Evan Mathieson header

The ‘W. D. ATLAS

Lyrics and Music: Harry Robertson
Arranged by Evan Mathieson

The ‘Atlas’ was a dredge that sailed from Whyalla town,
And set a course for Sydney, with its hatches battened down.
It sailed into a cyclone out on Jervis Bay
The waves they tossed, the ship was lost, that 20th of May.

Dark and stormy was the night, and the sea was cold.
Did the cargo start to shift, in her rusty hold?

A seaman to his Mother wrote, and in the letter said,
“This ship is like a coffin, Mum, there’s a dirty trip ahead,
And while we need the money, my mind is filled with doubt,
But the clearance papers are aboard and we are shipping out.”


Since the ‘Atlas’ made that trip, enquiries have been made.
Were the men who manned her seamen to their trade?
Did her doors and hatches fit ’til they were watertight?
Was the ‘Atlas’ overloaded? Was her engine room alright?


Was her steering faulty before that fateful night?
Did water stop the boiler fires from burning clear and bright?
Did heavy bucket tumblers roll the decks beneath the waves
’Fore the ‘Atlas’ sank and carried thirteen seamen to their graves?


Who will ask the questions? Who will tell the lies?
How many seamen will be drowned before we realise
That a dredge that’s built for river use, should not be sent to sea
‘Til she’s put in first class order, with a safety guarantee?


© Harry Robertson, and subsequently ©1995 Mrs Rita Robertson, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
Registered with APRA/AMCOS www.apra-amcos.com.au