Brisbane Ladies, sometimes known as Augathella Station, is a traditional Australian folk song based on an English naval song titled Spanish Ladies. The song probably dates from the time of the War of the First Coalition (1793-96) when the Royal Navy carried supplies to Spain in support of that country’s resistance to revolutionary France. It then probably gained further popularity during the later Peninsular War when British soldiers were transported to Spain to assist rebels fighting against the French occupation by the forces of Napoleon. Spanish Ladies is a tale of British naval personnel sailing north from Spain and along the English Channel to their home port.
Due to its popularity, several variants of Spanish Ladies later appeared in various parts of the world. American whalers sang a version called Yankee Whalermen. In Newfoundland it appeared as We’ll Rant and We’ll Roar. Special lyrics were written to the tune for the Bluenose, a famous Canadian sailing ship plying out of Nova Scotia.
In Australia, around 1880, another set of lyrics appeared, written by Saul Mendelsohn who was a storekeeper in the small Queensland town of Nanango. Brisbane Ladies tells about the drovers who bring the herds of cattle overland from western Queensland to the markets in Brisbane. There the drovers spend most of their money and time with the ladies before setting out for home in search of the next herd of cattle to bring to market.
The places mentioned in Brisbane Ladies are mostly small towns along the stock route that stretched some 750 kilometres north-west of Brisbane towards the small town of Augathella, on the banks of the Warrego River. Augathella, at that time, marked the convergence of three major bullock tracks from Morven, Tambo and Charleville.
Arrangements are available for SATB and TTBB choirs.