The Sleeper Cutters Camp

I can hear the axes ringing,
And the gum trees falling down,
I can see the broad axe swinging,
To hew the billets down.
I can hear the hammers striking
On the wedges in the groove,
And the Kookaburras laughing,
In the tree tops up above.

We work all day at sleepers,
Till the sun is going west,
We drop our tools and head for camp,
The place that we like best.
We get the billies boiling,
The meat all right to eat,
We sit and have our humble meal,
Of butter, bread and meat.

At daylight in the morning,
When the birds begin to sing,
You can hear the camp a-moving,
All our thoughts are on one thing.
To get out to our axes,
And put a tally up,
For soon we’ll have a holiday,
And see the Melbourne Cup.

And when we’ve spent our money,
Back to the bush we’ll roam,
And take the track that winds us back,
To the camp our home, sweet home,
We called at every pub
On the journey going down,
But we called at every waterhole,
Coming back from town.


Collected by Dr Percy Jones from Jack Chandler, no date or location known, who claimed to have written it. However Nancy Keesing noted that Chandler had also claimed authorship of “several old English songs” so this claim may or may not be correct. From Old Bush Songs (Stewart & Keesing) 1957, p. 192.

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