Redgum was formed in Adelaide in 1975 by singer-songwriter John Schumann, Michael Atkinson on guitars/vocals and Verity Truman on flute/vocals. They were soon joined by Chris Timms on violin. All four had been students at Flinders University and together developed an intensely passionate and outspoken outlook. They were known for their protest song exploring the impact of the Vietnam War in 1983’s “I Was Only Nineteen (A Walk in the Light Green)”, which peaked at #10 on the National singles charts. The song is in the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) list of Top 30 of All Time Best Australian Songs created in 2001.
The song featured on this page – “The Diamantina Drover” was written by Timms’ replacement, violinist/vocalist Hugh McDonald, and is an evocative tribute to our drovers of the past. It was included on their best performed album, the June 1983 live LP “Caught in the Act”, which peaked at #3 on the National albums chart. Introducing the song, McDonald told the story of having met an “old man of about 80” on a train ride to Brisbane “a few years back”. The man had been a “drover on the Diamantina River for about 50 years”. The song was for him.
Schumann left the band and pursued a solo career from 1986, Atkinson left in 1987 and Redgum finally disbanded in 1990.
Diamantina Drover (with lyrics)
At the 2010 Woodford Folk Festival, Hugh McDonald performed the song with John Schumann’s Vagabond Crew and showed it had lost little of its magic.
Woodford Folk Festival – 2010