The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168402   Message #4080847
Posted By: Stewie
24-Nov-20 - 06:13 PM
Thread Name: Mudcat Australia/NZ Songbook
Subject: RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
Well said, R-J. I agree completely with both your opinion posts above.


The night fell dark on the quiet sea
The Birchgrove Park rode restlessly
A collier on the short run down
Of nineteen men there were eight men who drowned

A sudden lurch as she slid below
The way that all the colliers go
If home bound men had battened down
There’d be eight good men who would not have drowned

Oh Sydney waters are green and cold
Take life from men with a freezing hold
They say that men on the colliers drown
When the cargo rolls – not battened down

Oh beckoning lights of Sydney Town
Still beckoning men as the ship goes down
It is for the love of your winking lights
That colliers drown on lonely nights

Youtube clip

The Fagans did a fine recording of this on their 'Turning Fine' album. They had this note:

Eight seamen lost their lives when a collier called The Birchgrove sank off Sydney Heads in 1956. Merv Lilley's haunting poem was published in the anthology 'What About the People' and again in John Lahey's 'Great Australian Folk Songs' in 1965 with another of Bill Berry's wonderful
settings. We learned it from Joe and Adele flood.