Mustering Song By Banjo Paterson

Paterson’s Ode to Stockmen’s Spirit and Struggles

This lively pastoral ballad by Banjo Paterson provides an affectionate glimpse into the camaraderie and challenges of mustering cattle in the Australian bush.

Adopting the voice of a seasoned stockman, Paterson brings the experience to life through rollicking rhythm and vivid imagery of rounding up straying herds across the sprawling frontier landscape.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

Details of saddling horses at dawn, chasing mobs down gullies, and contending with wild scrub evoke the adventurous ethos and shared struggles that bond the stock camp. Their irreverent good humor in the face of hazards is conveyed through droll lyrics about setbacks.

While selective in focusing on the spirit of adventure over adversity, the ballad insightfully captures the distinct culture of resilience and mateship nurtured in the wilderness. Stockmen are portrayed as a breed apart, bred of the environment.

Ultimately, “Mustering Song” paints an endearing portrait of the outback horseman that, while romanticized, crystallizes their nostalgized significance in Australia’s identity. Paterson’s rhythm and wit bring the legendary stockman archetype to life.


(Air: “So Early in the Morning.”)

The boss last night in the hut did say–
“We start to muster at break of day;
So be up first thing, and don’t be slow;
Saddle your horses and off you go.”


So early in the morning, so early in the morning,
So early in the morning, before the break of day.

Such a night in the yard there never was seen
(The horses were fat and the grass was green);
Bursting of girths and slipping of packs
As the stockmen saddled the fastest hacks.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

Across the plain we jog along
Over gully, swamp, and billabong;
We drop on a mob pretty lively, too
We round ’em up and give ’em a slue.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

Now the scrub grows thick and the cattle are wild,
A regular caution to this ‘ere child–
A new chum man on an old chum horse,
Who sails through the scrub as a matter of course.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

I was close up stuck in a rotten bog;
I got a buster jumping a log;
I found this scouting rather hot,
So I joined the niggers with the lot we’d got.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

A long-haired shepherd we chanced to meet
With a water bag, billy, and dog complete;
He came too close to a knocked up steer,
Who up a sapling made him clear.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

Now on every side we faintly hear
The crack of the stockwhip drawing near;
To the camp the cattle soon converge,
As from the thick scrub they emerge.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

We hastily comfort the inner man
With the warm contents of the billy can;
The beef and damper are passed about
Before we tackle the cutting out.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

We’re at it now–that bally calf
Would surely make a sick man laugh;
The silly fool can’t take a joke;
I hope some day in the drought he’ll croak.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

We’ve ’em now–the cows and calves
(Things here are never done by halves);
Strangers, workers, and milkers, too,
Of scrubbers also not a few.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

It’s getting late, we’d better push;
‘Tis a good long way across the bush,
And the mob to drive are middling hard;
I do not think we’ll reach the yard.

Chorus: So early in the morning, &c.

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