Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Cross of the South

Words: Kenneth Cook,
Tune: Traditional (Kelly the Boy From Killane)

'Twas the month of December, the year fifty-four
When the men of Eureka rebelled.
And they swore that the flag they had made for themselves
Ever proudly aloft would be held.
The miners took arms in the stockade that day,
The bold word passed from mouth to mouth
'We will stand by this flag and the stars that it bears,
White stars of the Cross of the South'.

The hot blood of the heroes ran fast in their veins,
There was but one man they obeyed.
The hero of heroes they chose from their ranks
Peter Lalor their hero they made.
Peter Lalor said, 'We must stand by our guns,
Fear not the cannon's fierce mouth!
For I see the soldiers are gathering now
To tear down the Cross of the South'.

Captain Thomas charged the Eureka Stockade,
Three hundred troops by his side.
Fire and steel met them there and they fell back again,
But the first of the miners had died.
The smoke from the battle had scarce cleared away
When the soldiers came charging once more,
The miners were killed as they stood 'round their flag
Or fell from the wounds they bore.

Bold Peter Lalor lay shot on the grund
Where the soldiers had left him for dead,
And the flag that he loved lay there by his side,
The white stars all stained with red.
Peter Lalor he rose on his knees in the dust,
Wild words poured from his mouth:
'You can murder us all in black tyranny's name,
But you can't kill the Cross of the South'.

Based on an American Civil War song of the same title.

The illustration for this post is an engraving by George Rossi Ashton (artist) and F. A. Sleap (engraver), 1888. Held in the State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection. It depicts the taking of the oath at the Eureka Stockade

The oath:

We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties


  1. Thanks for your efforts here!

    I've been singing folk songs with my kids, a new one each month. For November, I had decided on one of the Eureka songs, but not which one... Having the lyrics _and_ your recording makes it really easy for me to learn—and teach my kids:-)

    Although I already have a plan for which songs to use, I know I still have one or two gaps... so I know where I'll be coming to fill them!

    1. Glad you're enjoying the work. It's still attracting hits every day. Very gratifying that people are finding it useful - it was a fun project.