Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Poetry - The Overlander

I've nearly finished listening to the audio book of Mary Durack's Kings in Grass Castles, the story of her pioneering grandfather & his amazing life in 19th century Queensland & the Kimberley. I already have the sequel, Sons in the Saddle, ready to download & I also have Brenda Niall's biography of Mary Durack & her sister, Elizabeth, True North, on the tbr pile. I feel a bit of an Australian pioneering history tangent coming on.
The Duracks were great drovers & moved cattle across vast distances between properties or to market. This is a traditional folk song about the drovers or overlanders. If you'd like to hear how it sounds sung by a traditional bush band, here's the Sundowners version.

Oh there's a trade you all know well it's bringing cattle over
I'll tell you all about the time that I became a drover
I wanted stock for Queensland to Kempsey I did wander
And bought a mob of duffers there and began as an overlander

So pass the bottle round boys and don't you leave it stand there
For tonight we'll drink the health of every overlander

Well when the cattle were counted and the outfit ready to start
The lads were all well mounted with their swags left in the cart
I saw I had all sorts of men from Germany France and Flanders
Lawyers doctors good and bad in the mob of overlanders

The very next morning I fed up where the grass was green and young
And the squatter said he'd break my snout if I didn't push along
Says I my lad you're very hard but dont you raise my dander
For I'm a regular knowing card I'm a Queensland overlander

If ever our horses get done up of course we turn 'em free
And you can't expect a drover to walk if a pony he can see
So now and then we bone a prad and believe me it's no slander
To say there's many a clever trick done by an overlander

In town we drain the whiskey glass and go to see the play
We never think of being hard up nor how to spend the day
We shear up to them pretty girls that rig themselves with grandeur
And as long as we spend our cheque my lads they love the overlander

A little girl on Sydney side, she said dont leave me lonely
I said it's sad but my old prad has room for one man only
And now my lads we're jogging back this pony she's a goer
We'll pick up a job with a crawling mob along the Maranoa

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