– An Australian Song Cycle –

Words and Music: Lorraine Milne


“Spotlighting the experiences and achievements
of ordinary and extraordinary Australian women
in historical and contemporary settings”

CDs and Scores available

In a 1930s film of The Threepenny Opera, when Mack the Knife has to leave town in a hurry, he gathers his gang and says: “Boys, while I’m away, Pollie’s in charge.” One quips back:

“But boss, she’s not the right man for the job!”

What a line! It became the genesis of Maiden Voyage – and A Woman Is Not the Right Man, the first song to be written, eventually became the ninth song in the cycle.

The focus then shifted to spotlighting the experiences and achievements of ordinary and extraordinary Australian women in historical and contemporary settings.

The stories woven through Maiden Voyage embrace convict ships and prostitutes, free settlers, currency born, the fight for female suffrage, English migration between the two world wars, survival in the outback, the cultural drain, the Vietnam war, GDP and what is valued and finally a celebration of the legacy of these extraordinary women, many of whom were not recognised for their achievements in their lifetimes.

On March 22, 2015, Maiden Voyage was launched at University College (Parkville, Melbourne) with Associate Professor Neryl Jeanneret overseeing proceedings and special guest speaker Dr Anne Summers, AO.

What a rich and diverse history of Australian women has been captured in this music. And it’s a song cycle, unified by its music and text. It’s accessible and real…”

(Associate Professor Neryl Jeanneret, Melbourne University Graduate School of Education)

“…There is so much of Australian history and wealth that arose directly from the efforts of women who were not given credit for what they did so it is very much a part of our story and I’m very glad it’s recognized in this work…
One of the bitter lessons that we have learnt from politics – the same thing applies to history – is that just because we have uncovered something, just because we have reinterpreted it, or just because we have told the story more fully, that it’s going to survive. But it doesn’t survive unless we carry it on, and we carry it on through literature, through films, through music…and I would like to thank Lorraine Milne very, very much for this wonderful piece of work
.” (Dr Anne Summers AO)
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Shifting South


Molten red explosion,
Wrenching crust, upward thrust,
Wind and fire collusion,
Heaving earth giving birth.

Damned Once


What cost the price of this woman damned?
Then damned again,
At the mercy of convicted men

Quiet Courage

Listen to a story of courage and strength,
Of women in a distant and hostile land.

Thank 'em for Aussie Wine

Get off your arse and plant the vine,
You must decline from drinking the wine,
Get off your arse and plant the vine,
It’s time!

Oh Louisa

Oh Louisa, Mrs Lawson, what a story to tell.
She empowered, she inspired,
She enlightened, she awakened,
Australian women everywhere….
Come out of your shell.

A Woman in the House

She wouldn’t understand the workings of debate,
Or issues of the colony or how to legislate.
And if we give her equal rights, I’ll give it to you straight,
We’ll end up with a woman in the House.

Australian Air

She left the cities for the outback wild and vast,
Tried hard to put behind her European past.

A Matter of Survival

Woman, woman, lonely woman.
Sun in her eyes, dust in her hair,
Nothing for miles, nothing out there.
Not knowing friend or rival,
A matter of survival.

A Woman is not the Right Man

A woman is not the right man for the job,
She hasn’t got the know-how to make it.

Who Cares!

When will her music hit the stage?
When her time…come of age?
When will the orchestra turn the page?

Birthday Ballot

Australian boy went off to fight
Somebody else’s war.
With aching heart she asked herself,
“What are we fighting for?”

No Value

They give no value to peace,
They place no value on giving birth,
No value given to hope,
They place no value on unpaid work.

In the End

Come, celebrate,
We are stronger for her giving,
We are better for her living.