Tramping Songs
Rod Thomson (2010)

I Don't Go Tramping Now (Key D) by Rod Thomson

This song is also adapted from an old Australian shearing song, Martin Wyndham-Read's fine version of I Don't Go Shearing Now, from the poem by 'John Drayman' (W A Woods).

So you're off to do the Three Pass Trip, before the autumn chills
And dodge those wild nor'westers, that come roaring through the hills
To wait until the rivers drop, and the sun is shining clear
As you plod along from Klondyke, with the new-chums at the rear
Then up the Taipoiti, to the passes and the tops
Where the little huts are waiting, 'mid the peaks and scree and rocks

Yes, I have been there before, guys; and I know exactly how
The mountains can affect you, though I don't go tramping now.

When you lift that pack to shoulders that are lean, and fit, and strong
And you laugh at days of rain and cold, and more than twelve hours long
Through the trash and tangled debris of a streambed fresh from flood
Or a squelching sucking stumble through the Arahura mud
But on the tops at daybreak, from a fly camp near the peak
It's an easy scramble up there, and the best view for a week.

Those were days we all remember; and I know exactly how
We yarned about them later, though I don't go tramping now.

How those tramping parties strung out, as the pace began to tell
And you wished your pack was lighter, and your boots would fit as well
How the chatter soon subsided, and the sweat began to form,
While the hill you faced got steeper, just as the trip notes warned
And you yearned to stop for scroggin, or a drink, or just a word
With that hardened party leader, out in front, who never heard

I recall such days a-plenty; and I know exactly how
The huts were our salvation, though I don't go tramping now.

How I'd love to travel with you, up the Mingha or the Crow
Hear the old Waimakariri rushing endless in its flow
Or the crash of distant ice falls on those peaks so cold and clear
And the avalanches' rumble, or the calling of the kea.
Every year I get this longing, as the spring brings tramping nigh
To get my boots and pack out, and to have another try

But the missus made me promise; and she knows exactly how
The rheumatism gets me, so I don't go tramping now.


"One of the Has-Beens" (Key A or Bb) by Rod Thomson

Tune - Pretty Little Polly Perkins

Adapted from Gary Shearston's version of the old Australian shearing song of the same title.
All the place names are from the Arthurs Pass National Park. The "Terrible Cow" is the Taramakau River. Geoff Spearpoint and Sven Brabyn are well-known trampers and authors. Rangiora, Peninsula and Christchurch are all Canterbury tramping clubs. "Keep up or die" is the unofficial motto of the Tararua Tramping Club (Wellington).

I'm one of the has-beens, a tramper I mean.
I once was a leader with a real head of steam.
I could scree-run and boulder-hop down the Terrible Cow;
But you may not believe me, 'cause I can't do it now.

    I'm as awkward as a new chum and I'm used to the sigh
    That the leader now gives me, saying 'keep up or die.'

I've tramped with Rangiora and Peninsula clubs
With the Christchurch down the Waimak to the old Bealey pub.
With Spearpoint and Brabyn, the best they could find;
But not one among them could leave me behind.

    I'm as awkward as a new chum, and I'm used to the frown
    That the leader now gives me, saying 'keep up or drown.'

I've bush-bashed up Binser, and splashed down the Crow
Swum my pack down the Poulter in a hell of a flow.
With ice axe and crampons climbed Avalanche Peak
Seen a real West Coast rainstorm flood Seven Mile Creek

    But I'm awkward as a new chum, and I'm used to the glare
    That the leader now gives me, saying 'don't stand and stare.'

Well, it's no use complaining, I'll never say die.
Though the days of fast tramping for me have gone by.
I'll take the world easy, plod steady and slow,
And watch from the tail-end those gun trampers go.

    I'm as awkward as a new chum, and I'm last to the hut
    But the leader has a brew on, and I bless my good luck.