Definitions of Australian terms can be found below the song…


Definitions of Australian terms:

rum culls - friends
Old Bailey - famous English prison
To cut a swell - to make a good impression
a swell - well dressed person
dookies - not a real word at all but from 'dukes'


Leigh, who sent me this song, wrote the following, "Here's a song from colonial days that every Aussie child learns sometime. Its origins are probably from an English music hall and not from Australia at all. It is obviously written by a songwriter and meant to entertain. It is about the convict days when any small crime would have you shipped to Australia for 7 years. Verse 2 is about life on the convict ships. The last verse is directed to English girls and boys as warning not to steal."

A site called Australian Folk Songs states the following "First published in Sydney Golden Songster in 1893 This song is a burlesque, written by Stephens and Yardley, from the comedy 'Little Jack Shepherd' that played in London in 1885, and in Melbourne in 1886. 'Botany Bay' shares two verses with 'Fairwell to Judges and Juries' a broadside c.1820."



Many thanks to Michael Kunta for sending me his rendition of Botany Bay from Tasmania, Australia.

Sheet Music

Sheet Music - Botany Bay

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Leigh Newton (songwriter and entertainer of children and adults) for contributing this song.