Cyprus Brig

In his notes to the Gary Shearston recording of the song on his 1965 LP "Bolters, Bushrangers & Duffers" Edgar Waters writes:

In 1829, prisoners on board the Cyprus brig - which was on its way from Hobart Town to Macquarie Harbour (a penal settlement on the Tasmanian Coast) - seized the ship, put the crew and guards on shore, and sailed for China. Most of the fugitives came to a sad end in the long run. There is a poem about the event, called The Seizure of the Cypress Brig in Recherche Bay, and thought to be the work of the Irish convict known as Frank the Poet.

This song shares most of its lines with that poem - though no-one can tell whether the song or the poem came first - but it borrows its first verse and melody from some version of Van Diemen's Land, which was probably the most widely-sung of the many British street ballads about transportation.

Gary Shearston learnt the song from the singing of J.H. Davies of Hobart, who was eighty-eight years old when he recorded the song in 1961 for the historian Lloyd Robson (who is the author of The Convict Settlers of Australia, one of the most important books about the convicts).