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The Diamantina Drover

[Hugh McDonald]

Redgum sang The Diamantina Drover, written by their singer and fiddle player Hugh McDonald, in 1983 on their album Caught in the Act. It was produced by Trevor Lucas. Another recording of this song was included in 2004 on their anthology Against the Grain.

Steve Turner sang The Diamantina Drover in 1984 on his Fellside album Eclogue.

The House Band sang The Diamantina Drover in 1987 on their Topic album Pacific. They noted

The Diamantina is a river in Queensland, Australia, which is dry for most of the year. Ged [Foley] learnt this song from Martin Colledge in 1983.

Kerr Fagan Habron sang The Diamantina Drover on their 2008 Fellside CD Station House. They noted

At a Redgum gig in Sydney in 1983, fiddle player Hugh McDonald said of this song,

A few years ago I took a train ride up to Brisbane and on the train was an old man of about 80, and he was a drover on the Diamantina River up there for about 50 years. This song is for him.

Danny Spooner sang The Diamantina Drover in 2017 on his final CD, Home. He noted:

Having been at sea for the early years of my life, I feel that the drover's life must have been very like that of seamen: always on the move, no real home to speak of, and ever at the mercy of the elements. So why do it? Maybe for the freedom of bit of a fear of settling down, maybe they knew nothing else. The hints are there in this song by Hugh MacDonald who sang and wrote songs from the early 1970s until his untimely death this year.

Lyrics

The House Band sing The Diamantina Drover Danny Spooner sings The Diamantina Drover

The faces in the photograph are fading
I can't believe he looks so much like me,
It's been ten long years today
That I left for old Cork station
Saying, “I won't be back when the droving's done.”

Oh, the faces in the photograph have faded
And I can't believe he looks so much like me,
For it's been ten years today
Since I left for old Cork station
Saying, “I won't be back 'till the droving's done.”

For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina.
The drover finds it hard to change his mind.
For the years have slowly gone,
Like the drays from old Cork Station,
And I won't be back when the droving's done.

For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina.
The drover finds it hard to change his mind.
For the years have surely gone,
Like the drays from old Cork Station,
I won't be back 'till the droving's done.

Well, it seems like the sun comes up each morning,
It sets it up, then takes it all away.
For the dreaming by the light
Of the campfire at evening
Ends with the burning light of day.

Well, it seems like the sun gets up each morning,
And it sets me up and takes it all away.
For the dreaming by the light
Of the campfire at night
Ends with the burning of the day.

Sometimes I think I'll settle back in Sydney,
But it's been so long, it's hard to change your mind.
For the cattle trains go on and on,
the fences run forever—
And I won't be back when the droving's done.

Sometimes I think I'll settle back in Sydney,
But it's been so long, it's hard to change my mind.
For the cattle trails go on and on,
And the fences roll for ever—
And I won't be back till the droving's done.