Playing for Sheep Stations

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Darmys | 01:33 Wed 01st Mar 2006 | Phrases & Sayings
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Where does the saying "Playing for Sheep Stations", or "We're Not Playing for Sheep Stations" come from?


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Maybe something from australia about playing on a team from a sheep ranch in the outback, not a very skilled bunch of players?
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actually I know what it means, I wanted to know where it came from. It's usually said as "We're not playing for sheep stations" meaning that you don't have to be so serious about the game/sporting match, as there's nothing truely important riding on the result.

It's a saying that I've heard and used most of my life, and I wanted to know where or how it originated.

kingaroo is probably right; 'stations' is the word down under for what would be 'farms' in the UK.
The term obviously means not playing for a large amount of money or value. A station is NOT just what a person from the UK would call a farm. Some stations are hundreds of kilometres long and are bigger than some European countries.

The actual saying derives from a card game in the early 1900's when station owners or in this case the holder of a lease of the station would travel to the nearby town (90km away in this particular case) by horse or cart, meet up with other local station owners and have a few days of drinking and cards.

On this particular occasion the owner of the property was down on his luck and ultimately offered the lease on his property as payment for his card playing. Unfortunately for him he lost the game of cards and the lease on his property. It is said he later committed suicide.
It is for this reason the expression "Hey don't get too serious, we're not playing for sheep stations" derived.

I lived and worked for 12 months on this very property some 100 years after the card game and was told this story by the former lease holder who seemed quite familiar with the events. He was an elderly man at that stage. I have also read other accounts retelling the same story.

The town was Carnarvon which is half way up the western coast of Wester Australia on the Gascoyne River and the property was and still is called Quobba Station. Quobba is a small station of about 80 000 acres and includes at it northern tip a magnificent place called Red Bluff just at the start of the world famous Ningaloo Reef.

Red Bluff is a would famous surfing spot but requires some effort to travel 1000km north from Perth in WA to get there.

Hope this answers your curiosity.

Wonder if he or she were still wondering 16 years later!

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Playing for Sheep Stations

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