A hush fell on the court where the Hanging Judge held sway,
As he said with deliberation, this is your lucky day,
The penalty prescribed for stealing another’s bread,
Is to be hung by the neck, till you are dead, dead, dead,
But his Majesties pleasure I now invoke,
And trust you will enjoy the humour of the joke,
Your life’s no longer forfeit, but for your crime you’ll surely pay,
For the sentence of this court is transportation to Botany Bay.
A woman cries out in the court as her husband is lead away,
For only two weeks before was her wedding day,
A frightened look toward his wife, no sound from trembling lips,
As he is chained and led away, to the waiting prison ships.
Together with a hundred souls he is locked in the hold,
To lie upon rotten straw, to shiver in the cold,
The sleep of exhaustion comes amid his comrade’s cries,
As a young lad of seventeen, loses hope, and silently he dies.
The days and weeks slip slowly by aboard the floating hell,
As time is measured watch by watch, by the tolling of a bell,
The officers and crew care little for their needs,
Thinking it just punishment, payment for past deeds.
Land at last is sighted and the prisoners are put ashore,
To help build a colony, with bare hands, little more,
But man is resilient when put to the test,
And soon the prisoners are working with energy and zest.
Life in the colony though troubled and perverse,
As privation and adversity sought to do its very worst.
But as prisoners are pardoned they began each a new life,
And from the settlers daughters, many took themselves a wife.
They spread across the face of the new unbroken land,
And turned a hostile wilderness into their own hard won Promised Land.
A patchwork of towns and settlements soon began to grow,
As the seed of a nation, the settlers began to sow.
As the years roll by old stigmas are put to rest,
Ex convict and settler, pass the final test,
They carved a new nation on dreams built to last,
A credit to the few from the not so distant past.
The temper of the people – rough, some say crude,
Is a reflection of the country when it is closely viewed,
But from Sydney Town to Melbourne, Alice to Ayres Rock,
The “big hearted Aussie” comes from proven fighting stock.
A short two hundred years, in fact no time at all,
Built a nation out of misfits that answered to the call,
Each time the Mother Country looked to them for aid,
They answered in their thousands, and with their lives too many paid.
From the prisoner in the dock who left his home in chains,
Who was the forebear of a freeman, who would never know his pains,
The industry of the settlers in their new found land, was their Mother Countries loss,
We are proud of our Aussie cousins, that dwell under the Southern Cross.