The Maranoa Drovers By Banjo Paterson

This lively ballad provides a glimpse into the challenging life of Australian drovers transporting cattle long distances to market.

Adopting the voice of a drover, Paterson details the arduous routine – riding through dark storms, sleeping on the ground, rising before dawn to move the herd. Vivid imagery evokes the wilderness and isolation.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

References to pressing ahead despite exhaustion humanize the toughness needed. Their stoic commitment emerges through descriptions of harsh conditions and demanding bosses.

Paterson also captures the drovers’ pride in their skills and independence. Their nostalgia for home mingles with celebration of freedom on the open plains in the rollicking refrain.

While romanticizing their spirit, “The Maranoa Drovers” insightfully conveys the hardships and manly ethos underlying this essential role in Australia’s pastoral economy and expansion. Their stalwart devotion enabled frontier commerce.


(Air: “Little Sally Waters.”)

The night is dark and stormy, and the sky is clouded o’er;
Our horses we will mount and ride away,
To watch the squatters’ cattle through the darkness of the
And we’ll keep them on the camp till break of day.


For we’re going, going, going to Gunnedah so far,
And we’ll soon be into sunny New South Wales;
We shall bid farewell to Queensland, with its swampy
Happy drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

When the fires are burning bright through the darkness of
the night,
And the cattle camping quiet, well, I’m sure
That I wish for two o’clock when I call the other watch–
This is droving from the sandy Maranoa.

Our beds made on the ground, we are sleeping all so sound
When we’re wakened by the distant thunder’s roar,
And the lightning’s vivid flash, followed by an awful crash-
It’s rough on drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

We are up at break of day, and we’re all soon on the way,
For we always have to go ten miles or more;
It don’t do to loaf about, or the squatter will come out–
He’s strict on drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

We shall soon be on the Moonie, and we’ll cross the Barwon,
Then we’ll be out upon the rolling plains once more;
We’ll shout “Hurrah! for old Queensland, with its swampy
And the cattle that come off the Maranoa.”

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