Project Description

The Banks of the Condamine is sung as a duet between Willie (a man eager to join his shearing mates in one of the sheds) and his beloved Nancy (who pleads to go with him rather than being left behind). There are several different versions of this popular song; for example, in some versions, the man is going to join his mates at a horse-breaking camp instead of a shearing shed.

This song was first published in The Queenslander in 1894 as Banks of the Riverine, referencing an area in southern New South Wales. The words appear to be a make-over of a 19th Century British ballad Banks of the Nile, which tells of a British soldier going off to war in Egypt at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The melody is related to one that had been used for an Irish folk song.

The Banks of the Condamine appears to have been one of the most widely distributed of Australian bush songs. It had been reported from singers in northern Victoria and the Northern Territory, along with versions from New South Wales and Queensland.

Folk songs about work are fairly common in Australia, but songs about love are somewhat harder to find. The Banks of the Condamine is perhaps the best known of this rare species.

This arrangement of Banks of the Condamine is 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 this arrangement of Banks of the Condamine are available below.

The Banks of the Condamine SATB with piano