Waltzing Matilda — Squatter’s History
Have you ever wondered why Australia’s most successful board game is called “Squatter”? Well, the inventor, my dad Bob Lloyd, loved Banjo Paterson’s poems, as do I and many others. But for Dad, Banjo was able to capture the essence of something Australian of which we could all be proud.
In late 1950’s and early 60’s “Australian Made” was poorly regarded. Most of our school textbooks were published in England, and most of our toys were “Made in England”. “Australian Made” was widely considered to be of inferior quality and was hence somewhat despised. I know Dad rejected this idea; in fact, I think it infuriated him. He was very proud to be an Australian, and it was important for the game to reflect something that was quintessentially Australian.
When the game was invented in 1956 it was also the year of the Melbourne Olympics, and Waltzing Matilda was at that time often referred to as Australia’s un-official national anthem. It was played a lot during the Olympics and was internationally associated with Australia. In that era, within the Australian vernacular, the word “Squatter” as referred to in Waltzing Matilda, almost universally was accepted to mean a pioneer farmer. And because the “jolly swagman” was gleefully stowing the Jumbuck (a sheep) into his Tucker Bag, it more particularly meant a pioneer sheep farmer.
Again, in that era, there was hardly a better, more Australian word to describe an Australian game that was about sheep farming and wool production. It wasn’t until the mid to late 60’s that there was a growing awareness in Australia that “Squatter” also meant an illegal tenant not paying rent and difficult to evict.
Dad commented much later that he regretted choosing the name “Squatter”, and he might have preferred “Jumbuck”, which is also mentioned in Waltzing Matilda. However, since then, that name along with many other suitable alternatives, has been registered by other companies and is consequently unavailable.
Nevertheless, while it is a significant undertaking to embark on a name change for such a well-known brand as Squatter, we are poised to launch this famous game internationally. And because outside Australia, the word “Squatter” is unacceptable, a name change is in the pipeline!