Moreton Bay

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(Left) The notoriously harsh Commandant of the Moreton Bay Penal Colony, Captain Patrick Logan

This ballad by the famous convict poet Frank Macnamara, better known as ‘Frank the Poet’, describes the brutal treatment faced by the convicts at the infamous penal colony of Moreton Bay, Queensland. His harrowing descriptions of the Commandant, Captain Logan’s cruelty earned the unfortunate captain his infamous place in Australian history. So cruel was Logan, that Frank included him in his poem ‘A Convict’s Tour to Hell’ as eternally suffering in purgatory for his injustices.

Ned Kelly used some lines from the ballad in his ‘Jerilderie Letter’ in 1879; ‘Port McQuarrie Toweringabbie Norfolk island and Emu plains and in those places of tyranny and condemnation many a blooming Irish man rather than subdue to the Saxon yoke were flogged to death and bravely died in servile chains.’

I am a native of the land of Erin
I was early banished from my native shore
On the ship Columbus went circular sailing
And I left behind me the girl I adore

Over bounding billows which was loudly raging
Like a bold sea mariner my course did steer
We were bound for Sydney our destination
And every day in irons wore

When I arrived ’twas in Port Jackson
And I thought my days would happy be
But I found out I was greatly mistaken
I was taken a prisoner to Moreton Bay

Moreton Bay you’ll find no equal
Norfolk Island and Emu Plains
At Castle Hill and cursed Toongabie
And all time places in New South Wales

Now every morning as the day was dawning
As we rose from heaven fell the morning dew
And we were roused without a moments warning
Our daily labour to renew

For three long years I was beastly treated
And heavy irons on my legs I wore
My back from flogging was lacerated
And oft-times painted with crimson gore

Like the Egyptians and ancient Hebrews
We were oppressed under Logan’s yoke
But a native black there lay in ambush
Did give this tyrant a mortal stroke

Now fellow prisoners be exhilarated
That all such monsters such death may find
And when from bondage we are liberated
From our former sufferings shall fade from mind

But Moreton Bay you’ll find no equal
Norfolk Island or Emu Plains
At Castle Hills and cursed Toongabie
And all time places in New South Wales

 

 

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