Once a jolly swagman is known so well,
Waltzing Matilda, a great story to tell,
Of a down and out swaggie just wandering around,
It was probably a year since he'd earned a full pound.

Now Winton's a town well in the out back,
It would take weeks to reach it along the bush track,
Yet, three well fed troopers with the law on their side,
attempted to arrest him. He had no place to hide.

The police force in those days weren't many, so small
To rush three of them to Winton was no trouble at all
They did not travel QANTAS, Ansett or car,
A thousand miles on horse back apparently not far.
To catch a poor wretch with a sheep in his sack,
who dived into the billa-bong and never came back.

Now there are police by the thousands all over the state,
And crime is increasing at an alarming rate.
Most police are engaged in traffic control,
Drink drivers, radar traps seems to be their main role.

On Bulimba we were burgled in May ninety-eight,
We reported it, so that police could investigate.
They are busy, I know, they have cars, phones and all.
But gee! It would be nice if they gave us a call.

It's about one hundred years since the Winton affair,
And the swagman's ghost still appears out there.
I may move there to live if law and order were better
But the cops there with radar bring law to the letter.

If you have stolen a jumbuck maybe it's OK
and robbed two banks by the end of the day
Just don't drive by that Billa-bong doing forty k's or so
Or they will probably pinch you for driving too slow.

Roy Bliss. 1998.

Published with the kind permission of Roy Bliss of Bulimba.

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