The Battler's Ballad

You are just a lonely battler,
And you’re waiting for a rattler,
And you wish to heaven you were never born;
For you ran to dodge a copper
And you came a dreadful cropper,
And the skin on both your hands, is cut and torn.

So hey-ho hobo,
you are just a rolling stone,
Even though you’re stony broke,
If you can still laugh and joke,
You’re as good as any king upon his throne.

You are tired and you are weary
With your eyes bloodshot and bleary,
And the soles of both your shoes are worn right through;
Your heart is sore and aching
And your back is nearly breaking,
And your coat and shirt and pants have had it too.

With fury you are boiling
But your muscles need no oiling,
As you duck to dodge the headlight’s brilliant glare;
For you’ve seen the copper’s wood-heap
And you know he’s got a good heap
And you know the tucker’s not the best in there,

Then the engine gives a whistle
And you step upon a thistle,
And get tangled up in signal wires and points;
Next you blunder in a gutter
And angrily you mutter,
Strike me lucky, well of all the joints!

Then you see the green light flashing’
An’ you hear the bumpers crashin’
And you see the great big engine rushing by;
With your swag held at the ready
Your nerves are not so steady,
For you know you’ve got to take her on the fly.

Then your swag you try to throw in
But the flamin’ thing won’t go in,
Bounces off the truck and hits you as you fall;
Pick the remnants of your swag up
Pick your billycan and bag up,
And you say, I missed the bastard after all!

Final Chorus:
So he-ho hobo,
you are just a rolling stone,
Though the skies are mighty grey,
There will surely come a day,
When you’ll own a bloody railway of your own.


Composed by Jack Weight of Coogee NSW, this song was collected by folklorist Alan Scott.
This 1930s Depression song reminds us of the battlers code "never inform, never rat, never steal from your mates"
Music score 
Vonnie Clearsky 1985 Matilda's Mob one of several versions

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