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The Mines of Australia / Leaving Australia


Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton sang The Mines of Australia, “collected by Warren Fahey from Cyril Duncan, 1973, Queensland,” on their 2002 album Swapping Seasons.

Danny Spooner sang The Mines of Australia on his 2004 CD of Australian songs of toil and reward, ’Ard Tack. He noted:

This music hall melodrama I got from Gordon McIntyre in the 1970s. He believed that my cockney accent would suit it better than his Scots one. I thanked him at the time and still do, it’s a poignant song. Ron Edwards collected a version in 1970 from the singing of Mick Dolan of Machans Beach, Queensland; Mick had it from his grandmother. Bob Michell and Stan Arthur also collected a version from Cyril Duncan of Nerang as did Warren Fahey.

Jim Moray sang Leaving Australia in 2008 on his CD Low Culture. This track was also included in 2010 on his anthology A Beginner’s Guide.

John Thompson sang The Mines of Australia as the 30 August 2011 entry of his blog An Australian Folk Song a Day.


John Thompson sings The Mines of Australia

I sailed to the west with a schoolmate of mine
And together we shared the hard toil.
It was hard times at home that caused us to roam,
No work for the sons of the soil.
So I bade me old father and mother goodbye,
And I said I’ll not be long away;
For ten years have passed, fortune’s favoured at last
And I’m leaving Australia today.

I sailed to the west with a dear pal of mine,
Each having a share in one claim
And taking bad luck as it came with the rest,
And working on just the same
Til a cowardly blow struck my poor pal low,
Who struck him I never could tell;
But the share of his gold placed close to my heart
For mother and dear sister, Nell.

Well I’m going back to my dear old home
That’s far away over the sea
Right back to the scenes of my childhood
Where there’ll be a welcome for me
Well many’s the year it has passed away
Since I left old England’s shore,
And may God speed the vessel that carries me back
To my dear old home once more.

(repeat first verse)