You’re Joking! Milk in Billy Tea!


The gidyea stumps were packed four high
and lit by half past three,
for Kingsley knew that damper coals
took time to come to be.

By half past four he gave a shout,
“Them dampers ready yet?”
Then as he put the coals in place
Dawn answered him, “You bet!”

‘Round five o’clock the gidyea flames
were flick’ring to and fro.
Four blackened billies hung in place
all warming to their glow.

The two camp ovens then were checked,
their contents crisp and brown
and emptied out to cool a bit
before the crowds came down.

Then as five thirty came around
King’s cowbell rang its call.
Hey billy tea and damper’s on,
there’s plenty here for all!

And soon the place was packed with folks
from all around this land,
all anxious to try out King’s brew
and armed with mugs in hand.

“As hosts both Dawn and I extend
a welcome to our Park.
We’ve billy tea and damper folk,
but wish to just remark.

Last night the old dear here in front
had quietly said to me.
“You wouldn’t have some milk eh love
to put in this here tea.”

“You’re joking love,” I said to her,
“put milk in billy tea?
You’d bugger up a bushman’s brew
with milk in billy tea!

So now you know my feelings folk
you do what you must do.
There’s milk there if you have a need
I’ll leave it up to you.

Just form a queue and as you pass
I’ll poor the brew on out. ”
Then when it came the old dear’s turn
of whom King spoke about.

He said a wee sacastic’ly,
“I’ll leave room on the top,
so you can put some cow juice in,
I know you like a drop.”

“You’re joking King,” she said to him,
“put milk in billy tea?
You fill the darn thing to the top.
I like mine black you see! ”

From the book You’re Joking! Milk in Billy Tea.

Every evening at 5.30 p.m. Kingsley rang the cowbell, inviting all the Homestead Park residents to come and join them for billy tea and damper. He’d welcome everyone and then suggest they try drinking the tea black. But if anyone desperately had a need to bugger up a good mug of tea; milk was provided. Many were surprised to find how much they enjoyed it black.

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  1. I’ve never been a tea drinker, and I have no idea how Billy Tea differs, but I do know it’s not common to put milk in any tea.


    • Many say it’s just the way the water is boiled in an well used Billy over an open fire and adding the tea leaves and swinging the Billy to let them settle. I feel it’s safer to just tap the side with a stick and let them settle. Can be a bit embarrassing if the handle comes adrift.


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