How I Took The Bait

The Northern Miner 26 August 1933. [Charters Towers]
I went broke in Western Queensland
In Nineteen Thirty One.
Nobody would employ me
So my swag career begun.

I came in via Charleville
And through the western towns
I was on the western railway,
Destination - Darling Downs.

My clothes were getting ragged
The boots were worn quite thin.
And while I was camped in Mitchell
A goods train shunted in.

And as I sat there watching
Inspiration's seed was sown;
I thought of the Government's slogan
"Use the Railways which you own."

The rightaway was given.
Her departing time was nigh,
I gathered my belongings
And took her on the "fly."

By this time, it was nightfall
Everything was going well.
But my story's not completed yet
I have some more to tell.

I heard the engine whistle.
And, on looking out, could see
We were drawing into Roma:
That was quite plain to me.

The train stopped in the goods yards
I kept my head bowed low.
When a voice spoke, "Any room there mate ?
I answered "Plenty 'bo."

"Come out of that me noble bhoy,"
A copper's voice did bawl,
"I've trapped you very nicely lad;"
You've ridden for a fall.

"And now you're caught, me laddie,
I think I'll have my say :
You've broken a railway by-law
So come along this way."

The "Beak" was very kind to me
He gave me fourteen days.
Said he, "Now this might teach you
To change your 'rattler' craze."

So, if you're broke, take my advice,
I'll tell you whet I think :
Keep off those railway goods trains;
They're a short cut to the "clink."


These are the original words to a well known song that that has a strange history. In London Australian folklorist Brad Tate found a poem titled 'Down and Outback' the the free London newspaper the Australasian Express. Within twenty minutes Brad had fitted a tune and, using the part of Tex Morton's 1937 song 'Sergeant Small', added a chorus. This song was first recorded by Ian White on his 1983 LP 'Waiting for the Rain' and many other recordings followed.

Forty years after Brad Tate's discovery in London, on 27 December 2013 Mark Gregory found the original words above, proof that the song was written during the 1930s depression as many had suspected.

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