Moreton Bay

I don't know where I first heard this song, a rather mournful but telling tale about the way prisoners were treated in the early days of Australia.  It is called "Moreton Bay".  The Bay is where I love to live - at least on the land side.  Moreton Bay is that huge area into which the Brisbane River runs.  Of course we know that the city of Brisbane was built around the huge Brisbane River, the one that sadly has flooded causing much damage in the area in recent years.

Not far from the mouth of the Brisbane River is St Helena Island, not a tourist destination and National Park, but the 'home' to some of our state's early criminals.  It is said that no one escaped from the island - it is a long swim from the mainland, and there were  bound to be hungry sharks waiting for a feed.

This morning I heard the song Moreton Bay on ABC 106.1 (my so very favourite FM Radio station which I listen to from the minute I wake in the morning and in the car.  I love my classical music - and almost anything that is played on this station.  Not real keen on much classical singing, but mostly I can put up with it.  It is the instrumental and orchestral work that I love. I digress.

These are the lyrics (courtesy of Wikipedia)

One Sunday morning as I went walking
By Brisbane waters I chanced to stray
I heard a convict his fate bewailing
As on the sunny river bank he lay
I am a native from Erin's island
and banished now from my native shore
They tore me from my aged parents
And from the maiden whom I do adore

I've been a prisoner at Port Macquarie
At Norfolk Island and Emu Plains
At Castle Hill and at cursed Toongabbie
At all those settlements I've woked in chains
But of all places of condemnation
And penal stations of New South Wales
Of Moreton Bay I have found no equal
Excessive tyranny each day prevails

For three long years I was beastly treated
And heavy irons on my legs I wore
My back with flogging is lacerated
And often painted with my crimson gore
And many a man from downright starvation
Lies mouldering now underneath the clay
And Captain Logan he had us mangled
At the triangles of Moreton Bay

Like the Egyptians and ancient Hebrews
We were oppressed under Logan's yoke
Till a native black lying there in ambush
Did give our tyrant his mortal stroke
My fellow prisoners exhilarated
That all such monsters a death may find
And when from bondage we’re liberated
Our former sufferings shall fade from mind

According to Wikipedia  "Moreton Bay is an Australian Folk Song attributed to Francis MacNamara, originally titled 'The Convict's Arrival' or 'The Convict's Lament on the Death of Captain Logan'. It tells of the hardship a convict has experienced at different penal settlements around Australia, in particular, the penal colony at Moreton Bay which was established to house convicts that reoffended in settlements in New South Wales. "  A very brutal time in Australia's history!


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