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Where the Brumbies Come to Water

[ Roud - ; AFS 188 ; Will H. Ogilvie]

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang Where the Brumbies Come to Water on his 1981 Fellside album Emu Plains (this track was also included in 1996 on Undiscovered Australia), and on his 1992 Fellside album Beyond the Red Horizon. He noted:

A brumby is a wild horse. The original words were by the poet, Will Ogilvie, but the poem got altered round a bit as it went from mouth to mouth in the bush. Ron Edwards collected the song from an old stockman, Jack Parveez of Charters Towers, Queensland.

Martyn Wyndham-Read also sang this in 1989 on his and Danny Spooner’s Sandstock album All Around Down Under, Gael Shannon noted:

From Ron Edwards’ collection, The Overlander Songbook. This version is adapted from Will Ogilvie’s ballad, considerably altered and shortened. Ron writes that this “real old stockman’s song” was around in 1908.

Where the Brumbies Come to Water is a moving epitaph for a fellow horseman, and reminds us that tough workers can be tender also.

This video shows him singing this song in March 2020:


Martyn Wyndham-Read sings Where the Brumbies Come to Water

There’s a lonely grave half hidden where the blue-grass droops above,
A slab that roughly marks it: we planted it with love
There’s a mourning rank of riders closing in on every hand
O’er the vacant place he left us: he was best of all the band
Now he’s lying cold and silent with his hidden hopes unwon
𝄆 Where the brumbies come to water at the setting of the sun 𝄇

There’s a well-worn saddle hanging in the harness-room above
A good old stock-horse waiting for the steps that never come
And his dog will lick some other hand when the wild mob swings
We’ll get a slower rider to replace him on the wing
Ah but who will kiss his wife who kneels beside the long lagoon
𝄆 Where the brumbies come to water at the rising of the moon 𝄇

We will miss him in the cattle camps a trusted man and true
The daddy of all stockmen was young Rory Donahue
We will miss the tunes he used to play on his banjo long and low
We will miss the songs he used to sing of the days of long ago
Where the shadow-line lies broken neath the moonbeams’ silver bars
𝄆 Where the brumbies come to water at the twinkling of the stars 𝄇


Transcribed by Garry Gillard