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South Australia (song) facts for kids

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South Australia (Roud # 325) is a sea shanty, also known under such titles as "Rolling King" and "Bound for South Australia". As an original worksong it was sung in a variety of trades, including being used by the wool and later the wheat traders who worked the clipper ships between Australian ports and London. In adapted form, it is now a very popular song among folk music performers that is recorded by many artists and is present in many of today's song books.

Work function and lyrical variations

Smith said it was a capstan chanty, as evidenced by the refrain which indicates, "Heave away! Heave away!" Parrish found that stevedores hauling heavy timber used the song with the chorus, "Haul away, I’m a rollin' king."


Like most shanties of this type, "South Australia" was sung to a flexible combination of customary verses, floating verses from within the general chanty repertoire, and verses improvised in the moment or particular to individual singers. The song was of indefinite length, and created by supplying solo verses to a two-part refrain followed by a grand chorus. The following is a sample after Stan Hugill:

(solo) Oh South Australia is me home
(chorus) Heave away! Heave away!
(solo) South Australia is me home
(chorus) An' we're bound for South Australia.

Heave away, heave away
Oh heave away, you rolling king,
We're bound for South Australia

Solo verse couplets documented to have been sung to "South Australia" include the following from sailors of the 19th century.

I see my wife standing on the quay
The tears do start as she waves to me. I'll tell you the truth and I'll tell you no lie;
If I don't love that girl I hope I may die. And now I'm bound for a foreign strand,
With a bottle of whisky in my hand. I'll drink a glass to the foreign shore
And one to the girl that I adore.

As a popular song

In the 1940s, "South Australia" became popular as a camp song. And by the second decade of the 20th century, it had been adopted by several college glee clubs.

A slightly different version of the song was published by Doerflinger in 1951. English folk revival singer A.L. Lloyd recorded the song, without citing a source, on the 1957 album "Blow Boys Blow." He used Doerflinger's melody and the phrase "hear me sing," which are unique to that collection, which Lloyd used for other shanties he performed.

The Clancy Brothers recorded the song in 1962, in a version similar to A.L. Lloyd's. Patrick Clancy, one of the Clancy Brothers, had edited Lloyd's "Blow Boys Blow" album, which was released by Tradition Records, a label that Clancy managed. The Clancy Brothers rendered Lloyd's phrase "lollop around Cape Horn" as the unintelligible "wallop around Cape Horn." The Clancy Brothers' version is the most common one sung by folk music and shanty performers. The song has been recorded many times in both traditional and modern arrangements.

A traditional Morris Dance of the same name is performed to the tune, from the style of Adderbury.

Traditional recordings

The Bushwhackers and Bullockies Bush Band ( Bushwackers Band) on " The Shearer's Dream" album, Picture Records 1974.

  • A.L. Lloyd on his 1958 Australian album Across the Western Plains and on his 1960 UK album Outback Ballads
  • A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl on their 1957 album Blow Boys Blow
  • The Bushwhackers and Bullockies Bush Band on The Shearer's Dream album, Picture Records, 1974
  • The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem on their 1962 album The Boys Won't Leave The Girls Alone.
  • The Seekers on their 1964 UK album, The Seekers (also known as Roving with the Seekers)
  • Trevor Lucas on his 1966 Australian album Overlander
  • The Corries on their album Live from Scotland Volume 4 (1977)
  • Liam Clancy, Robbie O'Connell, and Donal Clancy on the 1998 collection of shanties and sea songs, Wild and Wasteful Ocean
  • The Poxy Boggards on their 2004 album Liver Let Die
  • Nathan Carter on his 2013 Irish album Where I Wanna Be

Modern versions

  • The Clumsy Lovers on their album Live! do a rock charged version of the song as the first part of a medley with Let the Sunshine In.
  • The Pogues on their 1987 album If I Should Fall from Grace with God
  • The Wiggles as "Bound for South Australia" on their 1992 album Here Comes A Song
  • Churchfitters on their album New Tales for Old
  • Chanticleer on their album Wondrous Love - A Folk Song Collection
  • Gaelic Storm on their 1999 album Herding Cats
  • Cutthroat Shamrock on their 2007 album The Wake
  • Seamus Kennedy on his 2008 album Sailing Ships and Sailing Men
  • Fisherman's Friends in their 2010 album Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends
  • Stan Hugill on the compilation album Classic Maritime Music from Smithsonian Folkways
  • Johnny Collins on his Shanties & Songs of the Sea
  • Julian Ferraretto on his 2010 album Near
  • Traditional Scottish band 'Trail West' recorded a version for their 2016 album 'Rescattermastered'.
  • Dust Rhinos as a melody with Drunken Sailor on their 2000 album Got Guiness
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