Lazy Harry’s, a very well-known Australian folksong, is sometimes referred to as The Road to Gundagai, not to be confused with another song called Along the Road to Gundagai. Gundagai is a small town in New South Wales that has become a popular topic for writers as being representative of a typical Australian country town. More folksongs mention Gundagai than any other town in Australia. Located on the Murrumbidgee River, Gundagai is 390 kilometres south-west of Sydney.
It has been said of the old-time shearers that they would “work like horses and spend like asses”. They would work long, back-breaking hours in the sheds during the shearing season, knock up a sizeable pay cheque and then set out for a “spree” in the distant city. Chances were that they would spend most, if not all, of the money before making it to their intended goal. Such is the story told in Lazy Harry’s, of two shearing mates who set out from Roto (a sheep station in south central New South Wales), at the end of the season, with a large cheque between them, heading for Sydney, but finding the beer and the girls in Gundagai far too tempting.
These two arrangements of Lazy Harry’s are part of a larger collection of choral arrangements of 20 Australian folk song titles. The works were commissioned in 2022 by the Queensland Kodály Choir as a legacy project of Australian Choral Music and are collectively available in a two-part anthology titled On a Distant Shore.
The Queensland Kodály Choir has generously determined that these anthologies and all of their associated resources should be made freely available to anyone who would like to make use of them. To facilitate this, whilst each of the arrangements is copyright, the full set of project resources has been licensed under Creative Commons International Licence, meaning that they can be freely shared, copied and/or redistributed.
Conductors/choirs wishing to access the Anthology – Parts 1 & 2 – and/or the companion rehearsal tracks, can do so by following the link to the Cuskelly College of Music website. The complete individual titles (including cover title page, vocal score, piano accompaniment, extracted instrument parts, performance notes and glossary of terms) are available in the Anthology Catalogue on this website.
Perusal and download copies of the three arrangements of Lazy Harry’s are available below.
Featured Image: “Sly Grog Shanty” by S.T. Gill, public domain, State Library of Victoria.