Banjo Paterson’s Hilarious Ode to Misfortune
Paterson displays his gift for comic verse in the amusing ballad “A Mountain Station”, which chronicles the hapless struggles of a settler trying to run a remote mountain cattle property.
We follow the inexperienced owner as he optimistically acquires a rugged tract of land, only to endure setback after setback trying to raise livestock in the inhospitable terrain. The owner’s woeful tale is rendered through hilarious bush vignettes.
The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses
by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson
Paterson delights in piling absurd misfortunes upon the ill-fated station – from rampaging dingoes to thieves stealing his fruit crops. Each mishap escalates the comic absurdity, culminating in the entire herd being washed away without a trace.
While exaggerated for humor, the account astutely conveys the volatile nature of frontier living, where dreams faced harsh realities. Only resilient spirits could laugh in the face of such fickle fortune.
So “A Mountain Station” showcases Paterson’s trademark flair for using rip-roaring comedy to unveil deeper insights into the Australian experience. His empathetic humor immortalizes the nation’s irrepressible optimism even amidst unfolding disaster.
A Mountain Station
I bought a run a while ago,
On country rough and ridgy,
Where wallaroos and wombats grow —
The Upper Murrumbidgee.
The grass is rather scant, it’s true,
But this a fair exchange is,
The sheep can see a lovely view
By climbing up the ranges.
And She-oak Flat’s the station’s name,
I’m not surprised at that, sirs:
The oaks were there before I came,
And I supplied the flat, sirs.
A man would wonder how it’s done,
The stock so soon decreases —
They sometimes tumble off the run
And break themselves to pieces.
I’ve tried to make expenses meet,
But wasted all my labours,
The sheep the dingoes didn’t eat
Were stolen by the neighbours.
They stole my pears — my native pears —
Those thrice-convicted felons,
And ravished from me unawares
My crop of paddy-melons.
And sometimes under sunny skies,
Without an explanation,
The Murrumbidgee used to rise
And overflow the station.
But this was caused (as now I know)
When summer sunshine glowing
Had melted all Kiandra’s snow
And set the river going.
And in the news, perhaps you read:
`Stock passings. Puckawidgee,
Fat cattle: Seven hundred head
Swept down the Murrumbidgee;
Their destination’s quite obscure,
But, somehow, there’s a notion,
Unless the river falls, they’re sure
To reach the Southern Ocean.’
So after that I’ll give it best;
No more with Fate I’ll battle.
I’ll let the river take the rest,
For those were all my cattle.
And with one comprehensive curse
I close my brief narration,
And advertise it in my verse —
`For Sale! A Mountain Station.’