The Squatter’s Farewell [song, 1 November 1884]

[Editor: This song was published in The Queenslander, 1 November 1884. It was also included in Banjo Paterson’s collection, The Old Bush Songs (1905), under the title of “The Broken-Down Squatter”, with some variations.]

The Squatter’s Farewell.

A.D. 1885.

Come, “Stumpy,” old man, we must shift while we can;
All your mates in the paddock are dead:
Let us wave our farewells to Glen Eva’s sweet dells,
And the hills where your lordship was bred;
Together to roam from our drought-stricken home;
It seems hard that such things have to be;
And it’s hard on a “hoss” when he’s nought for a boss
But a broken-down squatter like me.

No more shall we muster the river for fats,
Or spiel on the fifteen-mile plain;
Or rip through the scrub by the light of the moon,
Or see the old stockyard again.
Leave the slip-panels down; it won’t matter much now;
There are none but the crows left to see,
Perching gaunt in yon pine, as though longing to dine
On a broken-down squatter like me.

When the country was cursed with the drought at its worst,
And the cattle were dying in scores,
Though down on my luck I kept up my pluck,
Thinking justice might temper the laws.
But the farce has been played, and the Government aid
Ain’t extended to squatters, old son;
When my dollars were spent then they trebled the rent
And resumed the best half of the run.

’Twas done without reason, for, barring the season,
No squatter could stand such a rub;
For it’s useless to squat when the rents are so hot
That one can’t save the price of one’s grub;
And there’s not much to choose ’twixt the banks and the Jews
Once a fellow gets put up a tree;
No odds what I feel, there’s no Court of Appeal
For a broken-down squatter like me.


The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.), Saturday 1 November 1884, page 705

Editor’s notes:
fats = fatstock, livestock which are fat and ready for market

grub = food

hoss = horse

squatter = in the context of Australian history, a squatter was originally someone who kept their livestock (mostly cattle and sheep) upon Crown land without permission to do so (thus illegally occupying land, or “squatting”); however, the practice became so widespread that eventually the authorities decided to formalise it by granting leases or licenses to occupy or use the land; and, with the growth of the Australian economy, many of the squatters became quite rich, and the term “squatter” came to refer to someone with a large amount of farm land (they were often regarded as rich and powerful)

Speak Your Mind