Thursday, December 1, 2011

Anderson's Coast

John Warner

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Now Bass Strait roars like some great mill race
And where are you, my Annie
And the same moon shines on this lonely place
As shone one day on my Annie's face

But Annie dear, don't wait for me
I fear I shall not return to thee

There's naught to do but endure my fate

And watch the moon

The lonely moon

Light the breakers on wild Bass Strait.

We stole a vessel and all her gear
And where are you, my Annie
And from Van Diemen's we north did steer
'Till Bass Strait's wild waves wrecked us here

A mile inland, as our course was laid
And where are you, my Annie?
We found a government stockade.
Long long deserted, but stoutly made.

And somewhere West Port Melbourne lies
And where are you, my Annie
Through swamps infested with snakes and flies
The fool who walks there, he surely dies

We hail no ships, though the time it drags
And where are you, my Annie
Our chain gang walk and government rags
All mark us out as Van Diemen's lags

We fled the lash and the chafing chain
And where are you, my Annie
We fled hard labour and brutal pain
And here we are and here remain

This wonderful song from John Warner and Margaret Walters' recording, The Pithead in the Fern.

These notes from the Cockersdale sleeve notes (via Mudcat):

Australian singer John Warner writes evocative and beautifully poetic songs, many drawing on Australian colonial history. Anderson's Coast concerns of a group of convicts who escaped Van Diemen's Land in a stolen ship, only to be wrecked by the notorious Bass Strait waves on the Gippsland coast (in Victoria). The explorer Strzlecki and his small band stumbled out of dense rainforest and encountered the marooned men. Strzlecki would probably have perished had it not been for his Koori guide Charlie Tarra and this group of convicts who led him to Anderson, a pioneer settler who ran cattle on the South Gippsland coast. Apparently the convicts were pardoned for their contribution to the explorer's survival. 

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