Tracey Petersen wrote: "Click go the Shears is a song about sheep shearing by hand." (Tracey's explanation of the song and Australian vocabulary is below the lyrics.)

Click Go the Shears - Australian Children's Songs - Australia - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


Tracey wrote:

-The board is the floor of the shed where the sheep are shown.
-A "joe" is a ewe, a female sheep. When a joe has a bare belly (no wool on its belly or hind legs) it's easier/quicker to shear her.
-The 'ringer' is the shearer who shears the most sheep in that shed. He is the most experienced specialist in the shed and he is being beaten by one 'blow'.
-The "blow" is referring to his arm movement, the cutting sweep of the shears.
-A "snagger" is an unskilled shearer.
-The "boss of the board" is the contractor who employs all the shearing workers.
-The "tar boy" is a young boy who was employed to stand by with a pot of hot tar and dab it on any sheep that had been cut while being shorn to stop it bleeding.
-A "swag" is a rolled up blanket used for camping in the bush.
-The 'Colonial Experience' man is a reference to a young man sent from England to the colonies to get some colonial experience before returning home to take a role in the family or corporate business.

(Note: shears do not really make a clicking sound- poetic license is used here.)


According to the book, "Outback Songs" by Norah Kersh, the words to this song have an anonymous author and the music was by Henry Clay Work (1832 – 1884).

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Tracey Petersen for contributing and commenting on this song!

The image above is from a painting called "Shearing the Rams" by Tom Roberts (1856 - 1869).

Thank you very much!