BROKEN DOWN SQUATTER - Charles Flowers, circa 1880s. Arranged and sung by Gordon Bok. SheetMusic(pdf). First published in the Queenslander in 1894. Charles Augustus Flower (1856-1948) was born in Port Fairy, Victoria and worked as a jackaroo there until moving to South West Queensland. He owned and ran properties in that area until his death in 1948.

Come, Stumpy, old man, we must shift while we can
All your mates in the paddock are dead
We must say our farewells to Glen Eva's sweet dells
And the hills where your lordship was bred
Together to roam from our drought-stricken home
Seems hard that such things have to be
And it's hard on a horse when he's naught for a boss
But a broken-down squatter like me 

     And the banks are all broken, they say
     And the merchants are all up a tree
     When the bigwigs are brought to the bankruptcy court
     What chance for a squatter like me?

No more shall we muster the river for fats
Or spiel on the fifteen-mile plain
Or dash through the scrub by the light of the moon
Or see the old homestead again
Leave the slip-railings down, they don't matter much now
For there's none but the crow left to see
Perching gaunt on the 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 me luck, I kept up me pluck
Thinking justice might soften the laws
But the farce had been played, and the government aid
Ain't extended to squatters, old son
When me money was spent, they doubled the rent
And resumed the best part of the run

It’s a mighty hard ride till we reach the divide
With the plain stretching out like the sea
But the chances seem best in the faraway west
For a broken down squatter like me
Well, they left us our hides and little besides
You have all I possess on your back
But stumpy, old sport, when we boil our next quart
We’ll be out on the Wallaby Track

"I think I first heard this from Dave de Hugard, whom I’ve never met, but whose singing has taught me a lot over the years. A sad commentary, but one repeated over the years in many countries. The last double verse was found a few years ago by Bill Scott of Warwick, who thought to look in Charles Flowers’s journals, which his family had kept.  It is not commonly sung." Gordon Bok

First published in the Queenslander in 1894 under the title "The Squatter's Farewell." A.D. 1885. Written by Charles Augustus Flower. The brothers Horace and Charles Flower, Queensland station owners, were keen songwriters in the 1880's - 90's. Charles Flower's manuscripts are in the Oxley Library, Brisbane. In 1891 the squatters were at war with the shearers in the Shearers' Strike. In 1893 the banks crashed. This tune is from Jack 'Hoopiron' Lee who was 77 and had been blind for a number of years when he was recorded by John Meredith in 1953. The ballad is based on a poem first published in the "Queenslander" in 1894 by Australian, Charles Augustus Flower (ca. 1856 - 1948). A slightly different version was published in 1905 in a book, "Old Bush Songs", by Australian poet, ballad collector and writer of the lyrics for "Waltzing Matilda", Andrew Barton ("Banjo") Paterson (1864 - 1941). The version used in the song uploaded here differs from both these first two by omitting a stanza (which had an offensive reference in the Paterson version), omitting one chorus, and re-ordering two stanzas. Also, the melody is different than the one usually attributed to it this song in the texts. Although Australian, there is definitely a Celtic flavor to this performance, especially in the musical interlude in the middle. "Squatter" in this song refers to someone (European) in Australia who occupied and used large, open tracts of Crown land ("runs") for grazing livestock (cattle or sheep), initially without any ownership rights. "Waltzing Matilda" also has a squatter reference. "Broken-down Squatter" takes place at the time of the crash of Australian banks in 1893. Glen Eva and Fifteen Mile Plain are locations in Queensland, Australia. "Muster the river for fats" appears to be a roundup of fattened livestock at a river, since "fats" are fattened livestock and "muster" refers to a roundup of livestock.
Mudcat Discussion