Squatter is back – in time for Australia Day 2017. It’s the biggest selling board game ever to come from this country. Squatter is in the Permanent Collection of the Powerhouse Museum, and was right next to the Monopoly set in homes, farms and holiday shacks throughout the nation in the 1960s & 70s. With Squatter, though, you actually do play for sheep stations.
It’s a great Australian game, and like so many inventions the story behind it is a fascinating one.
Bob Lloyd invented Squatter. In courting his future wife in the late 1940s, he worked on her parents’ sheep property in South-East Victoria. This equipped him for his next job as a travelling salesman through regional Victoria for Dalgety & Co – wool brokers, agricultural equipment merchants, financial service provider and stock agents to the Aussie bush.
Bob used to drive around regional Victoria in his early model Volkswagen – he reckoned the rear engine made the VW better for tricky bush roads than a more obvious FX Holden choice.
The VW and Bob were beetle-ing back for his customary three-day family catch-up weekend in suburban Cheltenham, Melbourne. It was a Thursday night in 1956 when the idea for Squatter came to him in a flash. Bob has always credited this moment to divine intervention.
He arrived home, gave his family a hug, and proceeded to spend the night writing down the game of Squatter pretty much as it is today… right down to naming one of the six properties “Corumbene”, after the original property of his parents-in-law.
But the Squatter story still needed a great neighbour. The game needed further rigorous testing and refining.
Enter Bob Lloyd’s friendly refrigerator mechanic neighbour – Jack Walsh. The Lloyd and Walsh families were so close they even had a gate in their shared side fence for ease of access. Bob & Jack ended up playing Squatter every night they could – until the game was right.
Next step was a trip to long standing Victorian Premier, Henry Bolte (later Sir Henry Bolte). who put Bob Lloyd in touch with his Agriculture Minister, who referred Bob to the (then) Australian Wool Board, who wrote a glowing letter of commendation about Squatter’s “sound farming principles” and its ability to bring awareness of farming to people in the cities.
This encouraged John Sands Games to pick up the rights to Squatter, and the game first went on sale in September 1962 at the Royal Melbourne Show. And promptly sold out.
Bob Lloyd put the proceeds to good works – using his Squatter proceeds to finance his volunteer work for the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, and Mission to Seamen.
Through it all, the mighty Squatter continued to sell for fifty years … until third party licensing hiccups and distributor takeovers saw Squatter disappear.
Bob Lloyd’s son Richard has now overseen the return of his Dad’s great Australian board game. It includes 21st century references to sustainable farming, and occupational safety.
Squatter’s back … in time for Bob’s 90th birthday year, and another Australia Day. It costs $59.00 https://www.thegoodstore.com.au/d132-116/squatter-board-game/