The Ghost of Fred Fisher
© October 2006 Evan Schnalle

Now I’ve heard it said by sceptics that my tale is just that,
an old yarn about a ghost on a rail where I once sat.
But I’ll tell you what happened, and I know better than most,
‘cause I’m Frederick George James Fisher, well, at least I’m his ghost.
I travelled as a convict, from Portsmouth to New South Wales,
it was a mournful journey beneath the billowing sails.
We never saw the sun before we’d arrived at the quay,
and land was a glorious sight after six months at sea.

Twenty-two hundred and seven days later I was free,
Well, I had a Ticket of Leave, so free as I could be.
I was granted thirty acres after I had been released,
on condition I go to church and report to the priest.
I obeyed the rules explicitly for nigh on four years,
Until I was taken down by one of my fellow peers.
Bill Brooker was a carpenter doing some work for me,
but I could see that the work he’d done wasn’t worth he’s fee.

So when I gave him the money that I thought he was due,
he attacked me with his chisel and tried to run me through.
I stabbed him in self defence but I was thrown in the clink,
so I gave my neighbour George the authority in ink,
to farm my block like it was his own until I got out,
I now know that was a bad idea ‘cause he was a lout.
But while I was in the gaol he looked after my place well,
he milked my Friesians and kept all my chooks fed for a spell.

After my lag was over on the way back to the scrub,
I dropped in for a pint with the boys at the local pub.
I was in a hurry and could share only one drink with them,
and when I left the pub I walked into some real mayhem.
As I crossed the rickety bridge I was hit in the head,
then the cur beat me until I was well and truly dead.
He bashed my head in with a post and then he buried me,
up the creek, in a muddy marsh, where nobody would see.

Then I came back as a ghost to show a neighbouring mate,
where my body was lying in it’s gruesome mangled state.
I thought John Farley could do with the twenty quid reward,
so I pointed out to him where my body had been stored.
A copper came ‘round and searched the creek I had pointed to,
and found my rotting corpse after the drying of the dew.
George had been spinning a yarn about me going abroad,
while I was up the creek and his tale had me overawed.

He reckoned I’d gone back to mother England late one night,
by sneaking on board a ship out of the governor’s sight.
But when the cops found my body George Worrall’s yarn was checked,
and the cracks in his story made him the primary suspect.
Then they locked him up ‘cause he was wearing my dacks and socks,
he was hanged off the drop near Sydney harbour at The Rocks.
Since George was executed I’ve played pranks ‘round the place,
‘cause I can cause tomfoolery without leaving a trace.

But it’s hard to chat with people when they all run away,
and if you just calmed down I’d love to hear about your day.
I switched the lights off in the town orchestra pit one night,
and I’m real sorry the folks weren’t s’posed to get such a fright.
In nineteen seventy-three, an old bridge rail from my creek,
was taken to the race track which I thought was pretty weak.
So five times I washed out the Campbelltown Picnic Races,
by causing rain which put a dampener on their airs and graces.

My rail was moved and although it wasn’t back in the mud,
it was taken from the track so I stopped their race day flood.
Now I try to just chew the fat with some city folk,
‘cause I like to share a mag and love to hear a good joke.
So you can see I’m a nice bloke who just likes to have fun,
and about the race I knew the horse you’d backed would’na won.
So if you ever see me, remember I’m here to stay,
and if you want, come up and chat, I’d love to say G’day

    Meanings: (Macquarie Dictionary of Australian Slang)
    take down phrase: to take advantage of
    lag noun: a term of penal servitude
    drop noun: the gallows
    mag noun: a chat
The Ghost of Fred Fisher is a poem written by Evan Schnalle, Bush Poet about the story of Fisher's Ghost for Campbelltown's 50th Fishers Ghost Festival in 2006.
This poem called The Ghost of Fred Fisher is a story of Fisher's Ghost which describes the life of Fred Fisher and his Ghost. The Fisher's Ghost festival celebrates the story of Fisher's Ghost and the pranks for which Fisher was known.
Evan carrys on the traditions of AB (Banjo) Paterson, Henry Lawson, Thomas E Spencer, CJ Dennis, PJ Hartigan (John O'Brien), Adam Lindsay Gordon, Dorothea Mackellar, Harry Breaker Morant, Henry Kendall, Barcroft Henry Boake, Will Ogilvie, Francis Kenna and George Essex Evans

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