An arrangement of The Queensland Drover will be available soon.
The Queensland Drover (sometimes called The Overlanders) is a traditional folk song that reflects on the life and times of that iconic Australian worker – the drover.
Drovers were (and still are) experienced stockmen who were responsible for moving herds of livestock – most commonly cattle or sheep – over long distances. The reasons for such movements included taking animals to market; delivering animals to a new owner’s property; or, in times of drought, searching for better feed and/or water.
The drovers were characteristically excellent horsemen, experienced in handling stock, tough and independent. They worked in what were often harsh conditions and could be ‘on the road’, away from their homes, for very long periods of time. Drovers who covered very long distances opening up new country were known as ‘overlanders’.
Droving began in Australia in the mid-1830s. Then, as droving skills developed, the size of the mobs and the distances covered continued to increase, eventually reaching thousands of animals across thousands of kilometres.
The construction of railways, beginning in the 1860s, and the introduction of large road trains in the 1960s gradually reduced the need for the skills of the drovers. But even today, these skills are still important, particularly in drought times when stock are taken onto the ‘long paddock’ – the fenced travelling stock routes – in search of pasture to sustain them through the hard times.