Doerflinger provides context in the 1851 discovery of gold in Australia which was quickly followed by a rapid influx of emigrants. Captain A. H. Clark wrote that passengers from Britain increased from 100,000 to 340,000 per year during 1851-1854. Captain Patrick Tayleur said this song was often struck up to cheer the emigrants as they came aboard (among other times).
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Now I'm leaving old England, the land that I love, And I'm bound out far across the sea. Oh I'm bound to Australia, the land of the free, Where there will be a welcome for me.
So fill up your glasses and drink what you please, For no matter's the damage, oh, I'll pay; So be aisy and free whilst you're drinking with me, Sure, I'm the man you don't meet every day.
Now when I boarded my ship for to go She was looking all snug and trim; For I landed aboard with my bag and baggage, And the mate he told me just where to go.
Now down to Gravesend, oh, soon we did go, And the customs they came on board, And inspected us all and called out our names: There was girls and boys all galore.
They let go of us and we soon sailed away Down to the Nore and around. Oh, the Foreland's in sight, oh, it became late at night, But I was the man they didn't meet every day.
Now we sailed down the Channel of old England, and away To the Ushant and far across the bay; Oh, out into the Roaring Forties did stay, And it's here were our westerly wainds.
Now I'll never forget the look on the Old Man's face As he roared: 'All stuns'ls we'll set.' Oh, we're bound to the island of St. Helena, And around the cape of Good Hope we will get.
Now I ofttimes have wondered just what he meant When he roared like a bull to the mate; But the mate understood, and soon they were bound. We're the men you don't meet every day.
We rounded the Cape with a fair waind abaft, And soon we were running our easting down. We were bound to the Semaphore and the southern shores, And good lord, how the wind did roar.
Now we got round the Heads and into Sydney harbour, Where the bays are all fine to look upon. Oh the doctor he came on board and examined us, And, 'What a fine crowd', the words he did say.
Now I've worked hard in Australia for thirty long years, And today, sure, I'm homeward bound, With a nice little fortune for to call me own; I'm bound home, but not the same way I came out.
Oh I'm sorry I'm leaving you all today, For I'm homeward bound, don't you see? But a different way to the way I came out; I am going home on a steamboat, you see.
Then it's goodbye to one and it's goodbye to all, For I'm bound home for England's merry country; And my girl I will find, the one I left behind, And I'll make her as happy as can be.