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The tank stream ran silent through shaded green banks,
When first I saw Sydney I offered no thanks.
And the pleasant bush scenery gave me no cheer,
For the eyes of a convict are blinded by fear.
Oh Old Sydney Town I once was a rover,
But now I can see that you've fair won me over,
From the Hero of Waterloo up at the Rocks
To Blackwattle Bay with its dirty old docks,
I'll sing of your pleasures that satisfy me
Of your harbour, your pubs and your Circular Quay
The stone and the sweat that they used for the Quay,
Was culled from the earth and poor bastards like me.
How I hated that stone from the Argyle Cut,
And I wished it were my bones they'd hung at Pinchgut.
They gave me a pardon and set me quite free,
But the white cliffs of Dover no more will see me,
For I'm working a ferry run, I'm doing fine
From Blues Point to Dawes Point I'm straight down the line.
Now Phillip he formed you for he chose the place,
Macquarie came after and quite changed your face,
But for prisoners of Old Mother England who slaved
To build up your city, no names are engraved.
Thanks to Phyl Lobl for this one from her 1980 album, Blackmeadow Thistle. The lyrics are from her website, with the following note:
Warren Fahey needed a song about Old Sydney for a project with which he was involved. I did some research and came up with this song.
The version sung here is as I heard it in the 1980s Brisbane sessions.