[Bound for] South Australia: the song

South Australia is an English sea shanty (sometimes written chanty) that has become a popular folk song. Like many such songs its origins are obscure. It was first documented in a compilation by Laura Smith and published in The Music of the Waters in 1888. She collected the song with lyrics from sailors in Tyneside, England. Two other versions, one described as a halyard chanty, and the other a capstan chanty were included in J.S Manifold The Penguin Australian Song Book (Adelaide, Griffin Press, 1964, pp. 2-4). The song was said to be popular on the clipper ships that traded wool and wheat between Australia and Britain. Like most such songs there are several variants in both music and lyrics. One version still commonly sung in South Australia begins:

In South Australia I was born,
Heave away, haul away,
In South Australia round Cape Horn,
And we’re bound for South Australia, etc

The song has been recorded by many different artists. Listen to a recent version produced and performed by Michael Mills for Heaps Good Productions.

The lyrics that follow here are from Manifold. He includes two versions of the first verse and two sightly different tunes.

Lyrics  (capstan-chanty)


SOLO:Oh, South Australia’s my native home.
CHORUS:Heave away! Heave away!
SOLO: Oh, South Australia’s my native home.
CHORUS:We’re bound for South Australia.
Heave away, heave away,
Oh heave away, you ruler king,
We’re bound for South Australia.


SOLO: There ain’t but the one thing grieves my mind.
CHORUS: Heave away! Heave away!
SOLO:To leave my dear wife and child behind.
CHORUS: We’re bound for South Australia, etc.

(Solo lines only)


SOLO:I see my wife standing on the quay,
The tears do start as she waves to me


SOLO: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.


SOLO:And now I’m bound for a foreign strand,
With a bottle of whisky in my hand.


SOLO:I’ll drink a glass to the foreign shore,
And one to the girl that I adore.

Halyard chanty

SOLOOh, South Australia is my home,
Heave away, Haul away,
From South Australia I’ll ne’re roam,
And we’re bound for South Australia. 



CHORUSHeave away you ruler King,
Heave away, Haul away,
Heave away and hear me sing
We’re bound for South Australia.

Fishermens Friends sing (Bound for) South Australia on YouTube:

[youtube width=”600″ height=”400″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vUqeDPZZ80[/youtube]

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