The Longest Song Wiki

A song wrested from its grave by Australian folk musician Kate Burke in early 2000s, having found a recording of the song in the Australian Archives. This was originally collected by John Meredith in 1954. The author of the work remains unnamed.

The Wreck of the Dandenong commemorates the sinking of the steamship Dandenong in the autumn of 1876 during a storm near Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia.


The Dandenong left Melbourne with 53 passengers and a crew of 30, but encounter gale-force winds just off of Jervis Bay. In a public inquiry, the chief officer reported that the ship sustained heavy damage during the storm, including a shearing of their propeller shaft. Every attempt was made to stop the leak, including plugging it with blankets and bedding, but all hope was lost when the ship's stern settled low enough that the waters extinguished the boiler fires and the pumps failed.

The barque mentioned in the song was the Albert William, which saw the distress signal flown by the Dandenong and hove-to in order to try and aid in recovery efforts. Though they made valiant effort to ferry passengers and recover lifeboats cast by the Dandenong, many passengers were lost in transit. Recounting the arrival of the first lifeboat at the Barque, the chief officer of the Dandenong said:

"The sea was terrific but five adults and eight children succeeded in getting into the lifeboat...but on getting alongside the Albert William, the barque rolled so heavily she struck [the lifeboat] and split her in two, precipitating all aboard into the water." Of those aboard the first lifeboat, only four survived.

The Albert William was able to recover 28 passengers and 12 crew from the Dandenong, but there were no other survivors. Though boats were dispatched as quickly as possible from neighbouring ports to assist, by the time of their arrival the Dandenong had already sunk.

The captain, officers, and crew were found to have done all in their power to save the ship.


Oh wild and furious blew the blast,
And the clouds were hangin' round,
When the Dandenong from Melbourne sailed,
To Newcastle port was bound,
She had eighty three poor souls on board,
Through the storm she cleaved her way,
Well it's sad to relate her terrible fate,
Was just off Jervis bay,

And I dream of you, I dream of sleep,
and I dream of you, I dream of sleep,
I dream of bein' warm,
But through the night I have to sail,
all through the raging storm,

While steering through the briny waves,
A propelling shaft gave way,
And the waters they came crashing in,
Which filled us with dismay,
All hands on board did all they could,
'Til at length all hope was gone,
And they hoisted a signal of distress,
On board of the Dandenong,


It was not long until a barque,
Of a brisk and lively crew,
Came bearing down and the Captain cried,
"We'll see what we can do!"
Came bearing down with might and main,
In spite of land or wave,
They did all they could as sailors would,
Those precious lives to save.


Now some in boats they tried to reach,
That kind and friendly barque,
And numbers of their lives were saved,
But the night came on pitch dark,
What mortal man then could do more,
When the storm increased on strong,
And the rest now sleep in the briny deep,
Along with the Dandenong.

{Chorus til finish}