[Editor: This song was published in Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging, and Overlanding Days (8th edition, 1932), edited by Banjo Paterson.]
Now some shearing I have done, and some prizes I have won,
Through my knuckling down so close on the skin,
But I’d rather tomahawk every day than shear a flock,
For that’s the only way I make some tin.
I am just about to cut out for the Darling.
To turn a hundred out I know the plan;
Give me sufficient cash, and you’ll see me make a splash,
For I’m Tomahawking Fred, the ladies’ man.
Put me on a shearing floor, and it’s there I’m game to bet
That I’d give to any ringer ten sheep start;
When on the whipping side away from them I slide,
Just like a bullet or a dart.
Of me you might have read, for I’m Tomahawking Fred,
My shearing laurels are known both near and far;
I’m the don of Riverine, ’midst the shearers cut a shine
And our tar-boys say I never call for tar.
Wire in and go ahead, for I’m Tomahawking Fred;
In a shearing shed, my lads, I cut a shine;
There is Roberts and Jack Gunn, shearing laurels they have won,
But my tally’s never under ninety-nine.
A. B. Paterson (editor), Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging, and Overlanding Days (8th edition), Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1932, pp. 180-181
“Tomahawking Fred”, Australian Folk Songs
cut a shine = to make a show, to make a display; to stand out, to be very prominent or successful
cut out = depart, leave
Darling = the Darling River (New South Wales)
don = a distinguished or important man; a lecturer, professor, teacher, tutor, or headmaster at a college or university, especially one at Oxford University or Cambridge University (England); a Spanish title of respect used for gentlemen and noblemen (from Latin “dominus”, meaning “lord”)
laurel = distinction, fame, or honor; a recognition of one’s achievements, distinction, fame, or honor; a circular wreath (made from branches and leaves, especially laurel leaves) worn on one’s head, as a symbol of honor, because of one’s success or victory (also known as a “laurel wreath”)
ringer = the fastest shearer in a shearing shed
splash = to make a show, to make a display; to stand out, to be very prominent or successful (similar to “cut a shine”)
tar = antiseptic tar, which was applied to the skin of sheep that had been inadvertently cut by shears; in later years, when tar was replaced by antiseptic creams, the term “tar” was still used
tar-boy = in a shearing shed, this was the person who had the job of dabbing antiseptic Stockholm Tar on any sheep which had been inadvertently cut by the shears; in later years, when tar was replaced by antiseptic creams, the term “tar” was still used; the “tar boy” was often a young lad, but the role was also filled by adult men (a broad phraseology regarding age, similar to that of the position of “best boy” in the movie industry)
tin = (slang) money
tomahawk = to cut sheep whilst shearing them (in effect, to shear sheep so badly that one could be accused of using a tomahawk instead of shears)
whipping side = the right side of a sheep; the right side of a convict (as most wielders of whips were right-handed, floggers would commonly stand to the left of the convicts to flog them, with the tail end of the whip therefore doing the most damage to the middle and right side of the backs of convicts)
[Editor: The word “Chorus” (which is used once in this song) has been put into italics (Chorus) so as to distinguish it from the text of the song.]