Anderson's Coast

Anderson's Coast, from the pen of John Warner of Sydney, records the isolation of a convict marooned on the Gippsland coast after a group escape from the penal colony in Tasmania (still Van Diemen's Land in the 1840s), stealing a boat to sail across the treacherous Bass Strait to the Australian mainland, with death the penalty for being recaptured. The story goes that a small band of explorers led by Count Strzlecki, close to starvation, came across the convicts living in a deserted stockade. These convicts fed the explorers, then guided them to Anderson, a local squatter, and safety. It is believed that the convicts were pardoned for their help. John learned the song from Danny Spooner, and it has changed a bit from John Warner's original.

Old Bass Strait roars like a great mill race
     And where are you, my Annie
And the same moon shines on this distant place
As shone that night on my Annie's face
     And Annie dear, don't wait for me
     I fear I'll never return to thee
     There's naught to do but endure my fate
     And watch the moon
     The lonely moon
     Light the breakers of wild Bass Strait.

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

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

And somewhere's west port Melbourne lies
     And where are you, my Annie
Through swamps infested with snakes and flies
And the fool who walks there, the fool he dies:

We hail no ships, though time it drags
     And where are you, my Annie
For our chain gang roll and government rags
They mark us out as Van Diemen's lags:

We fled the lash and the chafing chain
     And where are you, my Annie
We fled starvation and brutal pain
But here we are, and here remain:

© Golden Hind Music