to fill and the fire to light,
Gives her man his crib while the water’s on the boil,
Then girds up her muscles for a day’s hard toil.

She drags ’em from the copper to the rinsing tub,
Pound ’em with the dolly, then it's scrub, scrub, scrub.
Throw away the mucky water, do it all again,
Haul ’em through the wringer, and pray it doesn’t rain.

Beyond Kardella, the weather’s looking fine—
She humps out the washing to the long clothes line,
You can bet when it’s pegged out and she’s heaved up the prop,
The rain starts falling and the wind'll drop.

Now all you lassies that to marriage are inclined,
Never wed a laddie from the Coal Creek mine,
A squatter might be surly, a merchant might be mean,
A banker might be boring—but they’re easier to clean.