The object of the present publication is to gather together all the old bush songs that are worth remembering.
Apart from other considerations, there are many Australians who will be reminded by these songs of the life of the shearing sheds, the roar of the diggings townships, and the campfires of the overlanders. The diggings are all deep sinking now, the shearing is done by contract, and the cattle are sent by rail to market, while newspapers travel all over Australia; so there will be no more bush ballads composed and sung, as these were composed and sung, as records of the early days of the nation.
In their very roughness, in their absolute lack of any mention of home ties or of the domestic affections, they proclaim their genuineness. They were collected from all parts of Australia, and have been patched together by the compiler to the best of his abilities, with the idea of presenting the song as nearly as possible as it was sung, rather than attempting to soften any roughness or irregularity of metre.
Attempts to ascertain the names of the authors have produced contradictory statements, and no doubt some of the songs were begun by one man and finished or improved by another, or several others. Some few fairly recent ballads have been included, but for the most part no attempt has been made to include any of the more ambitious literary productions of modern writers.
This collection is intended to consist of the old bush songs as they were sung in the early days, and as such it is placed before the reader.
Most cordial thanks are due to those who have sent contributions, and it is hoped that others who can remember any old songs not included here will forward them for inclusion in a future edition.
A. B. Paterson (editor), The Old Bush Songs, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1905, pp. v-vi
deep sinking = mining deep in the ground, especially regarding gold mining
diggings = a mining locality (e.g. the gold diggings of the 1850s, where miners would work in mines, and camp nearby); an area where mining is occurring or has occurred, i.e. an area where the mines are in current use, or an area where the mines have been abandoned (and not replaced by another usage, such as farming, housing, or suburbs); a place where metals, ore, or precious stones have been dug out of the ground on a wide scale; a mining operation
metre = the rhythmic arrangement or pattern of a poem, song, or piece of music (also spelt: meter)
overlander = a drover who drove animals long distances on overland stock routes, especially through remote areas
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]