Song words

Australian Islander Tribute: song lyrics

Sparkling islands in the South Seas
Surpassingly beautiful: mountains, beaches and trees;
Brilliant greenery, rich wooded hills,
Down to the water’s edge, bright colour spills.

In the sunlight, seas of glass: clear, deep and blue;
Caverns, grottoes in the rocks, corals of every hue.
Sparkling islands in the South Seas,
Indescribable charms are there in the soft tropical breeze.

Then into the tranquil bay, a tall white ship is moored,
Rifles fired, tomahawks swung, Islanders pulled on board.
Children snatched from families, men taken from their wives,
Wives stolen from their men – the ruin of innocent lives.

And we hear the cries, and we see the tears, and pity the agony!

Island women, island men,

Stolen from home to who knows where, til who knows when.
Island women, island men,
How sorry we are for what the recruiters did then!

In the holds of stealing-ships, to Queensland they were brought,
To work the cotton and sugar cane – labour cheaply bought;
Told it would be three long years, ten hours for fourpence a day,
Dreaming of home for thirty-nine moons, before they could sail away.

And they made the roads, and they felled the trees,
and quarried and built stone walls.

Island women, island men,
We thank you now for what your forebears did then.
Island woman, island man,
We honour your life, your contribution to our land.

Too long unknown, too long ignored, let your story now be told.

Words & Music © 2013 & 2015 David Bunton.

With acknowledgement of words & phrases from John G Paton & Maggie Whitecross Paton (1860s-1890s); from the report of the 1885 Royal Commission; from Thirty-nine Moons by Ailsa Rolley (2010); from discussions with Kathleen Mary Fallon; and from Sue Pearson for the title.