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

The Drover's Dream

[ Roud 5473 ; AFS 32 ; Ballad Index MA202 ; trad.]

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 commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

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 commented in the album's sleeve notes:

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.


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?”


Transcribed by Reinhard Zierke. Compare to this the similar verses at Mark Gregory's website Australian Folk Songs.