BROKEN DOWN SQUATTER

© Charles Flowers circa 1880s, from the Penguin Australian Songbook, compiled by John S Manifold [Penguin Books 1964]

Gordon – vocal & 12-string guitar     

Will, Matt, Anne – vocals

 

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.

 

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

           

            And the banks…

 

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

 

            And the banks…

 

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

 

            And the banks…

 

 

 

 

Broken Down Squatter is recorded on the album Because You Asked and is also found on the Folk-Legacy album Bay of Fundy and is included in the songbook Time and the Flying Snow.