> Danny Spooner > Songs > Anderson's Coast

Anderson's Coast

[John Warner]

Cockersdale sang John Warner's song Anderson's Coast in 1997 on their Fellside CD Wide Open Skies. They noted:

This song is from John Warner's CD about the Australian mining industry, Pithead in the Fern. John has the ability to make a song sound as if it were contemporaneous with the action. This is a song that has a lovely feel about it and we enjoy it more each time we sing it.

Nancy Kerr and James Fagan sang Anderson's Coast in 1999 on their Fellside CD Steely Water, and James Fagan sang it on the 2013 anthology Kelham Island Voices. They noted:

Australian Singer John Warner writes evocative and beautifully poetic songs, many drawing on Australian colonial history. Anderson's Coast concerns of a group of convicts who escaped Van Diemen's Land in a stolen ship, only to be wrecked by the notorious Bass Strait waves in the Gippsland coast (in Victoria). The explorer Strzelecki and his small band stumbled out of dense rain forest and encountered the marooned men. Strzelecki would probably have perished had it not been for his Koori guide Charlie Tarra and this group of convicts who led him to Anderson, a pioneer settler who ran cattle on the South Gippsland coast. Apparently the convicts were pardoned for their contribution to the explorer's survival.

We have been constantly singing this in our heads or out loud ever since we first heard it.

Danny Spooner sang Anderson's Coast on his 2002 CD Launch Out on the Deep. He noted:

One of the best singer/songwriters I've ever heard is John Warner. He resides in Sydney and his passion for folksongs is only exceeded by his passion for the stories of early Australia which form the basis of much of his writing. To escape from a penal station usually meant death but this didn't prevent many convicts trying. This group got away from Van Diemen's Land to the Gippsland coast. While there was no chance of rescue for them, the convicts of this song saved the life of Count Strzelecki and his party in 1840, when they led the starving explorers to a pioneer settler at Tooradin.

John Roberts and Debra Cowan sang Anderson's Coast on their 2015 CD Ballads Long & Short. They noted:

Anderson's Coast, from the pen of John Warner of Sydney, records the isolation of a convict marooned on the Gippsland coast after a group escape from the penal colony in Tasmania (still Van Diemen's Land in the 1840s), stealing a boat to sail across the treacherous Bass Strait to the Australian mainland, with death the penalty for being recaptured. The story goes that a small band of explorers led by Count Strzelecki, close to starvation, came across the convicts living in a deserted stockade. These convicts fed the explorers, then guided them to Anderson, a local squatter, and safety. It is believed that the convicts were pardoned for their help. John learned the song from Danny Spooner, and it has changed a bit from John Warner's original.

Niamh Boadle sang Anderson's Coast in 2017 on Newcastle upon Tyne based group Northern Company's eponymous EP Northern Company.

Hector Gilchrist sang Anderson's Coast in 2018 on his WildGoose CD Gleanings.


John Roberts and Debra Cowan sing Anderson's Coast

Old Bass Strait roars like a great mill race
    And where are you, my Annie?
And the same moon shines on this distant place
As shone that night on my Annie's face.

Chorus (after each verse):
And Annie dear, don't wait for me,
I fear I'll never return to thee.
There's naught to do but endure my fate
And watch the moon, the lonely moon,
Light the breakers of wild Bass Strait.

We stole a vessel and all her gear
    And where are you, my Annie?
And from Van Diemen's north did steer
Till Bass Strait's wild waves, they wrecked us here.

A mile inland as our path was laid
    And where are you, my Annie?
We found a government stockade,
Long, long deserted, but stoutly made.

And somewhere's west port Melbourne lies
    And where are you, my Annie?
Through swamps infested with snakes and flies
And the fool who walks there, the fool he dies.

We hail no ships, though time it drags,
    And where are you, my Annie?
For our chain gang roll and government rags,
They mark us out as Van Diemen's lags.

We fled the lash and the chafing chain,
    And where are you, my Annie?
We fled starvation and brutal pain,
But here we are, and here remain.