> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Road to Gundagai
> Trevor Lucas > Songs > Lazy Harry's

The Road to Gundagai / Lazy Harry's

[ Roud 10209 ; AFS 54 ; Ballad Index DTgundag ; trad.]

This song was printed in Paterson's Old Bush Songs. A.L. Lloyd recorded it for his albums Australian Bush Songs (1956) and Across the Western Plains (1958). He commented in the latter album's sleeve notes:

I have been through the town of Gundagay without remarking anything special about it, yet clearly it was an important place in the imagination of the old-time bushwhackers, for it appears in a lot of songs and tales. Flash Jack came from Gundagai, and nine miles from Gundagai the dog “sat” on the tucker-box (the dog's statue, unveiled in 1932 by the Prime Minister, J. A. Lyons, is set five miles from Gundagai, so perhaps Mr. Lyons had special information). Best loved of all the Gundagai songs is the one recorded here, of the Riverine shearers making their way to Sydney with their cheques, but getting no further than Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai. The song has often been reprinted, in Lawson's Australian Bush Songs, Vance Palmer's Old Australian Bush Ballads, Reedy River Songbook, Overlander Songbook, etc., in forms more or less identical with that published by Banjo Paterson in his Old Bush Songs.

Trevor Lucas sang this song as Lazy Harry's on his second Australian solo album of 1966, Overlander, and Martyn Wyndham-Read sang it with A.L. Lloyd joining in on chorus on The Great Australian Legend. Lloyd wrote on the latter LP's backside:

Again, Paterson's Old Bush Songs helped with the spread of this greatly admired song. Vance Palmer's Old Australian Bush Ballads gave it new impetus among revival folk singers in the 1950s. Roto is some 450 miles almost due west of Sydney, so it seems the characters in the song were well off the track, if their road led them as far south as Gundagai. Still, that's folklore.

and in the accompanying booklet:

Work like horses, spend like asses, used to be said of the oldtime shearers. They would knock up a sizeable cheque in the shearing sheds, and then set out for a spree in the distant city. The chances were, they'd get no more than halfway before they'd spent the lot. Perhaps that's why the otherwise unremarkable town of Gundagai shows so prominently in the folk song. It lies just about midway between the big sheds of the New South Wales Riverina and the bright lights of Sydney. Many a shearer, making his way towards the capital with his cheque, got no further than Lazy Harry's grog-shop on the road from Wagga to Gundagai.

Roto is a station in South Central NSW. Gundagai lies on what is now the main road from Sydney to Melbourne, the Hume Highway. More songs mention Gundagai than any other town in Australia.

Lyrics

Trevor Lucas sings Lazy Harry

Oh, we started out from Roto, when the sheds had all cut out
We'd whips and whips of money as we meant to push about;
And we humped our blueys serenely as we made for Sydney town,
With a three-spot cheque between us that wanted knocking down.

Chorus:
We camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai, five miles from Boonabri;
Yes, we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Oh, we struck the Murumbidgee near the Yanco in a week,
And we passed through old Narrandera, and crossed the Burnett Creek;
And we never stopped at Wagga, for we'd Sydney in our eye,
But we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

(Repeat first chorus)

Well, I've seen lots of girls, me lads, and I've drunk a lot of beer,
And I've met with some of both, lads, that all left me pretty queer.
But for beer to knock you sideways and for girls to make you cry,
You should camp at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Chorus:
You should camp at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai, five miles from Boonabri;
You should camp at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Oh, we chucked our flamin' swag down and walked into the bar
And ordered rum and raspberry and a shilling each cigar;
But the girl that served the poison, she winked at Bill and I,
So we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

(Repeat first chorus)

In a week the spree was over and our cheque was all knocked down,
So we shouldered our matildas and turned our backs on town.
And the girls stood us a nobbler as we sadly said goodbye,
And we tramped from Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Chorus:
We tramped from Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai, five miles from Boonabri;
Yes we we tramped from Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sings On the Road to Gundagai

Oh, we started out from Roto, when the sheds had all cut out.
We'd whips and whips of rhino as we meant to push about;
We humped our blueys serenely and made for Sydney town,
With a three-spot cheque between us that wanted knocking down.

Chorus:
And we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai, five miles from Boonabri;
Yes, we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Well, we struck the Murumbidgee near the Yanco in a week,
And passed through Narrandera, and crossed the Burnett Creek;
And we never stopped at Wagga, for we'd Sydney in our eye,
And we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

(Repeat first chorus)

Well, I've seen a lot of girls, me boys, and drunk a lot of beer,
I've met with some of both, me lads, that's left me pretty queer.
But for beer to knock you sideways and girls to make you cry,
You should camp at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Chorus:
You should camp at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai, five miles from Boonabri;
You should camp at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Well, we chucked our flamin' swags off and walked up to the bar,
We called fo rum and raspberry and a shilling each cigar;
But the girl that served the poison, she winked at Bill and I,
So we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Chorus:
Oh, we camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai, five miles from Boonabri;
We camped at Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

In a week the spree was over and our cheque was all knocked down,
So we shouldered our matildas and turned our backs on town.
And the girls stood us a nobbler as we sadly said goodbye,
And we tramped from Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Chorus:
Yes, we tramped from Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai,
The road to Gundagai, five miles from Boonabri;
Yes, we we tramped from Lazy Harry's on the road to Gundagai.

Acknowledgements

Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs and adapted to the actual singing of Trevor Lucas and Martyn Wyndham-Read.