Similar to 'The skipper's dream' this song takes the form of a dream sequence. The song was written shortly after the discovery of gold in Victoria, Australia (Asstrilly) in 1854, which brought a rush of emigration to what had previously been an unpopular destination. Generally, it was single men who made the hazardous journey via ship to Australia, lured by the promise of gold. On Tyneside a number of men chose to leave their native shores, most likely in the face of unemployment, or gruelling industrial labour with long hours and low pay. This is one of a number of songs about the Australian gold rush.
The song forms part of a selection of broadside songs by Edward Corvan and other Tyneside composers held at South Shields Library. The collection dates to the mid 19th century and consists of some of the region's most popular songs. Although the volume does include material by J.P. Robson and others, the majority of the songs are by Corvan. This is one of the largest collections of Corvan broadsides in the region and is a testament to the composer's popularity.
Edward Corvan, or as he was famously known, Ned was born in Liverpool and moved to Newcastle at the age of four. Following the death of his father at an early age, Corvan was raised by his widowed mother who struggled to feed the family of four on her meagre earnings. After a brief career as a sail-maker Corvan joined Billy Purvis's Victoria Theatre. Here he tried his hand at a number of things, but found most success in the performance of local and comic songs. Ned then went on to join the Olympic were he enjoyed great success with songs such as 'Astrilly'. With this popularity he travelled the North singing his Tyneside songs, eventually settling in South Shields where he operated Corvan's Music Hall. After a number of years he gave up the establishment and returned to local singing. Corvan died on the 31st August 1865 at the age of 35.