The Stockman’s Last Bed By Banjo Paterson

Death’s Randomness in the Vast Indifferent Landscape

This melancholy bush ballad by Banjo Paterson offers a poignant perspective on the ever-present perils faced by Australian stockmen in the wilderness, where death often came suddenly and tragically.

Adopting the voice of a fellow stockman, Paterson movingly chronicles the grievous goring and lonely demise of Jack, a stalwart worker adept at roaming and taming the harsh landscape.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

Vivid outback images evoke Jack’s skillful mastery of his environment – galloping freely, cracking whips, drinking by a campfire. This amplifies the tragedy of his random, meaningless passing in the bush without fanfare.

The depiction of Jack’s neglected grave and mourning animals underscores the isolation and anonymity of many stockmen’s fates. Yet Paterson suggests sacredness lingers in the wattle trees sheltering “the stockman’s last bed.”

While elegiac, the ballad compellingly confronts the inherent risks and transience of pioneer existence. It offers sober reflection on humans’ vulnerability against the indifference of nature.

Ultimately, “The Stockman’s Last Bed” insightfully probes the coexistence of captions freedom and fragility in the outback. Paterson’s lyricism poignantly captures both the romance and ruthlessness of the Australian wilderness.


Be ye stockmen or no, to my story give ear.
Alas! for poor Jack, no more shall we hear
The crack of his stockwhip, his steed’s lively trot,
His clear “Go ahead, boys,” his jingling quart pot.


For we laid him where wattles their sweet fragrance shed,
And the tall gum trees shadow the stockman’s last bed.

Whilst drafting one day he was horned by a cow.
“Alas!” cried poor Jack, “it’s all up with me now,
For I never again shall my saddle regain,
Nor bound like a wallaby over the plain.”

His whip it is silent, his dogs they do mourn,
His steed looks in vain for his master’s return;
No friend to bemoan him, unheeded he dies;
Save Australia’s dark sons, few know where he lies.

Now, stockman, if ever on some future day
After the wild mob you happen to stray,
Tread softly where wattles their sweet fragrance spread,
Where alone and neglected poor Jack’s bones are laid.

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