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(@Frank Daniel)
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G’day all,
     Due to poor health over the past few years and at times an overburden of work in relation to the Australian Bush Poets Association Inc, (to which I am totally devoted as Editor), I haven’t followed the forum on this site as religiously as I once did.
     My own site is not current anymore I’m sad to say, but hopefully, one day, I’ll get it going again. It was one of the foremost sites on the net for finding lost poetry etc., and from 1995 onwards I answered somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 requests (albeit many repeats) for lost poetry, mostly via private emails but many on the forum, or found answers through members of the forum.
     After a number of enquiries I researched ‘Tumba-Bloody-Rumba’ about eight years ago to determine the real author.
I have no doubt at all that the writer was John O’Grady (aka Nino Cullota author of ‘Their a Weird Mob’ c. 1956)
     However in research I found claims that the poem was supposed to have been written a J. Woolfe (note the spelling) but later found a song written by a John Wolfe (note again the spelling).
I contacted a number of Woolfes and Wolfes in the Tumbarumba, Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Narromine areas as my leads carried me on. None of them, surprisingly enough, had any knowledge of such person, some hadn’t even heard of the poem.
     I found the poem accredited on more than one occasion to ‘Anonymous’; more than once to John O’Brien (Father Patrick Joseph Hartigan) and as well as the above Wolfe/Woolfes, to a bloke named Will Carter.   
The version published on these pages from ‘Babe’ is the correct one but it was not written by John O’Brien (later corrected) but by John O’Grady.
     I have enclosed a copy of the song version written by John Wolfe with accompanying credits for those of you who might like to know.

(This score available as ABC, SongWright, PostScript, DVI, or a MusicTeX fragment)
Pennywhistle notation and Dulcimer tab for this song is also available

by John Wolfe

He asked for work at muster-time,
We tried him as a rider,
We tried him out as the roustabout,
And as the cook's offsider,

He had sailed the seven seas,
He'd been up in Alaska,
He'd been in every western state
From Texas to Nebraska.

He said he'd shorn a sheep or two,
      And cut a bit of lumber,
      And waged war on the kangaroo,
    At Tumba-bloody-rumba

We had him in the shearing shed,
We put him on the stacker,
We tried him digging rabbits out,
He wasn't worth a cracker,

He had a shop in Singapore,
He owned a pearling lugger,
He was a champ at baccarat,
Australian rules and rugger.


He never showed his aptitude,
On work he was allotted,
But showed his skill upon the drinks
And cigarettes he botted,

He said he'd climbed the Matterhorn,
He'd been a union leader,
And years ago in Adelaide
He was a pigeon breeder.


We tried him cutting fencing posts,
We tried to find his caper,
Until that happy pay-day when
He got his piece of paper.

I wonder what he's doing now,
Perhaps back on the lumber,
Or shooting kanga-bloody-roos,
At Tumba-bloody-rumba.

The Man from Tumbarumba is a typical bush character in this familiar story of a bragging man who has done everything - a jack of all trades.
Regarding the chorus, note that at various times and locations
in Australia, kangaroos have been (are) considered vermin and are
The words were written by John Wolfe, and the British traditional tune "The Jack of All Trades" was fitted to it by Warren Fahey. Copyright control by Larrikin Music.
Australian rules: Australian Rules football
Bot: to borrow or sponge off
Caper: occupation, skills
Muster: round-up
Offsider: helper, assistant
Pearling Lugger: a pearling ship; common on the northwest coast of Australia and, especially in days past, a significant part of that area economy.
Rugger: Rugby
Stacker: a machine used for compressing shorn wool into large bales for transport.
Warren Fahey and the Larrikins! A Larrikin History of Australia!
Larrikin 202 (Australia, 1988)
Warren Fahey and the Larrikins! Waltzing Matilda: Songs of the
Australian Bush! Larrikin CDLRF 118 (Australia, 1990)

Posted : 30/04/2007 6:44 pm
Posts: 0
New Member

         Some of the information that I got in this thread will be a big help to my problem.,Speaking of Alaska I am planning to have some vacation to that place .,Maybe this week.,

Posted : 17/10/2009 2:08 am
Posts: 429
Honorable Member

Hi Frank, 

How are you doing these days?  I haven't heard how you're going, but often wonder about you.

Keep well Frank,


Posted : 17/10/2009 3:06 am