"Click Go the Shears" is a traditional "bush ballad," which many Australians remember learning in their first years of school. The song describes the process of shearing sheep with blade shears, and the roles of the different people in the shearing shed, including the "ringer" and the "tar boy."
Variations in the Lyrics
Is it a "blue-bellied joe," a "bare-bellied ewe," or a "bare-bellied yoe?" Is there a correct, "authorized" version? Apparently not! We have chosen one set of lyrics, but if you learned it a different way, feel free to use your favourite version.
One or Two Cautions
In the last verse, the "old shearer" takes his paycheque and heads to the pub. You may or may not choose to include this verse.
Also, the original version of the verse about the "colonial experience man" (a young Englishman sent out to the colonies) uses a non-family-friendly word, and this is still used in certain recorded versions. However, even some of our Australian AO informants were not aware of that, as they were taught only the first verse, or (if they did learn the rest) that he was "smelling like a flower" (or similar words).
So if you would like to simplify the song, especially for younger children, it would be fine to sing just the first verse and the chorus.
This version by the Stringybark Band includes lots of footage and photos of sheep shearing. (The Colonial Experience man is there, "smelling pretty good.")
Rolf Harris's version is sung with much enthusiasm, and includes some spoken explanation of the difficult words. One verse refers to drinking. (Another way around the problem line: "You can hear him whistling, 'Ain't I the perfect lure?'")
This blogpost, suggested by an Australian AO user, includes a recording of a gentleman singing the song. (Caution: it does include the non-family-friendly word, and an extra verse which you might not want to sing with children.)
This recording by Slim Dusty seems to be popular. (This version includes only the first and last verses, and then switches to other songs..Also, for North Americans: it goes a bit slower!)