The Roaring Forties is an archetypal trad-style acapella folk group singing maritime songs and other robust material concerning Australian social, industrial and political history; choruses, harmonies and wit abound, They also perform finely-crafted original material, some accompanied.

The original singers who formed the core of the Roaring Forties (Robin, Margaret and Tom) were singing unaccompanied songs when the New Age a-cappella group members were still in the cradle. Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s they used to gather whenever a call went out for a group of shanty singers, augmented by other available singers. They used the name “Sydney Shanty Singers” and then, for a time, they laboured under the moniker “The Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shantymen” (EFBSS) – an esoteric reference to the EFDSS (the English Folk Dance and Song Society). But in 1988, they thought it was time they had a more distinctive name – and so The Roaring Forties was born. It was the year of the bi-centenary with lots of tall ships visiting Sydney, and with lot of gigs on offer, they brought out their first CD, Hazard Hardship and Damned Little Pay.

That was 30 years ago, and the Forties have never lost their love of shanties, though from time to time, they have worked on other projects. See ABOUT for details.

Current members of the group:

Don BrianDon Brian: – a singer of traditional Australian songs, a one time member of the Tin Shed Rattlers when he lived in Wagga Wagga. Through his five years of self-imposed exile on Norfolk Island he remained a valued member. He has also been in a duo with Margaret Walters called Southern Cross Trawlers. Don wastes a lot of his time in libraries researching whaling and traditional songs and stories.Tom HansonTom Hanson – the group’s Basso Profundo, was the first to put the Roar in the ‘Forties. Tom is a great source of songs from his extensive travels and he’s had some real sailing experience on tall ships like the New Endeavour and the Duyfken.
Chris MaltbyChris Maltby – joined the group in 2008 and bought a fresh approach to old songs. He’s also impressed with a formidable ability to learn new material on the run and he tantalises with his knowledge of the repertoires of the likes of Peter Bellamy and Leon Rosselson. A passionate member of the Greens, Chris also sings with the environmental choir, Ecopella.Margaret WaltersMargaret Walters a warm, passionate voice, edged with iron, a huge solo repertoire, a presenter of workshops on convicts, peace, feisty damsels. In a duo with former member, John Warner, she performed and recorded. She has a following in England having performed there from the ’90s. Margaret frequently joins the online folk scene in the US and UK.
Jude AlexanderJude Alexander a lover of harmony, Jude was keen to join Forty Degrees South from the moment she landed in Sydney in January 2022. Jude grew up on the beach and loves both singing and boating, especially if you count kayaking as boating. She has previously sung with several choirs, including the Halleluia Joy Soul and Dance Company, the Sunbury Divas and the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir. She’s a current member of Ecopella.

Former members of the group include Tony Cochrane, Robin Connaughton, Brian Grayson, Len Neary, Jennifer Lees and John Warner.

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