Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems


The Man from Waterloo

(With kind regards to ‘Banjo’)


It was the man from Waterloo,

When work in town was slack,

Who took the track as bushmen do,

And humped his swag out back.

He tramped for months without a bob,

For most of the sheds were full,

Until at last he got a job

At picking up the wool.


He found the work was rather rough,

But to swore to see it through,

For he was made of sterling stuff –

The man from Waterloo.


The first remark was like a stab

That fell his ear upon,

‘Twas ‘There’s another something scab’

The boss has taken on!’

They couldn’t let the towny be –

They sneered like anything;

They’d mock him when  he’d sound the ‘g’

In words that end in ‘ing’.


There a came a man from Ironbark,

And at the shed he shore;

He scoffed his victuals like a shark,

And like a fiend he swore.

He’d shorn his flowing beard that day –

He found it hard to reap –

Because ‘twas hot and in the way

While he was shearing sheep.


His loaded fork and grimy holt,

Was poised, his jaws moved fast,

Impatient till his throat could bolt

The mouthful taken last.

He couldn’t stand a something toff,

Much less a jackaroo;

And swore to take the trimmings off

The man from Waterloo.


The towny saw he must be up

Or else be underneath,

And so one day, before them all,

He dared to clean his teeth.


The men came running from the shed,

And shouted ‘Here’s a lark!’

‘It’s gone to clean it’s tootsies!’ said

The man from Ironbark.

His feeble joke was much enjoyed;

He sneered as bullies do,

And with a scrubbing-brush he guyed

The man from Waterloo.


The jackaroo made a remark

But peeled and waded in,

And soon the man from Ironbark

Had three teeth less to grin!

And when they knew that he could fight

They saw to see him through,

Because they saw that he was right –

The man from Waterloo.


Now in a shop in Sydney near

The Bottle on the Shelf,

The tale is told – with trimmings – by

The Jackaroo himself.

‘They made my life a hell,’ he said;

‘They wouldn’t let me be;

They set the bully of the shed

To take it out of me.


‘The dirt was on him like a sheath,

He seldom washed his phiz;

He sneered because I cleaned my teeth –

I guess I dusted his!

I treated them as they deserved –

I signed on one or two!

They won’t forget me soon,’ observed

The man from Waterloo.

© Henry Lawson

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