Bullocky Song

A bullocky is an Australian historical cattle industry word for bullock driver or drover.

The Europeans colonized the inland area of northern Australia by claiming vast areas of cheap pasture to raise cattle. The Aboriginal men and women who were forced to work this land were the backbone of the cattle industry. The Wardaman sang this Gujingga song to keep the cattle happy while and after droving the cattle great distances. They were sorry to see the cattle go and leave to be slaughtered. This was the world Yidumduma grew up in as a little "cowboy" at 7 years of age in the 1930's.

The Wardaman received food rations in exchange for their labour and were free to go "Walkabout" and fulfill ceremonial obligations during the wet season, keeping their contact with their traditional land. These areas now form the largest cattle stations or ranches in the world.

This industry fed the American and Australian troops that pushed back the Japanese in WW2.

The Wardaman drove the early European pastoralists from their traditional landsbut were finally subdued and forced to work for the big English Pastroal Company, Vestey's. Into this white man's world Yidumduma began work at 8 years of age in the stock-camps. He spent time droving, branding, training horses or horse tailoring, building fences, making ropes and saddles from cattle hides. He eventually became head stockman. Despite the harshness of the work, he remembers it fondly, speaking sadly of being forced off the land by station owners after Aboriginal people were granted equal pay in 1967.

Related Links:
Night Herding Song
 Art of Cattle Droving
Bull Buggies....Outback Cattle Mustering Kimberley Style


Return to Bullocky Song

Transcript

Bullocky​ Song Gujingga

Jiwang golanei buligi (bullocky)-ma  laja laja gunanga
Come on, let’s go on the track, you big mob of cattle.

 The droving days are over
Nobody is singing any of those songs.

The stock routes are idling.
The sound that the people used to make,
even the white man was singing too,
the drover boss, he didn't have much of a song,
but he used to whistle a lot...
going around mumbling,
but the Aboriginal had a great big voice.
They used to sing all that...
they go along, all the way.
They take the cows, deliver them to the area...
to the place close to the trucking yard..
when they yarded them up, the old boys were sorry to see those old cow go,
to be slaughtered in the meat-works...
then they come home.
They were the droving days, all gone now and all the sound and song...
That's... the old drovers song...
just to demonstrate a little bit...

I liked that song... I used to sing when I was a kid.

Return to Bullocky Song