Saturday 23 April 2016

Early Bush bands - The Billabong Band, Melbourne, 1955.

Click on pictures for full-screen image

The first bush band was The Heathcote Bushwhackers which was founded in June 1952, became The Bushwhackers sometime in 1953, and achieved widespread fame from late 1953 when they appeared in the Sydney production of Reedy River.  In October 1954 The Bushwhackers founded the Bush Music Club.

Lola Troy's South Coast Bush Band was formed with the assistance of Chris Kempster & the Bushwhackers in early 1954 after Lola saw Reedy River, and mentioned in the first issue of Singabout in January 1956.

The Minutes from October 1954 to March 1955 lists  The early Bush Bands October 1954 to March 1955  There were at least 8 other bands formed between The Bushwhackers & The Billabong Band.

Named bands -
Overlanders (Leichhardt, formed by 28th October)
Ringers (Arncliff)
Spraggers (Lithgow)
Un-named bands -
Lithgow (2nd band, named elsewhere as the Wombat band with a live wombat as mascot),
Junior Eureka League (St George)
North Sydney
Portland (near Lithgow)
Groups hoping to start a band -
Sutherland (Mirrabooka Youth Group)
Kings Cross

The Billabong Band's formation was also announced in the first issue of Singabout, 1(1), January 1956.

In 1959 members of the Billabong Band formed the Victorian Bush Music Club, later re-named Victorian Folk Music Club, & a brief history of the band is on the VFMC website.

Singabout 3(1), Summer 1958, page 9

A picture of the Billabongs appeared on the cover of Singabout, Volume 3(4), c.1960.

Singabout 3(4), page 16


Thanks to Joanna Durst, Joy's eldest daughter who supplied the following two photographs.

Caption on the back of the picture used on Singabout 3(4) cover -
Left to right - Beryl Hill (Lagerphone), Frank Nicholls seated, Keith Watson (squeezebox), Stella Lees, Jim Mills (banjo), Joy Durst

Billabong Band, n.d.


First published in 1970, this fine collection of Australian songs was dedicated to the memory of one of the founders of the original Billabongs, Joy Durst. The book covers a wide range, with lyrics and music (including guitar chords) for 100 songs. Many of the songs are well-known standards (including Waltzing Matilda, Click Go the Shears etc), but there are enough new songs to make it a worthwhile addition to any collection (eg Bryant's Ranges, It's On!, Goondiwindi Song etc). The 1980 edition (currently in stock) includes additional verses and revised music for some tunes. 113 pages - spiral-bound so it can be opened out flat.


The Billabong Band today
on youtube


VFMC at  NFF16

VFMC's Steve Bullock with Joanna Durst

(NFF16 photos - Sandra Nixon)

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Wednesday 20 April 2016

Report on BMC & some members gigs @ 2016 National Folk Festival

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BMC & some members gigs @ 2016 National Folk Festival, with apologies for any members whose gigs were omitted.

Concert Party, Waltz-a-thon, part 2


Ann Young & Allen Davis waltzing

Left to right - back row - Frank Maher, Chris Poleson, Rick Hull, Ralph Pride, banner, Allen Davis, Bill Montgomery, Terry Pybus, Bob Foggin

second row - Sharyn Mattern,  Mariamma Mitchell, Darri Adamson, Doug Richardson, Gail Copley, Moira Cowie, Ann Maher
3rd row - Karen Fong, Emily.
front - Nancy Nichols, Koen Andrews, Brian Gutkin, Dave Johnson, Eric Eisler.
Concert Party - Reedy River

Ralph Pride, Emily, Mariamma Mitchell, Chris Poleson. Rick Hull

In the early days, The Ballad of 1891 was always sung standing & finished with a salute To The Men of 91.

Frank & Ann Maher, members of concert party since the 60s, with their 50+ year old lagerphone

Chris Woodland

George Bolliger & Kerry Doherty

Helen & Tony Romeo, & Karen Fong with former member Pauline Cambourne

Koen Andrews
Blog article - 
Saplings sessions & concert

blog article - Dedication of Dengate Crescent

On Thursday 24th March a group of John's friends gathered at the corner of Slim Dusty Circuit & Dengate Crescent in the new section of Moncrieff to (in)formally dedicate the street.

 photo - Sharyn Mattern
Dave Johnson & Festival Bush Orchestra

Dennis O'Keeffe Memorial Australian Songs Session with Dennis & Mem Taberner & Chris Woodland & a cast of thousands

Dennis with banjo

Dennis, Ray, Mem

Chris Woodland on harmonica - Don Brian on whistle, Ann & Frank Maher in front row

members Chris Poleson, Tony Romeo & Kathie McMahon.
Chloe & Jason Roweth CD launch Light another fire - the spirit of Henry Lawson and John Dengate form the backbone of this album ...

Dale Dengate launching the album

Roaring Forties

members - Chris Maltby, Margaret Walters, Don Brian
Community Hymn Singing with Roger Holmes & his Beautiful Assistants, Anne, Jennifer & Sandra

Ann, Sandra, Roger, Chris Maltby


Colin Fong leading a hymn
Anthony & Lisa Simon - Scottish Ball

photos supplied by Anthony


Australian Colonial & Folk Dancers
photo & video supplied by Anthony Simon

Video by David Hunter

Colonial Ball

Adrienne (maroon dress) & Bill Unger

A few other events of interest.
Victorian Folk Music Club  - Joy Durst Memorial Songbook.

Steve Bullock, VFMC with Joy's daughter Joanna

Joy was an early member of Sydney's BMC, a founder member of Melbourne's first bush band, The Billabong Band in 1955, & in 1959 was influential in founding Melbourne's Bush Music Club, later re-named Victorian Folk Music Club.

50th National Folk Festival celebrations -
Phyl Lobl's recreation of the 1967 Songwriter's Concert 

Phyl Lobl's recreation of the 1967 Songwriter's Concert - Margret RoadKnight, Enda Kenny, Paul Spencer, Evan Mathieson, Shayna Karlin, Bruce McNichol, Phyl Lobl
Wasn't that a time - Margret RoadKnight, Shayna Karlin, Maureen Cummusky, Phyl Lobl

Roger Holmes & Dale Dengate dancing, Jeannie Lewis watching

Roger & Dale + Margret & Shayna

Founders Concert

Mae Trio &The Raglins, Duncan Brown, Margret RoadKnight, unknown, Danny Spooner, unknown, Phyl Lobl


Concertina Convergence


A collective noun of double bass


Canberra sunset

photos - Sandra Nixon unless elsewhere indicated

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