The Song of Australia

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Song of Australia

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The Song of Australia: Gawler’s ‘national song’ competition (1)

The year 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of the writing of The Song of Australia. The inspiration that prompted the Gawler Institute to conduct a competition to find a ‘national song’ is now lost in the annals of time but there may be clues in the words of James Martin who was then president of the Institute. When commenting on the achievements of the Institute during 1859 he said he believed that the Institute had ‘attained a position far in advance of any outside Adelaide’ but not being contented ‘with such a distinction’ the Committee had ‘endeavoured to advance all previous effort’.(2)

In his president’s report of May 1860, James Martin refers to the criticism levelled at the Institute for awarding £21 to the ‘prize song’ at a time when the Institute was suffering from the ‘general depression’. He urged the detractors to look beyond the cost and remember that the purpose of the Gawler Institute was to promote a love of literature. The offering of prizes, he said, stimulated ‘into activity, the thought, poetry and patriotism of South Australians’ and ‘vindicated its claim in being in reality an Institute, something more than a reading room, or circulating library’. He concluded that being the first institute in the colony to stimulate ‘intellectual rivalry in letters’ could only be a positive influence in gaining future ‘sympathy and support’ from the government. An added bonus was that the sales of the music had assisted with funding for the Institute in troubled economic times.(3)

Perhaps the idea was to prove that Gawler was the centre of literary endeavour and a town worthy of note. Whatever the reason, George Isaacs, a committee member of the Gawler Institute which had been founded in 1857, was inspired to call a special meeting on 6 September 1859 to propose an ‘entertainment’ for the second anniversary of the Institute. The event was to include ‘a short drama or burlesque’ and ‘an amateur performance consisting of instrumentalists and vocalists and a prize of ten pounds each to the best song to be entitled The Song of Australia, and to the best composer of music suitable for it’.(4)

A public notice calling for entries for The Song of Australia competition appeared in The Advertiser on 1 October 1859. The judges were listed as John H Barrow MP, John Brown, John Howard Clark, Hon A Forster MLC, W C Wearing and E J Peake MP.(5) The copyright of the prize-winning words would become the property of the Gawler Institute. Competitors were advised that they could ‘adopt any treatment of subject or rhythmical measure, so as the composition is in accordance with the title and suitable for musical expression’.(6) In order to ensure anonymity, competitors were also advised that entries ‘must not bear the name of the author, but a motto’ and that ‘Poem for Prize’ should be written on the envelope addressed to George Isaacs, Gawler. Enclosed in a second envelope should be the competitor’s name and on the outside should be written his motto.(7)It seems that the Committee expected entries only from men. In the same newspaper that day, another public notice advised would-be composers that, immediately after the awarding of the prize for the words, entries for original music would be called. The judges for the music were named as G W Chinner, F S Dutton MP, A Ewing DACG and W Holden.(8)Similar notices appeared in The Register on 3 October 1859.(9)

In The Advertiser of 20 October 1859, the winner of the competition for the words was announced under the heading ‘The Gawler Prize Song’. Readers were informed that the judges had the ‘somewhat laborious task of reading 93 poems’ and that ‘it was not an easy task to come to a conclusion’.(10) The Judges’ Report stated: South Australian Institute, Oct, 19, 1859 The Judges appointed to select the best poem from the number forwarded by the Gawler Committee, beg to report that they have twice met, and devoted considerable time and attention to the compositions submitted to their judgment. They have had much difficulty in arriving at a decision as to the song best entitled to the prize, on account of four or five other productions being of nearly equal merit; but after carefully comparing those reserved for final review, have determined to give preference to Song No. 80, and bearing the motto ‘Nil Desperandum’.(11)

The Advertiser of the following day carried a public notice which formally announced that the winner for the best words for a patriotic song was Mrs C J Carleton of Adelaide. The Committee stated that it regretted not having the funds to award ‘other prizes to various meritorious productions’ and in an effort to ‘encourage native talent’ the Institute intended ‘publishing a careful selection from amongst them’ provided there were no objections from the competitors concerned.(12) Following this announcement, in another public notice, the Gawler Institute called for entries for the music to The Song of Australia’.(13) The conditions were ‘that the air be written in the G clef, and in any key the composer may select; but not to range below C or above upper G. The chorus (if any) to be written for three or four voices’.(14) The requirements for sending entries was similar to the entry process for the words, ensuring anonymity until a winner was chosen.

The awarding of the prize to Caroline Carleton stimulated much public comment in the local press. One critic, ‘T.V.’, referred to the ‘prize song of Australia’ as ‘a tolerably good nursery rhyme’ that was ‘not the right thing’ to ever ‘become the popular national song. ‘T.V.’ considered the poem to be ‘calm, soft, gentle and feminine’, suitable to be sung by a cluster of juveniles at a tea party’ rather than ‘short, bold, masculine and full of fire’, something that a woman was not capable of composing.(15)‘W. Heritage’ expressed a similar view writing that the song, although in many respects a beautiful production’, had ‘neither sufficient fire, nor the comprehensive view of the subject which a patriotic song should possess’.(16)‘Cantator’ of Goolwa was reluctant to criticise the winner of the prize poem ‘particularly when the winner of laurels is a lady’. Nevertheless, he thought that the ‘metre and peculiar construction’ made it unsuitable for setting to music’.(17)‘T’ commented on the ‘already sufficiently gloomy’ prospects of the colony. He thought that with ninety-three poets in residence ‘we are in almost a hopeless condition’. T’ concluded that it would be better to import the poetry rather than paying poets. That way, time would not be wasted by men and women writing poetry rather than getting on with their work and nor would the taxpayers money be wasted by the judges who agreed to read ‘the miserable cudgel-brained rhyming submitted to them’.(18)

Caroline Carleton answered her critics with the following:

A thousand faults the critics find, To shreds and tatters rend it; One only fault she find with thou - 'Tis that they can not mend it.(19)

In an effort to stem the tide of criticism, The Adelaide Observer, in an editorial column on 29 October 1859, paid tribute to the Gawler Institute for devising a ‘plan of encouraging the literary tastes of the colony’ and for ‘being the first in the colony to invite public competition in works of literature’. However, despite ‘a very useful precedent’ being set, it was thought that the poets had been given a difficult task in being asked ‘to write a national song for a country which as yet may be said to be without a nationality’. Even so the writer could not help but add criticism of his own when stating that it was not surprising then that the competition failed to produce something ‘akin to Rule Britannia or The Star-Spangled Banner’. He concluded that the ‘great future of this southern empire might at all events have been a theme worth attempting’ and which hopefully may have elicited ‘more than the mere prettiness of our natural scenery, with its fruits and flowers, and blue skies’.(20)

The level of criticism rose to such a point that on 1 November 1859, The Advertiser advised that it would not be publishing any more of the Gawler poems. ‘All the unpublished matter ... yet standing in type’ was to be disposed of to make space for ‘important matter’ such as ‘heavy reports’ and the ‘English mail’.(21)

The Gawler correspondent reported in the 5 November 1859 edition of The Advertiser that the Gawler Institute Committee had received twenty-three musical compositions for the Gawler Prize Poem and that those entries had been forwarded to the judges for consideration. The correspondent stated that he understood the Committee intended to ‘publish 1,000 copies of the first edition of the Song and Music’.(22)

In The Advertiser of 18 November 1859 Carl Linger was named as the winner of the prize for the best musical composition set to the words written by Caroline Carleton.(23)Payment of the prize money was authorised by the Gawler Institute Committee at its meeting on 25 November 1859.(24) However,The Adelaide Observer had already carried this story on 5 November and had included the Judges report:

The Judges appointed to award the prize for the best musical composition set to the words of the prize song, entitled ‘The Song of Australia’, met on Friday, the 4th November - present, Messrs. Dutton, Ewing, Chinner and Holden. Twenty-three compositions were examined, and the prize was unanimously awarded to the composition bearing the motto ‘One of the Quantity’. Those bearing the motto ‘Long Live our Gracious Queen’, ‘Garibaldi’ and ‘Con Amore’; so nearly equalled the prize composition in merit that the Judges had great difficulty in coming to a decision.(25)

A public notice in The Advertiser of 2 November 1859, advised of a concert to be held on 8 November 1859, under the patronage of the South Australian Volunteers and featuring Signor Cutolo who would ‘be assisted by the following Artistes: Mrs Perryman, Miss Rowe, Miss Bryan, Mr Daniel, Mr Christen, and Mr Hermann Oehlmann, tenor’.(26) The concert was later reported to be a great success.(27) The Song of Australia although having been advertised, was withdrawn from the program but ‘it was demanded by the audience, and Miss Bryan sang it most sweetly, being rewarded (or punished) with an encore’. The tune was not original but one which was identified by the writer of the report as Shells of the Ocean.(28) The song was likely more correctly known as Shells of Ocean, written by J W Lake and J W Cherry and which was described as ‘the most popular song of the day’ by its publishers, Woolcott and Clarke of Sydney.(29)

In The Adelaide Observer of 12 November 1859, it was revealed that the composition bearing the motto ‘Garibaldi’ was written by Signor Cutolo.(30) The other two compositions which the judges found to be almost as good as the winning entry were, in fact, written by Carl Linger.(31) At the meeting of the Gawler Institute Committee on 25 November 1859, a concert to celebrate the second anniversary of the Institute was agreed upon. Carl Linger was to be invited to conduct the concert but he was instructed that Signor Cutolo was to play no part.(32) One can only now suspect that he was excluded because of his part in the performance of the words of The Song of Australia to a different tune on 8 November 1859.

On the evening of 12 December 1859, The Song of Australia was first performed in public at the Oddfellows’ Hall, Gawler to celebrate the second anniversary of the Gawler Institute. It was reported that between 200 and 300 people attended, some travelling by train from Adelaide for the occasion. Early in the evening, copies of the words and music were distributed to the audience. The Brunswick Band and a number of singers and instrumentalists performed and at about mid-way through the program, ‘the Prize Song of Australia’ was introduced. The piece was arranged for the concert as a solo and quartette for four voices. The verses were sung as solos by Miss Rowe, Mrs Perryman, Mr Daniel and Mr Oehlmann each taking a verse alternately with all singing the chorus as a quartette. No mention is made of the type of accompaniment but it is likely that this first performance of The Song of Australia was accompanied by Carl Linger on piano and not by the Brunswick Band. The Song was ‘very favourably received by the audience who broke into loud applause at the end of each verse’. When the song was finished the audience showed great appreciation and ‘loudly called for Herr Linger, who came forward and bowed his acknowledgments’. Later in the concert ‘Miss Rowe performed a fantasia of The Song of Australia composed by Herr Linger’ and the concert concluded with a ‘melange’ of national anthems, beginning with that of England and ending with The Song of Australia.(33)

The first edition of The Song of Australia was published by Penman & Galbraith. The Institute had decided to have 1000 copies printed(34)for sale at ‘half a crown’ each,(35)about $17.00 in today’s money.(36)Some of these first copies were given to those attending the Second Anniversary Concert(37) and some were sold in places like the Congregational Church Bazaar in early 1860.(38) By May 1860, proceeds from the sale of music was £58 10s.(39) Upon return from a visit to Melbourne in 1863, the president of the Institute reported that The Song of Australia was unknown in that colony and that 100 copies were to be sent for sale.(40)

In a letter dated 18 November 1874 written to the Secretary of the Gawler Institute, S Marshall of Adelaide enquired whether the Institute would consider selling the copyright of 'The Song of Australia.(41) A subsequent communication dated 1 March 1875 from S Marshall to the Institute Committee requested by return post the price he would be charged for The Song of Australia.(42) The decision was obviously not made hurriedly but by November 1877 there was a resolve to sell the copyright. An entry in the Minutes states that Marshall & Son had advised by letter that they were willing to pay £10 for the rights to The Song. The Committee accepted the offer and the copyright was transferred.(43)

After the sale of the copyright, many editions of The Song of Australia were printed by various publishers. In 1877, it was published as a supplement in Frearson’s Weekly and featured a line drawing of the Gawler Institute on the cover. Other editions have been published in music albums and in song books of national and patriotic songs. The original music was written in the key of B Flat for solo and vocal quartet, and with piano accompaniment. Several arrangements since then have been in either the key of F or G. These keys have proven more suitable for the general singing range.(44)

Ronald A V Wallace states that there have been various arrangements of The Song for orchestra, band and choir. W B Chinner was one of the first to write a new choral arrangement. It was harmonised and arranged as a part-song.(45) Chinner also wrote a new music score titled Concordia: Fantasia on the "Song of Australia” & “God Save the Queen".(46) Both Professor Joshua Ives and Dr Harold Davies produced choral arrangements.(47)

Wallace states that the original manuscript for The Song of Australia was sold in 1904 to Mr G G Shaw, a collector of South Australian historical material. He did not keep it for long before it passed into the hands of Mr A W Piper, who had it bound.(48) The manuscript was eventually deposited with the State Archives during 1939 after being in the safe-keeping of Mr C J Young since 1915.(49) It is now kept at State Records.(50)

The Song of Australia was thought to be a suitable contender for Australia’s national song. In with the raising and saluting of the flag. The Education Department also encouraged the singing of The Song by school children whenever they were involved in an official function.(51)

Dignitaries visiting Gawler were often presented with special bound copies of The Song of Australia as it was thought to be an admirable gift and memento. Among those to receive such a gift were Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (1867), governors of South Australia, Sir Thomas Fowell Burton (1887) and Lord Hallam Tennyson (1900).(52) Wallace states that a copy of The Song of Australia was presented to every royal visitor to South Australia (at least up until 1999).(53) He also records that, during the First World War, many thousands of copies were sent by the YMCA to Australian soldiers overseas. In 1918, the Adelaide Branch of the League of Loyal Women sent 15,000 copies of The Song in ‘Christmas Billycans’ to the Western Front.(54)

The Song of Australia was always popular in South Australia but it was never well-known in the other colonies (and later, states) of Australia. Despite this, there were a number of attempts to have it adopted as Australia’s national anthem. During the early 1970s, the Lions Clubs of South Australia led a vigorous campaign to have it acclaimed as the national anthem but figures from a 1974 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey showed that the preference was for Advance Australia Fair. In fact The Song of Australia came in a very poor last behind Advance Australia Fair , 'Waltzing Matilda and ‘others’.(55) Results of a national survey which were published in an edition of The Advertiser in May 1977 showed that the preferred national anthem was Advance Australia Fair (43.2%), followed by Waltzing Matilda (28.3%), God Save the Queen (18.7%) and The Song of Australia (9.8%).(56) Despite the early efforts of members of the Gawler Institute to spread Italic text far and wide, it was not well-known in the other States.

The Poet - Caroline Carleton

Rae Webling, in her publication "A Song of Australia”: Caroline Carleton 1820-1874, describes Caroline Carleton as highly intelligent, well-educated, resourceful and resilient. She spoke English, French and Italian fluently and had a working knowledge of Latin.(57) Caroline was born at Bonner Hall, near London, on 1 July 1820. At 16 years of age, she married Charles James Carleton, a young medical student. In 1839 the Carletons, with two young children, departed London for South Australia aboard the ship Prince Regent. During the voyage which was made unbearable by high seas and the lack of provisions, both children died and were buried at sea. The ship arrived at Glenelg on 26 September 1839 and the Carletons eventually settled in Gouger Street, Adelaide.(58)

Charles Carleton, after several short-lived ventures, including farming, starch and glue manufacture, smelting operations, chemist and manufacturer of baking powder(59), became medical dispenser to Dr Nash, the first Colonial Surgeon. Caroline and Charles lived at the Adelaide Hospital, where two of their six children were born. Later, in 1847, the family moved to Kapunda, where Charles worked as an assayer and medical officer. After returning to Adelaide, he opened chemist shops in Rundle and Gouger Streets, and at Hindmarsh.(60)

The discovery of gold in 1851 lured Charles Carleton went to Victoria. It is not clear if he went to try his luck or to work, perhaps as a medical officer, but in any event he did not stay long, returning to Adelaide on 4 August 1852.(61) Three months later, Charles Carleton was appointed to the position of superintendent of the West Terrace Cemetery. At the same time, he was appointed as sexton (later curator) of the Anglican Cemetery.(62) Charles began enthusiastically but was soon facing criticism about his management of the cemetery. By April 1856, his method of keeping the burial register was attracting criticism and the cemetery was besieged by financial difficulties. Increasingly, he complained to the government that the resources available to him were inadequate.(63) Further criticism and the government’s refusal to increase funding quashed enthusiasm and sent Charles’ health into decline. On 22 July 1861, Caroline Carleton notified the Chief Secretary that her husband had died and ’asked him to delay appointing a successor until a memorial in her favour could be presented to the governor’.(64)

After her husband’s death, it became apparent that, in the previous three years, Caroline Carleton had played a significant role in the management of the cemetery. She appealed to the governor to appoint her as superintendent since she had carried out all the necessary duties during her husband’s illness. The response from the chief secretary, however, rejected her application stating that the position ‘required an oversight and decision, such as no lady of education could be expected to possess’.(65) Caroline appealed, stating that she had, during the three years of her husband’s illness, been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the cemetery and had written reports ‘upon two difficult cases’.(66) The appeal was rejected and on 27 August 1861, a new superintendent was appointed and instructed to ‘as much as possible consult the feelings and convenience of Mrs Carleton by allowing her ample time for removing her family from the premises and making necessary arrangements for their future accommodation elsewhere’.(67) She remained at the cemetery for a further three weeks before moving into the city.(68)

While in residence at the West Terrace Cemetery, Caroline had established herself as a poet. She responded to the advertisement placed by the Gawler Institute calling for entries in a competition for the lyrics for a patriotic song to be titled The Song of Australia. Legend has it that Caroline wrote the five verses while sitting on a bench in the grounds of the cemetery ‘with her children playing at her feet’.(69)

Following the death of her husband, Caroline was left with five young children (one had died in infancy) to support and raise. Having been denied appointment to the position of superintendent at the West Terrace Cemetery, she set about establishing a number of private schools in Adelaide. Later she set up a school at Wallaroo which, when functioning well, she left in the care of her eldest daughter. Caroline made occasional visits to introduce new programs to the school and on one visit she became ill and died shortly after, on 10 July 1874, at the age of 54.(70) She was buried at the Wallaroo Cemetery.

The Composer - Carl Linger

Carl Ferdinand August Linger was born on 15 March 1810, in Berlin. The son of an engraver, he was encouraged from an early age to study music. His composing career was already established before he migrated to South Australia and he had gained recognition for composing two operas, masses, symphonies, cantatas and other musical works.(71)

The political unrest which swept across Europe in 1848, resulting in revolutions in many countries, created an atmosphere from which many desired escape. The Berlin Migration Society was formed and with a group of intellectuals, Carl and his wife, Wilhelmine, sailed from Hamburg on the Prinzessin Luise, departing on 26 March 1849.(72)

In a letter dated 20 March 1852 written to his mother, Carl describes the trip which was made difficult by cramped space, confusion and ‘unusual’ food. On 27 March 1849, at 4pm, in very stormy waters of the North Sea, his wife gave birth to a ‘sound girl’. ‘The little thing was greeted by passengers and crew with three hurrahs, and the ship …showed a great display of bunting’.(73) The remainder of the trip was uneventful and the Prinzessin Luise arrived at Port Adelaide on 7 August 1849.(74) Carl Linger applied for naturalisation on 30 August and it was granted on 1 September 1849.(75)

After arrival, Carl offered music lessons but finding pupils was difficult ‘partly because the country wasn’t yet cultured enough, partly because I hadn’t enough command of the English language’.(76) He was advised that the way to make money was by owning and working the land. He acquired eighty acres of land at Munno Para, ‘at the end of a grove in the plains, an hour and a half from the hills’.(77) A small section of the land was cleared, the soil was excellent but the water in the two wells was ‘most unsuitable’.(78) Carl spent more than £60 constructing a house, he felled trees, dug the soil, ploughed, grew potatoes and improved the land. Carl had a partner in the land venture (but apparently he was lazy) and as debts mounted he decided to go it alone.(79) He worked hard on the land for eighteen months but life was difficult: his wife was ‘wilting because she was not used to so hard labour for which she was not physically strong enough’ and his child was sick. In desperation, Carl left his wife in the care of her brother, Hermann Komoll, and went ‘to try his luck in the city.(80)

Three days after leaving Munno Para, he appeared in a public concert in Adelaide. His ‘woodcutter’s hands’ did not allow him to do any more than sing and accompany but he felt that people sensed that he was a real musician compared to former performances by others. He earned money by tuning pianos, copying music and playing at dance parties. After three weeks Carl was able to have his wife and child join him and he found he was able to pay off some of his debts. He was recommended as a music teacher to the ‘best English families’. After a short time, he was able to cease the piano-tuning work and playing at dances. He was busy, well-off and earned more money than he ever made in his best times in Germany. He felt he was respected by everybody and ‘held in great esteem by the most noble people’.(81)

Fourteen months after returning to the city, Carl had sold his property at Munno Para, had paid all his debts, bought new furniture, acquired ‘a magnificent instrument’ on which he spent £50, and sent his wife for two months to ‘the sea resort in the Bay’. He lived ‘in a nice dwelling’ on North Terrace ‘near the Governor’s Place’. His wife was no longer weak and his daughter, who had been christened Luise Marie Feodore in Adelaide, grew ‘into a strapping pretty girl who eats and drinks all day and plays in the backyard, chattering English as well as German’.(82)

By 1859, when Carl Linger entered the competition for The Song of Australia he was well-known in Adelaide. He was active in most of the musical societies and was for several years leader of the Adelaide Choral Society, often performing at their concerts. His compositions Ninety Third P'salmand Gloria appeared in a printed program of 1855, and his Concert Overture is dated 1856. He was the conductor of Adelaide’s first Philharmonic Orchestra(83), was one of founders of the Adelaide Liedertafel(84) and he formed and conducted the Brunswick Brass Band.(85) But despite his success, ‘his extreme modesty led to a tendency in him to depreciate his own attainments’.(86) When asked to publish more of his works, his answer was always ‘Germany has plenty of better music than mine in manuscript’.(87)

Wallace states that a friendship developed between Carl Linger and August Friedrich Cranz, thought to be a professor of music, and his wife, Christiane Cranz, a soloist with the Adelaide Choral Society. Newspapers reported that Madame Cranz gave her first concert in Adelaide in June 1850, about six months after she had arrived from Germany with her husband and children. During the years that followed Madame Cranz and Carl Linger appeared together in concert on numerous occasions.(88)

Carl Linger’s wife, Wilhelmine, died on 7 April 1860, at the age of 39 years. Carl’s health apparently declined after his wife’s death and before he died on 16 February 1862 at the age of 52, he arranged with Christiane Cranz to take his daughter to his mother in Germany. Wallace states that Carl married Christiane during 1861 but there is no record of this in the South Australian Marriages, Index of Registrations, 1842-1916.(89) Whether he married her or not, nine months before Carl’s death, a child, Carl Otto August Linger, was born on 6 May 1861 to Carl Linger and Mathilde Christiane Hogrefe.(90)

A ‘very large number’ of people attended Carl Linger’s interment at the West Terrace Cemetery.(91) The funeral procession which departed from his residence in Rundle Street consisted of ‘the Brunswick Brass Band, the Liedertafel, the hearse, and about 30 coaches and other vehicles, in which were seated the friends of the deceased and other gentlemen anxious to pay the last tribute of respect to a man whose talents as a musician and whose worth as a man have never been disputed’.(92)

Little is known of Christiane and the children after their return to Germany but in 1949, two of Carl Linger’s great grand-daughters came to Adelaide with their mother, Mrs Alice Haenel.(93) Alice, who was born in Adelaide, was the daughter of Jochim Matthias Wendt, an eminent silversmith and founder of Wendt’s Jewellers. Jochim Wendt had been a friend of Carl Linger and while on holiday in Germany with his daughters, Alice and Margaret, he located Carl’s daughter, Luise, in Leipzig. She had married Georg Friedrich Haenel, a doctor of ophthalmology and had three sons. Alice Wendt and Anton Erich Haenel were attracted to each other and eventually married in Adelaide on 24 January 1901. As a wedding gift, the couple was given a leather-bound copy of The Song of Australia.(94)

The Song of Australia'

Words by Caroline Carleton

There is a land where summer skies

Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,

Blending in witching harmonies;

And grassy knoll and forest height

Are flushing in the rosy light,

And all above is azure bright -


There is a land where honey flows,

Where laughing corn luxuriant grows,

Land of the myrtle and the rose;

On hill and plain the clust’ring vine

Is gushing out with purple wine,

And cups are quaff’d to thee and thine -


There is a land where treasures shine

Deep in the dark and unfathomed mine,

For worshippers at Mammon’s shrine -

Where gold lies hid, and rubies gleam;

And fabled wealth no more doth seem

The idle fancy of a dream -


There is a land where homesteads peep

From sunny plains and woodland steep,

And love and joy bright vigils keep;

Where the glad voice of childish glee

Is mingling with the melody

Of nature’s hidden minstrelsy -


There is a land where floating free,

From mountain-top to girdling sea,

A proud flag waves exultingly;

And FREEDOM’s sons the banners bear,

No shackled slave can breathe the air

Fairest of Britain’s daughters fair -

Australia, Australia! Australia!

(Source: The Advertiser, November 18, 1859, p. 5.)

Please click here to see photos relating to The Song of Australia.

Endnotes (1) The original version of this narrative was written by Anne Richards as part of her work as reference and research librarian at Gawler Public Library. The original version of this paper was published in printed form and on the Town of Gawler website during 2009 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Song of Australia. Written permission to publish the article in full or abbreviated form was granted by the Director of Corporate and Community Services, Town of Gawler on 1 June 2009.

(2) Gawler Institute, President’s Report, 24 October 1859.

(3) Gawler Institute, President’s Report, 8 May 1860.

(4) Gawler Institute, Minutes of Special Meeting, 6 September 1859.

(5) The judging panel consisted of public-spirited men of influence: John H Barrow was a member of parliament and co-owner of The Advertiser; John Brown was a supporter of the South Australian colonising movement, early settler and editor of the Southern Australian; John Howard Clark was as an accountant and Chairman of the South Australian Institute; Anthony Forster was part-owner of The South Australian Register and The Adelaide Observer, and a member of parliament; E J Peake was a member of parliament, stipendiary magistrate and vine grower (Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, various entries, accessed 3 September 2011).

(6) The Advertiser, 1 October 1859, p.1.

(7) The Advertiser, 1 October 1859, p.1.

(8) The Advertiser, 1 October 1859, p.1. This judging panel also consisted of men of influence: G W Chinner was a partner in a drapery business; F S Dutton was a member of parliament Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, various entries, accessed 3 September 2011).

(9) The Register, 3 October 3 1859, p.1.

(10)The Advertiser, 20 October 1859, p.2.

(11)The Advertiser, 20 October 1859, p.2.

(12)The Advertiser, 21 October 1859, p.1.

(13)The Advertiser, 21 October 1859, p.1.

(14)The Advertiser, 21 October 1859, p.1.

(15)The Advertiser, 24 October 1859, p.1.

(16)The Advertiser, 28 October 1859, p.2.

(17)The Adelaide Observer, 29 October 1859, p.5.

(18)The Advertiser, 28 October 1859, p.2.

(19)The Advertiser, 29 October 1859, p.3.

(20)The Adelaide Observer, 29 October 1859, p.6.

(21)The Advertiser, 1 November 1859, p.2.

(22)The Advertiser, 5 November 5 1859, p.3.

(23)The Advertiser, 18 November 18 1859, p.5.

(24)Gawler Institute, Minutes, 25 November 1859.

(25)Supplement to The Adelaide Observer, 5 November 1859, p.1.

(26)The Advertiser, 2 November 1859, p.1.

(27)The Advertiser, 9 November 1859, p.2.

(28)The Advertiser, 9 November 1859, p.2.

(29)National Library of Australia website,, accessed 12 May 2009.

(30)Desmond O’Connor, ‘Italians in South Australia: the First Hundred Years’, in D. O’Connor and A. Comin (eds), Proceedings: the First Conference on the Impact of Italians in South Australia, 16-17, July 1993, Adelaide, p.1. Desmond O’Connor describes Cesare Cutolo as a gifted pianist and composer who lived in South Australia from November 1858 to December 1859. Cutolo taught singing and piano and performed in concerts in Adelaide and South Australian country towns such as Reynella and Kapunda.

(31)The Adelaide Observer, 12 November 1859, p.6.

(32)The Adelaide Observer, 12 November 1859, p.6.

(33)The Advertiser, 14 December 1859, p.3.

(34)The Advertiser, 2 November 1859, p.1.

(35)Cover of Penman & Galbraith’s edition of The Song of Australia, 1859.

(36)Measuring worth,, accessed 8 August 2011.

(37)The Advertiser, 14 December 1859, p.3.

(38)Gawler Institute, Minutes, 3 January 1860.

(39)Gawler Institute, Minutes, 8 May 1860.

(40)Gawler Institute, Minutes, 2 November 1863.

(41)Letter from S Marshall, Adelaide to Gawler Institute Committee, 18 November 1874, Gawler Institute Archives.

(42)Memorandum from S Marshall to Gawler Institute, 1 March 1875, Gawler Institute Archives.

(43)Gawler Institute, Minutes, 4 November 1877.

(44)Ronald A V Wallace, Our great patriotic song, The ‘Song of Australia’, with information on Caroline J. Carleton (who wrote the words) and Carl August Ferdinand Linger (who composed the music), Carl Linger Memorial Committee Inc., Adelaide, 1999, p.10.

(45)Wallace, p.10.

(46)Music Australia,, accessed 13 May 2009.

(48)Wallace, p.8.

(49 Wallace, p.9.

(50)State Records of South Australia,, accessed 8 May 2009.

(51)Wallace, p.22.

(52)Gawler Institute, Minutes, 17 September 1867; 14 July 1887; 1899.

(53)Wallace, p.11.

(54)Wallace, p.12. and The “Song of Australia” Proclamation as National Song. Speech by Dr H Basedow MP. In the House of Assembly, Wednesday, 4 September 1929, p.3.

(55)Wallace, p.28.

(56)Wallace, p.65.

(57)Rae Webling, “A Song of Australia”: Caroline Carleton, her poems and biography 1820-1874, R.Webling, Kadina, 1977, p.3.

(58)Webling, p.1.

(59)Robert Nicol, At the End of the Road: government, society and the disposal of human remains in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Allen & Unwin, Adelaide, 1994, p.46.

(60)Webling, p.2.

(61)The Register, 6 August 1852, p.2.

(62)Nicol, p.46.

(63)Nicol, p.50.

(64)Nicol, pp.50-51.

(65)Nicol, p.52.

(66)Nicol, p.52.

(67)Nicol, p.52

(68)Webling, p.2.

(69)The Advertiser, 10 November 1859, p.1.

(70)George E Loyau, Notable South Australians; or, Colonists - past and present, G E Loyau, Adelaide, 1885, p.193.

(71)Australian Dictionary of Biography-online edition,, accessed March 17, 2009.

(72)H Aderholdt, ‘Carl Linger writes to his mother how a migrant fared a century ago’, in Our South Australian Past [articles], Book II, p.39.

(73)Aderholdt, p.40.

(74)Australian Dictionary of Biography-online edition.

(75)Aderholdt, p.40.

(76)Aderholdt, p.40.

(77)Aderholdt, p.40.

(78)Aderholdt, p.40.

(79)Aderholdt, p.40.

(80)Aderholdt, p.40-1.

(81)Aderholdt, p.41.

(82)Aderholdt, p.41.

(83)Australian Dictionary of Biography-online edition.

(84)Loyau, p.194.

(85)Wallace, p.90.

(86)Loyau, p.194.

(87)Australian Dictionary of Biography-online edition.

(88)Wallace, pp.91-98.

(89)Wallace, p.98.

(90)South Australian Births, Index of Registrations, 1842-1906, South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society, Adelaide, 2000, p.1762.

(91)The Observer, 22 February 1862, p.7.

(92)The Observer, 22 February 1862, p.7.

(94)Wallace, pp.111-12.

Related Articles

External Links

Carl Linger - writer of the music score for "The Song of Australia"
Carl Linger - writer of the music score for "The Song of Australia"
Caroline Carleton who wrote the lyrics for "The Song of Australia", date of portrait and artist unknown.
Caroline Carleton who wrote the lyrics for "The Song of Australia", date of portrait and artist unknown.
Oddfellows Hall, Murray Street, Gawler, c1902
Oddfellows Hall, Murray Street, Gawler, c1902
The cover of "The Song of Australia".
The cover of "The Song of Australia".





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