Squatter, 1960s Australian boardgame

Back when I was a kid my older brothers and sisters had a boardgame called Squatter, which was themed on running a sheep station in the Australian Outback. There was a board with a track around the edge and central areas representing tracts of land. There was play money marked in £ (so probably published before 1966). There were little creamy plastic tokens with sheep’s heads. Game play included accumulating money to buy sheep, pasture improvement, and bores to anticipate random events such as droughts, floods, and high or low wool prices.

Does anyone know anything about it? Is it something I ought to buy a copy of to play with my great-nephews and great-niece to instil Australian culture into them, or is it as boring as all heck?


First resort:

It appears to have been lightly tweaked over the years but I think that’s about the highest rating I’ve seen for an obscure 1960s game, and the forum posts appear generally positive.


Hmm. It sounds as though my nieces’ broods might be too young for it for a while yet. And the description makes it sound as though there is no interaction between the players.

There’s apparently a shop that sells it about 50 km away. Or I could have it posted to me for A$10. The manufacture offers bulk discounts, which seems strange.

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The Wikipedia entry is sort of fascinating:

There must be very few games that have been ‘commended by Woolmark, […] by the Royal Agriculture Society, [and] The Minister of Agriculture’ as recounted in the About section of the squatter.com.au website.

After reading all of this stuff I think we need to be careful calling it an ‘obscure’ game. It may be obscure in the UK and USA but I really don’t think it is in Australia :smiley:

As for playing it with the younger children, as my new favourite comment on states:

“Poison fumigate rabbits” and a charming picture in case you are unable to visualise what that might look like. A fabulous game to play with your children, if you are a psychopath.


Is it wrong that now I am weirdly tempted to play it??


My partner’s played it a lot. Her mum owns a copy. Says it’s actually a lot of fun. I mean, it’s basically Monopoly, but does a great job of conveying the abject misery of an Australian sheep farmer.

I’ve heard Use Rosenberg’s games pejoratively referred to as “misery farming” but that’s nothing compared to this.


Oh and I’m told that the Player Aid is an absolute doozy.

I may regret asking this, but why is it called Squatter?


Australian slang for shepherd.

In the colonisation of the Australian interior during the Nineteenth century, the largest and wealthiest stations were establish by well-capitalised graziers who simply went out into the hinterland and seized large tracts of the best grazing land. Lacking formal tenure of what was legally Crown land (and which they had effectually conquered by private war) these wealthy land-owners were called “squatters”. They were contrasted with “selectors”, who had taken up limited tracts in accordance with colonial law, though in many cases squatters secured title to critical resources such as water by selecting or getting their dependants to select critical areas “picking the eyes out of the country”, leaving the rest useless to other selectors.

The squatters became wealthy gentry (many of them started out as younger sons of English and Scottish wealthy families), and in the political development of New South Wales made an attempt to ensconce themselves as a “bunyip aristocracy”. That failed; nevertheless squatters up until about WWI ran the interiors of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland as an informal but effective squirearchy derided by critics as “the squattocracy”. Some squatter families are still prominent, and connected with the British aristocracy.

So in Australia until, say, the 1970s “squatter” meant something like “rancher” and something like “squire”. The term is archaic now.


Because YouTube has something on almost every game, here a review and playthrough:

I’ve also discovered a short introduction to the game by Richard Lloyd, who’s apparently the son of Robert Crofton Lloyd the inventor of game:

He actually has a YouTube channel with 15 short videos on various aspects of the game.


“There is a reason there are so many sheep.”

I find that I can get Squatter from the manufacturer for A$69.95 delivered or from Milsims for A$62.95 delivered. I’m going over the the nearest metrollopis this afternoon on other business; I’ll drop in to the uFLGS (which is listed on the manufacturer’s website) and see if they have a copy in stock for under A$69.95, 10% being a premium that I am willing to pay to support local retailing.

Is there anything I ought to keep an eye out for while I’m there?

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Well, @Whistle_Pig: do you regret asking?

There is AuZtralia… but I don’t know how good it is, or if they would have it. I know they always have a copy in the board game shop here in Napier (NZ)

I learned something interesting, so no regrets! Thank you for the explanation.

The only thing to be seen at the former site of the listed Squatter stockist in PMQ was a “for lease” sign. So an order has gone in to Milsims.

My Squatter set was delivered this morning. The colours of the board are a bit more garish than I remember, and the quality of the cards and pieces seems flimsier. The haystacks are cards now, not little moulded pieces. I think I’ll try filling the pawns with epoxy to make them a bit heavier.


The copy I play with has haystack cards too. If you’re really brave you can move your token around the board by blowing really hard. … Maybe don’t try that for a year or three.

If you’re too worried about the garish colours just leave it in the sun for a few years?

Hope the first game is excellent.


First game is scheduled for tomorrow night.

I had a quick run through the mechanics just now, and there are some oddities. Sheep don’t breed. Transaction costs are negative. Shearing and income taxes are rare misfortunes instead of annual inevitabilities.

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