Eumerella Shore, The
DESCRIPTION: "There's a happy little valley by the Eumerella Shore Where I've lingered many happy hours away...." The singer rejoices to be free of the squatters, or even to be able to steal their cattle. He encourages his animals to enjoy their freedom
EARLIEST DATE: 1905 (Paterson's _Old Bush Songs_); Stewart/Keesing-FavoriteAustralianBallads claim that there was an earlier version in the Launceston Examier of March 7, 1861
KEYWORDS: Australia farming freedom outlaw
1861 - Sir John Robertson (called Jack Robertson in the song) passes the New South Wales Free Selection Act, allowing the poorer members of the population freer access to land
FOUND IN: Australia
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Meredith/Anderson-FolkSongsOfAustralia, pp. 155-156, "The Eumerella Shore"; p. 238, "The Noomanally Shore" ; pp. 278-279, "The Neumerella Shore" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Anderson-StoryOfAustralianFolksong, pp. 211-213, " The Eumarella Shore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manifold-PenguinAustralianSongbook, pp. 106-107, "Eumerella Shore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Covell/Brown-FolkSongsOfAustraliaVol2, pp. 272-273, "The Umeralla Shore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Paterson/Fahey/Seal-OldBushSongs-CentenaryEdition, pp. 162-165, "The Numerella Shore" (1 text)
Scott-ACollectorsNotebook-31TraditionalSongs, p. 13, "The Numeralla Shore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ward-PenguinBookOfAustralianBallads, p. 88, "The Euerella Shore" (1 text)
Stewart/Keesing-FavoriteAustralianBallads, pp. 62-63, "The Numerella Shore" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Bill Wannan, _The Australians: Yarns, ballads and legends of the Australian tradition_, 1954 (page references are to the 1988 Penguin edition), pp. 71-72, "The Eumerella Shore" (1 text)
A. K. MacDougall, _An Anthology of Classic Australian Lore_ (earlier published as _The Big Treasury of Australian Foiklore_), The Five Mile Press, 1990, 2002, p. 150, "The Eumerella Shore" (1 text)
Bill Beatty, _A Treasury of Australian Folk Tales & Traditions_, 1960 (I use the 1969 Walkabout Paperbacks edition), pp. 272-273, "The Eumerella Shore" (1 text)
cf. "Darling Nelly Gray" (tune)
NOTES [312 words]: Manifold-PenguinAustralianSongbook notes that Australia boasts a Eumerella River in Victoria, while New South Wales has a Umerella (Numerella) River; versions of the song use both names. The reference to John Robertson implies a New South Wales setting -- but of course the song could have spread.
Manifold thinks this is a satire of the free selection movement, and I think he is right. (For a more positive view of the situation, see "The Old Bullock Dray.")
Davey/Seal, p. 107, declare, "This 1860s ballad of free selection and cattle duffing (stealing) is set in the Monaro (N[ew] S[outh] W[ales]) region, rather than the Eumerella River in Victoria.
On the other hand, Manifold-Ballads, p. 99, says that "In either district there were plenty of cattle, jealous owners and potential thieves"; he suspects Eumerella is the original.
Beatty in a subhead calls this "A Cattle Duffer's Song." "Duffing" was the process of rebranding cattle and hiding them until they could be passed off as part of the duffer's own herd; Morris, p. 128, defines it as "to steal cattle by altering the brands" and gives a citation from 1869. A duffer is, of course, one who duffs cattle, although Morris, p. 129, cannot cite an instance from before 1890, which is probably after this song was written.
"Selection," or "Free-selection," is "The process of selecting or choosing land under the Land Laws, or the right to choose"; Morris, p. 153, first cites the word from 1865. Since free selection did not begin until the 1860s, the free selectors were in competition with the squatters, who had taken their lands without legal license, but who had been there first (Morris's first Australian use of the word is from 1835; Morris, p. 431).
Stewart/Keesing-FavoriteAustralianBallads attribute this to "Cockatoo Jack." which obviously could be anyone. They think the river is the Eumerella.- RBW
Last updated in version 5.2
- Davey/Seal: Gwenda Beed Davey and Graham Seal, A Guide to Australian Folklore, Kangaroo Press, 2003
- Manifold-Ballads: John S. Manifold, Who Wrote the Ballads? Notes on Australian Folksong, Australasian Book Society, 1964
- Morris: Edward E. Morris, A Dictionary of Austral English, 1898 (I use the 1972 Sydney University Press with a new foreword but no new content)
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