Budgee Budgee Song

Every true Australian has heard of Henry Lawson and his poems and stories and his involvement with republicanism, socialism and feminism. Hardly anyone has heard of the other Lawson brothers Peter, known as ‘Birdie’ and Charles who composed and wrote the words of the Budgee Budgee Song.

On a visit to Budgee Budgee some years ago, Ivan known as ‘Curly’ Lawson reminisced about them both. ‘Curly’ and his sister Gladys, who owned a cake shop in West Ryde, were Peter’s children. He talked about the origin of the song and that Charley and Peter had written it in the 1920s for a contest sponsored by a newspaper.

Gladys and ‘Curly’ were only small children at the time and his memory of his uncles’ visits was limited. Henry had died in 1922 and a visit by him to their Ashfield home would have been a rare occasion. Much clearer in memory was Charley, a bachelor, who would turn up with a bag of lollies (probably the old style boiled lollies) and a tot of rum for himself. Charley would play the squeezebox (concertina), recite, sing songs, and then drive away in a horse drawn cart with a decorative border of turned and painted wooden bars.

Some literary licence was taken in the song Budgee, words by Charles William Lawson as there never has been a town of Budgee Budgee. The music was composed by Peter James Lawson, noted for a previous work The Rosalind Waltz. The cover of the sheet music was illustrated by a niece E. Hope Lawson and stated it was ‘Composed, Designed, Printed and Published in Ashfield’. The printer was James & James. Price 2/- net (two shillings). The first performance was given at the old Ashfield cinema providing atmosphere for silent movies.

Here are the words, spelling and phrasing as they appear in the sheet music:


Verse 1
On the other side of Mudgee
At the town of Budgee Budgee
Where we used to be singing all the day
Any funny little ditty Any pretty little ditty Any sunny little tuneful lay
On the other side of Mudgee
At the town of Budgee Budgee,
Where the quandongs ripen on the range.
All the gullies would be ringing
With the sound of our singing
Till we started playing robbers for a change.

So long so long Budgee Budgee
Budgee by the ranges where the five corners grow.
So long so long Budgee Budgee
Budgee your the best of the best I know!

Verse 2
On the hills of Budgee Budgee
At the other side of Mudgee
Never more for the possums we will climb,
And the years have cast a spell on
Bandicoot and paddy melon that we hunted in that by-gone time.
O you town of Budgee Budgee
On the other side of Mudgee,
Know my worn chords waken to your name!
And I’m roaming in my dreaming and I’m seeming ever seeming
To be singing bright as ever just the same.

It is interesting to note that quandongs, paddy melons, five corners and bandicoots are rarely if ever seen today in Budgee Budgee. However possums can be heard at night but are never seen.

The spelling of the word “your” instead of “you’re” and the incorrect use of capital letters mid sentence seems to indicate Henry wasn’t the only bad speller in the family.