> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Drover’s Dream

The Drover’s Dream

[ Roud 5473 ; AFS 32 ; Ballad Index MA202 ; Mudcat 15656 , 167422 ; trad.]

The original version of this song is The Visions of a Night Watch, published the regional South Australian newspaper, the Kadina and Wallaroo Times, on Wednesday 25 December 1889 [AFS 116] .

The Bushwhackers sang Drover’s Dream in 1955 on Wattle Records’ very first 78 rpm disc, which sold more than 20000 copies. It was also included in 1957 on their Wattle EP Australian Bush Songs. They noted:

When the drovers camp at night, after a hard day in the saddle, they still have to take it in turns to ride around the mob to see that the sheep or cattle stay quiet and don’t stray. It isn’t surprising that the man on the night watch sometimes goes to sleep in the saddle and dreams. The song is still popular with drovers in the inland.

A.L. Lloyd sang The Drover’s Dream in 1956 on his Riverside album Australian Bush Songs. He was accompanied by Al Jeffery on banjo. This track was included in 2008 on Fellside’s A.L. Lloyd anthology Ten Thousand Miles Away. Lloyd noted on the original album:

The original words of this favourite bit of bush whimsy were probably made by a man of education, rather than a son of the common people; if so, his culture had not soured his nature and accordingly the folk took his little fantasy to their hearts. Nowadays, the song exists in many versions, of which the present one is among the more innocent. The tune may be recognised as a variant of the American Civil War marching song, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp.

Lloyd recorded The Drover’s Dream a second time for his album First Person. Here he was accompanied by Alf Edwards on concertina and Dave Swarbrick playing fiddle; this was reissued in 1994 on the Australian CD The Old Bush Songs. Lloyd noted:

Some Australian bush songs are as rough as a chaff-bag. Not so this bemused wool-gathering piece of whimsy that has drifted sleepily all over the Australian continent from the south of Victoria up to Darwin. Old Bill Harney, a walking repository of Australian folklore, used to tell of a young drover who fell asleep on his night-watch. When he woke up, the sheep were gone and his mates were saddled up ready to search for them. The boss drover leaned over him with a kindly smile and said, “Don’t bother to get up, son, your cheque’s in your boot!” The song requires no glossary, though it’s worth mentioning that the maniacal bird called the kookaburra or laughing jackass is the bitter enemy of small reptiles such as the frilled lizard.

The tune will be recognised as an amiable variant of the old American Civil War song Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, composed by George F. Root who also wrote The Battle-Cry of Freedom.

The Jeffersons sang The Drover’s Dream in 1958 on their Topic EP Round and Round With the Jeffersons. They were led by Al Jeffery who accompanied A.L. Lloyd in 1956, see above.

The Ian Campbell Folk Group sang The Drover’s Dream in 1963 on their Transatlantic album This Is the Ian Campbell Folk Group. They noted:

Another Bert Lloyd song from New South Wales. We acquired it in the same way in which we got Rockin’ the Cradle. The words and music were written by hand, so I have a feeling that it may never have been published. On stage, the instrumentalists usually seize this song as an opportunity to clown around. It is a song we never tire of performing.

Dave de Hugard sang The Drover’s Dream in 1986 on his Larrikin album The Magpie in the Wattle. He noted:

This version of the ever popular bush song, is partly drawn from one collected by Ron Edwards from Mick Dolan. Mick was a stockman at one time, up in the Cape York peninsula, (see The Big Book of Australian Folk Song, Ron Edwards, Rigby, Sydney, 1976). The tune is a variant of a popular music hall song of the last century called Killaloe, which appeared in what was billed as, ‘a burlesque melodrama, Miss Esmeralda’. The tune has carried a number of bush songs, including The Flash Stockman and The Wooloomooloo Song.


The Bushwhackers sing Drover’s Dream

One night while droving sheep, my companions lay asleep,
There was not a star to illuminate the sky;
I was dreaming I suppose for my eyes were nearly closed
When a very strange procession passed me by.
First there came a kangaroo, with his swag of blankets blue,
A dingo ran beside him for a mate;
They were travelling mighty fast, but they shouted as they passed
“We’ll have to jog along, it’s getting late.”

The pelican and the crane, they came in from off the plain,
To amuse the company with a Highland fling;
And the dear old bandicoot played the tune upon his flute,
And the native bears sat round all in a ring.
Then the possum and the crow sang a song of long ago,
And the frill-necked lizard listened with a smile;
And the emu standing near, with his claw behind his ear
Said the funniest thing I’ve heard for quite a while.

Some frogs from out the swamp where the atmosphere is damp,
Came bouncing in and sat upon some stones;
They each unrolled their swags and produced from little bags
The violin, the banjo and the bones.
The goanna and the snake and the adder wide awake
With the alligator danced the Soldier’s Joy;
In the spreading silky oak then the jackass cracked a joke,
And the magpie sang The Wild Colonial Boy.

Some brolgas darted out from the ti-trees all about,
And performed a set of Lancers very well;
Then the parrot green and blue gave the orchestra its cue
To strike up The Old Log Cabin in the Dell.
I was dreaming, I suppose, of these entertaining shows,
But it never crossed my mind I was asleep
Till the boss beneath the cart woke me up with such a start
Yelling: “Dreamy, where the hell are all the sheep?”

A.L. Lloyd sings The Drover’s Dream

I was travelling with the sheep, oh me mates was fast asleep,
No moon nor stars were shining in the sky,
I was dousing, I suppose, but me eyes had hardly closed
When a very strange procession passed me by:

First there came the kangaroo with his swag of blankets blue,
He had with him a dingo for a mate.
They were travelling pretty fast when they waved to me as they passed,
And said, “We’ve got to be pushing on, it’s getting late.”

Then three frogs from out the swamp, where the atmosphere was damp,
Came up and gingerly sat down on the stones.
They unrolled their little swags and took from their diddely bags
A violin, a banjo and the bones.

And the little bandicoot played a tune upon his flute,
Three koala bears came down and formed a ring.
And the pelican and the crane, they flew in from the plain,
And amused the company with a Highland fling.

Oh, the parrots green and blue sang Bold Jack Donahue,
The frilly lizards waltzed round with a smile.
When from out the old she-oak a laughing jackass spoke:
“And spare me happy days, they ran a mile.”

And the emu standing near with his claw up to his ear
Sang, “Rocked in the cradle of the deep.”
I was underneath the cart, the boss he woke me with a start,
Saying, “Clancey, where the hell are the flamin’ sheep?”