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The humorous AB "Banjo" Paterson's Hell, Hay and Booligal that immortalized several phrases including "deliver us from Booligal" and "far and wide along the Riverina side", paints a difficult picture of life on the saltbush plains. However, Lewis and MaryAnn Bell and their family always wrote with pleasure about being at "Alma", Booligal or of returning to it from Melbourne.

Hell, Hay and Booligal by AB (Banjo) Paterson

“You come and see me, boys,” he said;
“You’ll find a welcome and a bed
    And whisky any time you call;
Although our township hasn’t got
The name of quite a lively spot—
    You see, I live in Booligal.

“And people have an awful down
Upon the district and the town—
    Which worse than hell itself the call;
In fact, the saying far and wide
Along the Riverina side
    Is ‘Hay and Hell and Booligal’.

“No doubt it suits ’em very well
To say its worse than Hay or Hell,
    But don’t you heed their talk at all;
Of course, there’s heat—no one denies—
And sand and dust and stacks of flies,
    And rabbits, too, at Booligal.

“But such a pleasant, quiet place—
You never see a stranger’s face;
    They hardly ever care to call;
The drovers mostly pass it by—
They reckon that they’d rather die
    Than spend the night in Booligal.

“The big mosquitoes frighten some—
You’ll lie awake to hear ’em hum—
    And snakes about the township crawl;
But shearers, when they get their cheque,
They never come along and wreck
    The blessed town of Booligal.

“But down to Hay the shearers come
And fill themselves with fighting-rum,
    And chase blue devils up the wall,
And fight the snaggers every day,
Until there is the deuce to pay—
    There’s none of that in Booligal.

“Of course, there isn’t much to see—
The billiard-table used to be
    The great attraction for us all,
Until some careless, drunken curs
Got sleeping on it in their spurs,
    And ruined it, in Booligal.

“Just now there is a howling drought
That pretty near has starved us out—
    It never seems to rain at all;
But, if there should come any rain,
You couldn’t cross the black-soil plain—
    You’d have to stop in Booligal.”

“We’d have to stop!” With bated breath
We prayed that both in life and death
    Our fate in other lines might fall:
“Oh, send us to our just reward
In Hay or Hell, but, gracious Lord,
    Deliver us from Booligal!”

Information about Booligal        Information about Hay        Hay Historical Society

There are many interesting old pictures of the Hay District in the 19th century available from the local newspaper, The Riverine Grazier, Hay.