> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Flash Jack from Gundagai

Flash Jack from Gundagai

[ Roud 24704 ; AFS 40 ; Ballad Index FaE146 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd learned Flash Jack from Gundagai in Bethungra in the 1920s from a drunken shearer named White and recorded it in 1957 for the Wattle album The Banks of the Condamine and Other Bush Songs. He was accompanied by Peggy Seeger on guitar. Like all tracks of this album it was reissued in 1960 on the Topic LP Outback Ballads. In 1994, it was also included in the Larrikin CD The Old Bush Songs. Lloyd said in the latter album's sleeve notes:

What is special about Gundagai that earns it such frequent mention in folklore? Perhaps its position as a near-halfway stage on the Sydney - Melbourne highroad made it loom larger than life in the shearer's imagination. Flash Jack evidently did most of his shearing a long way from home, but the fact that he came from Gundagai seems to give him a special character. He seems to be the elder brother of the Flash Stockman, but his boasts are more sober, and he is a workman of some dignity. The tune of this song is a close relative of the Bungaree melody.

A.L. Lloyd sang this song also on The Great Australian Legend and on Classic A.L. Lloyd; he was accompanied by Alf Edwards, concertina, and Martyn Wyndham-Read, chorus, and wrote on the LP backside:

Banjo Paterson published a version in his Old Bush Songs in 1905. I heard it at Bethunga in the late 1920s. Some forty years or so later a Queenslander, Billy Scott, reported it from his state. Scott's version and mine are much the same as Paterson's, and presumably the song has been “controlled” by its appearance in print. As it happens, Bethunga is only a few miles from Gundagai, but the song belongs pretty surely to the NSW south-west, to the hot country between Hay and Ivanhoe.

and in the accompanying booklet:

If Crooked Mick [see Click Go the Shears] is a mythical figure, the real-life shearer is also heroic. In a single day on October 10, 1892, Jacky Howe shore 321 weaners at Alice Downs, Central Queensland. That was with the blade-shears. With the machine, Daniel Cooper shore 325 ewes at Langkoop, Victoria, on October 22, 1947. Shearers still think of themselves as aristocrats of labour, with vast pride in their skill. The song Flash Jack from Gundagai grew up in the slab huts of the shearers' quarters, amid the smell of greasy wool, fried lamb-chops, shag tobacco and old newspapers. It gives the portrait of a dignified old workman whose boasts are just and sober.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings Flash Jack from Gundagai on The Banks of the Condamine

I've shore at Burrabogie and I've shore at Toganmain,
I've shore at big Willandra and out on the Coleraine,
But before the shearing was over I wished I was back again
Shearin' for old Tom Patterson, on the One-Tree Plain.

Chorus (after each verse):
All among the wool, boys, all among the wool,
Keep your blades full, boys, keep your blades full,
I can do a respectable tally meself whenever I like to try
And I'm known around the country as Flash Jack from Gundagai.

I've shore at big Willandra, and I've shore at Tilberoo,
And once I drew me blades, boys, upon the famous Barcoo,
At Cowan Downs and Trida, and far as Moulamein.
And I was always glad to get back again on the One-Tree Plain.

I've pinked them with the Wolseleys and I've rushed with B-bows too,
I've shaved them in the grease, boys, with the grass seed showin' through.
I never slummed a pen, me lads, for whatever it might contain
When shearin' for old Tom Patterson, on the One-Tree Plain.

I've been whalin' up the Lachlan and I've dossed on Cooper's Creek
And once I rung Cudjingie shed and blued it in a week.
And when Gabriel blows his trumpet, lads, I'll catch the morning train
And I'll push for old Tom Patterson's on the One-Tree Plain.

A.L. Lloyd sings Flash Jack from Gundagai on The Great Australian Legend

I've shore at Burrabogie and I've shore at Toganmain,
I've shore at big Willandra and out on the Coleraine,
And before the shearin' was over I wished meself back again
Shearin' for old Tom Patterson, on the One-Tree Plain.

Chorus (after each verse):
All among the wool, boys, all among the wool,
Keep your blades full, boys, keep your blades full,
I can do a respectable tally meself whenever I like to try
And I'm known around the country as Flash Jack from Gundagai.

I've shore at Goorianawa, likewise at Tilberoo,
And once I drew my blades, boys, upon the famous Barcoo,
At Cowan Downs and Trida, and as far as Moulamein.
And I was always glad to get back again on the One-Tree Plain.

I've pinked 'em with the Wolseleys and I've rushed with B-bows too,
I've shaved them in the grease, boys, with the grass seed showin' through.
I never slummed a pen, me lads, whatever it might contain,
When shearin' for old Tom Patterson, on the One-Tree Plain.

I've been whalin' up the Lachlan and I've dossed at Cooper's Creek,
And once I rung Cudjingie shed and blued it in a week.
And when Gabriel blows his horn, lads, I'll catch the morning train
And I'll push for old Tom Patterson's on the One-Tree Plain.

Acknowledgements and Notes

Most of the place-names in this song refer to large Sheep-stations in south-western New South Wales. The Barcoo, however, is a river running—when it has water—from south-west Queensland into South Australia

Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs and adapted to A.L. Lloyd's singing.