The Reedy Lagoon

Well-to-do young men would be sent bush to work for a while as “jackeroo” on the bigger stations. As well as gaining an education in the ways a station ran, they would sometimes be expected to entertain the squatter’s family in the evenings and a whole class of song developed, written by these often anonymous young men. Sometimes, the bush workers would hear these songs and roughen them up a bit and take them on the road. The numerous variations on this song show that it was probably very popular in its time. Banjo Patterson, though not a jackeroo, wrote Waltzing Matilda for a similar evening’s entertainment. The tune Cobbers used for this was written by John Armstrong


The bloom of the wattle spreads perfume around

Enticing the bird and the bee

As I lie at full length in a fern covered nest

In the shade of a Currajong tree

And high overhead, I can hear the sweet strains

Of a butcherbird whistling his tune

For the spring in her glory is back once again

To the banks of the reedy lagoon


I've carried my swag now for many a mile

My boots are all worn at the toes

And I'm dressing this season in a far different style

To that of last season, God knows

My cooking utensils, I'm sorry to say

Consist of a fork and a spoon

And there’s dry beef and tay in a battered Jack Shea

By the banks of the reedy lagoon


I remember young Frankie, oh, couldn’t he ride

And Willie that light-hearted boy?

And young Jimmy who’s recently taken a bride

And intends his young life to enjoy

And Big Mac, the Scotsman, I once heard him say

He'd wrestled the famous Muldoon

But they're all far away and I’m lonesome today

By the banks of the reedy lagoon


Oh where is the woman I oft times caressed

The one with the sad dreamy eyes?

She nestles her head now on another man's breast

and he tells her the very same lies

She swore she would love me where e’er I might fare

Now sad is my bed neath the moon

But it's little I care, for I couldn’t keep square

By the banks of the reedy lagoon