Convict Power

Narration: Denis Kevans

The first railway in Australia was built in 1836, by convicts at Port Arthur, Tasmania. Convicts were also used to push the single carriage, which ran on the five mile track, across the Tasman Peninsular. The train ran on wooden rails which were cut from gum trees which grew beside the track. It allowed travellers to avoid the rough voyage across Storm Bay, and around Tasman Island, when they were visiting the Convict Settlement. One of the convicts was Frank MacNamara or "Frank the Poet". And Frank wrote many poems about his experiences as a convict. While working as a shepherd on the Peel River, he was told he was going to be sent underground at Newcastle to wheel coals in very unsafe mines. He refused to go. And though he was punished a number of times by flogging, he still refused and he wrote this poem expressing his feelings about being sent underground.

Poem: For the Company Underground by Francis MacNamara (1839), from Frank the Poet John Meredith and Rex Whalan.
Recited by Denis Kevans
Francis MacNamara of Newcastle to J. Crosdale Esq. greeting.

When Christ from Heaven comes down straightway,
All His Father's laws to expound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When the man in the moon to Moreton Bay,
Is sent in shackles bound
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When the quick and the dead shall stand in array
Cited at the trumpet's sound,
Even then, damn me if I'd work a day
For the Company underground.

Nor overground.

Railway Voices CD Track List

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