To the north of Geraldton town lies Smuggler’s Cove and Rum Jungle, infamous landmarks where ocean trade of contraband liquor, tobacco and sandalwood took place out of sight of the local constabulary. Today, a group of local shanty singers keep the name Rum Jungle alive by singing songs of the sea – from crusty traditionals to trusty originals. Sometimes we dress up as pirates, not exactly a sea shanty tradition but hey, even pirates sang a few shanties whilst they pillaged.

Rum Jungle combine work songs of the high seas with self-penned originals telling stories of the highs and lows of local maritime trade. Every song has a story, most often involving operation of a large sailing vessel whilst fixating on the lousy remuneration, unsafe workplace conditions and, naturally, the hedonistic pleasures that await at the next port. Come along to hear some.

Many shanties are working songs of the sea with different rhythms for different tasks. Others tell tales of great deeds or of tragic mishaps. Yet others are just about how lousy it is to be a sailor. One thing they all have in common is a simple call-and-response element, which means that, with a quick demonstration, anyone can sing along. Come and give it a try.