South Australia - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

South Australia, also known as 'Rolling King' and 'Bound for South Australia', is a sea shanty that has been recorded by A.L. Lloyd, the Clancy Brothers, the Corries, the Pogues and, recently, the Fisherman's Friends with Show of Hands, amongst others.  In common with many sea shanties, it originated as a work song - the lyrics would be sung in time to a work task.   It may be a capstan shanty (a song sung around the capstan as a gang of seamen raised the anchor).  But the lyric 'haul away, you rolling king' indicates that it was also sometimes used whilst hauling heavy timber.  The words 'bound for South Australia' makes it likely that the song was sung on the clipper ships that carried wool and wheat between Australia and England.  References to the song 'South Australia' enter the historical record around 1870, and it may therefore date from the mid-nineteenth century.  It is often sung a capealla, but you can also work in a guitar accompaniment if that appeals to you.  It's a fantastic song to play in a pub sing-along, provided you have a few other people with you who will sing along with the choruses.

Chords

Chorus

C                               F        C

In South Australia I was born!

F            C       F        C
Heave away! Haul away!

     C                          G7                C
In South Australia round Cape Horn!

           C                                    G7    C
We're bound for South Austra  -  lia!




Verse

F                                      C

Haul away, you rolling king,

F            C       F        C
Heave away! Haul away!

F                                        C
Haul away and hear me sing

           C                                    G7    C
We're bound for South Austra  -  lia!

 

The chords to South Australia could hardly be simpler - just C, F and G7.  Try and get the timing of the last chord change in every verse and chorus right.  You should move to the G7 on the second 'a' of 'Australia', and resolve back to the C on the final 'a' of the word.  If you don't play guitar, it's worth giving this song a try a capalla.  If you do play guitar, try it both ways, and see which you prefer. 

Lyrics

In South Australia I was born!
Heave away! Haul away!
In South Australia round Cape Horn!
We're bound for South Australia!

Haul away, you rolling king,
Heave away! Haul away!
Haul away and hear me sing
We're bound for South Australia!

As I walked out one morning fair,
Heave away! Haul away!
'Twas there I met Miss Nancy Blair.
We're bound for South Australia!

Haul away, you rolling king,
Heave away! Haul away!
Haul away and hear me sing
We're bound for South Australia!

I shook her up, I shook her down,
Heave away! Haul away!
I shook her round and round the town.
We're bound for South Australia!

Haul away, you rolling king,
Heave away! Haul away!
Haul away and hear me sing
We're bound for South Australia!

There ain't but one thing grieves my mind,
Heave away! Haul away!
To leave Miss Nancy Blair behind.
We're bound for South Australia!

Haul away, you rolling king,
Heave away! Haul away!
Haul away and hear me sing
We're bound for South Australia!

And as you lollop round Cape Horn,
Heave away! Haul away!
You'll wish to Christ you'd never been born!
We're bound for South Australia!

Haul away, you rolling king,
Heave away! Haul away!
Haul away and hear me sing
We're bound for South Australia!

 

The lyrics above are as sung by A.L. Lloyd, and asre similar to those sung by the Clancy Brothers.  However, many different verses do exist.  Sailors would have chosen the verses that were most appropriate to their tasks, or simply those that they liked most, and you, of course, can do the same thing.

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs