Tune of the Day: Bound for South Australia
This sea shanty, also known as “Rolling King”, has historically been used as a worksong in a variety of trades, as we know it was sung by the wool and wheat traders who worked the clipper ships between Australian ports and London. In adapted form, it is now a very popular song among folk music performers.
The tune was first noted by sea music author Laura A. Smith, who collected it “from a coloured seaman at the [Sailors'] 'Home'” in London and published it in her 1888 collection The Music of the Waters.
Information on the age, spread, and practical use of the shanty is relatively sparse. However, the evidence at hand does not suggest there is anything particularly “Australian” about the song, contrary to how it has become popularly envisioned since the late 20th century.