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AUSTRALIAN SONGS

Botany Bay

 by Florian Pascal (1847 - 1923)

See it on You TubeBotany Bay sung by
The Soundowners on

Botany Bay sung by Lionel Long

The first YouTube version of Botany Bay is sung by the Melbourne Aussie bush band The Sundowners. The second version is sung by Lionel Long.

You'll find this song also listed mistakenly on some websites as Bound for Botany Bay.

On the 29th April 1770 a British ship named the Endeavour, under the command of Captain James Cook, anchored in what was later named Botany Bay. The first fleet Botany Bay on January 19, 1788 with eleven vessels. They carried  about 730 convicts and 250 free settlers. Today Botany Bay is surrounded by the suburbs of Sydney.

This song was written about a time when even a small crime could get you a sentence of seven years and shipped off to Australia as a convict. The song talks about this in the first verse and finishes in the last verse with a warning to boys and girls (Dookies and Duchesses) not to steal or they'll wind up in Botany Bay.

This song was used in the comedy Little Jack Shepherd which played in London in 1885 and Melbourne, Victoria in 1886.

What the words mean

  • A swell ~ a person who is well dressed. To cut a swell means to make a good impression.

See also the songs
Female Transport Convict Maid Jim Jones

Listen to the music
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Farewell to Old England forever
Farewell to my old pals as well
Farewell to the well known Old Bailee
Where I once used to be such a swell

Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.

There's the captain as is our commandeer,
There's bo'sun and all the ship's crew
There's first and the second class passengers,
Knows what we poor convicts goes through.

Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.

'Taint leaving Old England we cares about,
'Taint 'cos we mispells wot we knows
But becos all we light finger'd gentry
Hop's around with a log on our toes.

Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.

Oh had I the wings of a turtle-dove,
I'd soar on my pinions so high,
Slap bang to the arms of my Polly love,
And in her sweet presence I'd die.

Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.

Now all my young Dookies and Duchesses,
Take warning from what I've to say,
Mind all is your own as you touch-es-es,
Or you'll find us in Botany Bay.


Convicts being transported to
Botany Bay say goodbye

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