South Australia

South Australia (Rolling King, or The Codfish Chantey) is one of those rousing capstan chanteys that has become iconic for sailors raising the roof in taverns the world over, as demonstrated in movies and TV as well as within our circles.  It is not as old as some historical groups might suppose, having come about around the time of emigration (or export) to the colonies in Australia.  If you’re interested in its history, you might start with this link.

In South Australia I was born!
To me heave away! To me haul away!
In South Australia ‘round Cape Horn!
We’re a-bound for South Australia!

Haul away, you rolling king,
    To me heave away! To me haul away!
    All the way you’ll hear me sing
    We’re a-bound for South Australia!

As I stepped out one morning fair
> To me heave…
It’s there I met Miss Nancy Blair.
> We’re a-bound…

I shook her up, I shook her down,
I shook her round and round the town.

There ain’t but one thing grieves me mind,
But to leave Miss Nancy’s bare behind.

And as you wallop around Cape Horn,
You’ll wish to Christ you’d never been born!

Up the coast to Vallipo
Northward on to Callao.

Oh, rock and roll me over boys,
Let’s get this damn job over boys.


Stan Hugill gives an alternative set of verses, which accounts for the Codfish angle… Similar to the song “Cape Cod Girls”.  Stan provides an alternative melody that had been used, but it can work just as well with the melody we all know.  Sailors might change the place names when they chose, and even make the whole song a bit bawdier, as we sometimes do after hours…

*Downeast girls don’t use no combs.
Heave Away! Heave Away!
They comb their hair with a whalefish bone.
An’ We’re bound for South Australia!

      Heave away, me bully boys!
      Heave away! Heave away!
      Heave away, why don’t ye make some noise?
     An’ we’re bound for South Australia!

*Yankee gals don’t sleep on beds.
> Heave away…
They go to sleep on codfish’s heads.
> An’ we’re…

*Cape Cod gals have got big feet.
Codfish’s rows is nice an’ sweet.

*Quaker gals don’t wear no frills.
They’re tight an’ skinny as a halibut’s gills.

*Glou’ster gals make damn fine cooks.
They’re good at catching sprats on hooks.

*Nantucket gals are very fine.
They know how to bait a codfish line.

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