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The Maranoa Drovers

traditional Australian song
composer unknown

Sung to the tune
Little Sally Waters.

What the words mean

  • coolibah ~ a species of gum or eucalyptus tree abundant along river banks
  • Gunnedah ~ town in north-western New South Wales
  • Barwon ~ river flowing through New South Wales, forming a section of the border with Queensland. The name comes from a local Aboriginal word meaning 'wide stream'. It's also the main tributary of the Darling River.
  • Maranoa ~ a region of south-western Queensland. The Maranoa River flows through it.

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 night,
   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
      coolibah —
  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, too;
   Then we’ll be out upon the rolling plains once more;
We’ll shout “Hurrah! for old Queensland, with its swampy coolibah,
   And the cattle that come off the Maranoa.”

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