Friday 29 September 2017

Extracts from Bush Music Club Newsletter (1955-1977) - Lyrics to song collected in 1916 by Bill Frost

Click on pictures for full-screen image

Our archives contains 32 issues of our Newsletter from 1(1), October 1955 to January 1977's Newsletter and Calendar, after which it was continued by Mulga Wire, no.1 June 1977. The Newsletters are incomplete.

Newsletter, July 1969

Bill Frost was a poet & we have his 1970 book of poetry Bang Tail Muster in our library.

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Thursday 28 September 2017

Duke's Place - Australian Songs in concert & session with Margaret Walters, Friday 13th October, 2017, 7.30 for 8pm

  (Bob Bolton photo)

Margaret Walters is a long-term BMC member. She ran the popular Folk-us nights in the 80s & 90s.

Margaret Walters’ full-toned and expressive voice and her unaccompanied, traditional singing style are ideal for her repertoire of strong interesting songs – many from a woman’s perspective. Australian material, choruses, harmony and humour abound as shown on her CD "Steadfast".


(Mulga Wire, no. 72, April 1989, p.13)

Bush Music Club
Tritton Hall
Hut 44 Addison Road Centre
142 Addison Rd, Marrickville

Map of Addison Road Centre

Door opens 7.30 for 8pm start. Session 10.00-11.30pm
BYO songs
Cost - $10

Bring something to drink & a plate for supper

Enquiries - Sandra 9358 4886

Duke's place, named after our honoured early member Harold 'Duke' Tritton (1886-1965), is the place to go once a month for a great night of Australian songs in concert and session. Duke was a powerful singer who supplied BMC with many songs he had learnt in his younger days while working as a shearer and at other bush jobs. He was also a songwriter and poet giving us songs that have entered the tradition such as Sandy Hollow Line and Shearing in the Bar.


Wednesday 27 September 2017

BMC Anniversaries - 10th, 1964

Click on pictures for full-screen image 

from the Tenth Anniversary dinner menu

Thanks to Mark Gregory for locating the following article from the Canberra Times, Tuesday 6th October, 1964, page 13 in TROVE


Tenth Anniversary LP - (BMC Archives)
Singabout 5(2), October 1964

Reminiscence from Frank Maher - the 10th Anniversary cake was made with 10 tiers and collapsed from it's weight! (conversation 14th October 2017)
Extracts from our newsletter
May 1964, page 2

According to John Meredith's recollections & the 1954-55 minute book, the inaugural meeting was well attended, it was the second meeting that only had 3 attendees, John Meredith,
Tom Durst and Kenna Rushbrook.

July 1964, page 2

Singabout Songster,
No. 1 was originally planned for publication in 1964, but was delayed until May 1968
Extracts from Newsletter, September 1964, pages 1, 2, 3 & 5.

page 1

page 2 -

page 3

page 5

Menu from Jamie Carlin's collection

November 1964

(BMC Archives)

Singabout 5(2), October 1964, page 2.

(BMC Archives)
Singabout 5(3), July 1965, back cover

(BMC Archives)

Photos from the Currawong weekend - "P" series photos from Archives.

P20 -


Email from Ann Maher  -

Alan and Gay were there. Gay was not too happy. She needed to spend all her time with the baby and missed out on all the activities. Arthur Dearn and Marilyn Sommerville were there also.

It was a very happy weekend in a beautiful place. The ferry-only access from Palm Beach  really gave it character.
I  understand you could also come in those days by a difficult bushwalk. Brian took us for a bushwalk, I remember and we identified Aboriginal carvings along the track. He was multi talented. 
The access may be different nowadays, everything changes.

Pages 2, 3 & 4 from October 1964 Newsletter, scanned from Jamie Carlin's collection

(All photos & extracts have been taken from BMC Archives, except Canberra Times article)

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Saturday 16 September 2017

John Meredith - photos from the Peter Ellis Collection.

Click on pictures for full-screen image

Peter Ellis Collection, National Library Oral History collection

all quotes are taken from emails sent by Peter  

Merro at Yass, 1988 (Peter Ellis photo)

Merro & Peter Ellis at Harry McQueen's place, Castlemain, c1989  
(John Meredith photo)

Taken in Harry McQueen’s lounge in Castlemaine during an interview. Merro would have the original, it should be around, I rescued this from a local newspaper I think


Collecting trip to South Australia & Western Australia, 1991.
Merro took all pictures he had a timer on his camera on a tripod. (email from Peter 12/08/12)

First night our from Thirlemere on the WA trip - Merro & Peter at motel in Hay
with Peter's FJ Holden,1991 (John Meredith photo)

Merro & Peter on the Nullabor (John Meredith photo)

Merro & Peter on the Nullabor 1991 (John Meredith photo)

This is the famous one, he used a black and white of it in Real Folk and the National Library have that, but it was taken in colour. I drove a little way off the highway on a track towards some sand dunes (where the Great Australian Bite would have been) for effort.

Merro on the Nullabour
on the return from Perth, 1991  (Peter Ellis photo)
There’s one more I took on the main highway across the Nullabour, i.e. sealed rd. not the off road famous one. In this I’ve got Merro pointing out at the treeless nothing.

Kimba, Half Way across Australia (John Meredith photo)

This is at Kimba where we interviewed Ma Seal, the reason for our trip.  The postboard is advertising Kimbar on the Eyre Peninsula S.A. as half way across Australia between Sydney and Perth.

Cranbrook WA - Sept 1991

This one is at my father’s cousin’s Charles and Wyn Lilford place, now both deceased. Merro and I interviewed them for the National Library, details in the Merro article I sent you. The name of the farm is East Lynne, set up originally by my great uncle Frank Lilford, and it is at Cranbrook W.A.

Merro at the Bight, 1991 (Peter Ellis photo)
it says on the back (not my writing) John Meredith indicating the South Pole near the head of the Great Australian Bight. September 1991

John Meredith - photos from the Rob Willis collection

Click on pictures for full-screen image
Thanks to Rob for sharing his photos.

Rob accompanied John Meredith on collecting trips from 1983 until Merro retired in 1994. Rob is still collecting

Willis collection in National Library Oral History collection. 
The Rob Willis Collection is one of the largest oral history collections in Australia. He has recorded over 900 individuals in all states of Australia, as well as folk groups, singing groups, bands and choirs. To date, the collection totals 856 hours of playing time.  (
As the page is undated, the total will be greater today.)

Camping near Mt Hope NSW on a field trip with Rob (Rob Willis photo)

John at Gunnedah with a Stanley concertina with Chinese bellows grafted on which formerly belonged to Ken Bennett.  (Rob Willis photo)

Merro playing Pop Craythorne’s accordion
(Rob Willis photo)
Image taken in Holbrook Museum of John playing ‘Pop Craythorn’s Accordion’ similar to one that John played in early days.
Pop was a local musician who had a large impact on Merro’s music as he let him play the extras at dances and sit in with him when he was a kid.  Meredith played this accordion on numerous occasions at dances.
   (email from Rob Willis, 9/04/13)

Merro with the original Lagerphone made by his brother Claude  (Rob Willis photo)
Our tent on one of the early field trips, 1987 (Rob Willis photo)

Merro & Rob with their travelling accordions (Rob Willis photo using self-timer)
The two accordions that Merro and I are playing are our ‘travelling’ accordions that we took on many field trips.  Busilachio in the key of C.  Both were obtained from people we recorded – mine from Jack Smith of Forbes (grey) his (red) from Ollie Moore of Swan Hill. I still have mine with the original case and a Holbrook sticker pasted on it.  (email from Rob Willis, 9/04/13)

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The Bushwhackers, June 1952-1957, a photographic record.


It all started with the formation of The Heathcote Bushwhackers. In June 1953# (sic) a literary and musical evening held at Jack Barrie’s house at Heathcote was to have an “Australian Night” - something unique in those days when our own culture appeared in danger of being engulfed in the flood of second-rate canned American music. Jack, Brian Loughlin and I got together with button accordeon and two of our recent discoveries; a tea chest bass and a lagerphone.

We stuck on false whiskers, dressed rough and gave out with our entire repertoire; Click Go The Shears, Botany Bay and Nine Miles From Gundagai. In spite of my whiskers falling off, or maybe because of them, we were an immediate success - as a comedy act! Chris Kempster joined us after that performance and then Harry Kay. 

We were invited to perform our bracket of three numbers at a Tribune concert organised by the Australian Communist Party, at the Hurstville Rivoli Theatre. We were a sensation! The audience shouted, stamped and clapped for more and wouldn’t shut up. And we didn’t know any more. Eventually we went back and did Botany Bay again and invited them to join in on the choruses. 
The idea of a group playing traditional instruments and singing Australian songs, straight and not in choral arrangements, was novel and soon we could not cope with the engagements that came rolling in. The following year we supplied the songs and music for four or five historical radio features written for the ABC by Nancy Keesing. We were joined by Alan Scott, Cec Grivas and later by Alec Hood. One day Brian Loughlin told me that someone had suggested that we form some sort of a club and after many bright and not so bright ideas for a name we fixed on The Bush Music Club

Mulga Wire No. 17, February 1980, pp. 5-10, article by John Meredith

# note - June 1953 date above - other sources give 1952 for the formation of the Heathcote Bushwhackers - index to Keith McKenry's biography of John Meredith which was created using John Meredith's archives in the National Library, Chris Kempster's recollections, and Ballad of the Heathcote Bushwhackers. Jack's surname was Barrie, but both spellings are used in early sources.

See the newspaper clipping below from Jamie Carlin's collection referring to the celebration of the 2nd birthday of The Bushwhackers on 29th June 1955.
Earliest picture of The Bushwhacker's Band - 1954 May Day procession, Haymarket (outside Paddy's markets & Jamie Carlin was watching - Jamie, Sept 2020)

BMC was formed as part of the Australia-wide search for Australian traditional culture due to the increasing Americanisation of our culture.

Left to right -  ?, John Meredith, ?, Chris Kempster, Brian Loughlin, Jack Barrie
3 banners -
The Bushwhackers Band Reedy River
Oust Menzies and Yankee "culture" Support Australian Artists.
"Reedy River" is grouse.

Canberra Times, Monday 3rd May, p.1 (TROVE)

The Bushwhackers broke up sometime in 1957 and Concert Party was formed to be the performing arm of the Bush Music Club. Concert Party was ready for engagements by June.

1.  Newsletter, 3(1), June 1957 

2. Wattle - The Bushwhackers, Australian Bush Songs

2. Wattle - The Bushwhackers Australian Bush Songs - back

3.  Bushwhackers 2nd birthday -
29.6.55 (Jamie Carlin collection)

4.   The A.B.C Weekly, April 9, 1955

5.  Still from movie Three in One  taken from video shown by Keith McKenry at launch of More than a life - John Meredith and the Fight for Australian tradition.


6.  Brian Laughlin (lagerphone) Chris Kempster (guitar), Alan Scott (tin whistle), Alex Hood (bones), John Meredith (squeeze box), Jack Barrie (tea chest bass) Alex thinks it was a warm up at the Henry Lawson Statue, we couldn't see Harry Kay, maybe he was hidden. Alex thinks it was 1954 (not absolutely certain of the date. (email from Alex & Annette Hood)

7.  Ad for the new Bush Music Club, Tribune Wed 17/11/54 (TROVE) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

8. Reedy River, A.M. 1954

9.  Reedy River - Chris Kempster, Brian Loughlin, John Meredith, Jack Barrie

10. Reedy River - Chris Kempster, Jack Barrie, John Meredith, Brian Loughlin, Chris Kempster

11. Bushwhackers on a visit to Lithgow, photo taken by John Meredith who does not appear in the photo (Dec 1954)

12.  Alan Scott, Chris Kempster, John Meredith, Jack Barrie, Harry Kay, Cecil Grivas, Alex Hood (photo 001 in the "P" series, BMC Archives)

13. Mulga Wire no. 60, April 1987, p. S2

14.  Concert at Sydney Cricket Ground for Far West Scheme or Smith Family (sources differ), entertaining
5000 kids - without amplification.

left to right, Jack Barrie's arm, John Meredith (accordion), Alex Hood (bones), Chris Kempster (guitar), Alan Scott (nose flute), Harry Kay (mouth organ), Brian Loughlin (lagerphone)    (BMC Archives)

15.  Dame Mary Gilmore with the cast of the 1955 revival of Reedy River on her 90th Birthday (BMC Archives)

16.  Mulga Wire no.60, April 1987, alas the newspaper clipping referred to has not survived.
In March, 1955, New Theatre revived Reedy River for two weekends ...  Jamie Carlin - The First Ten Years originally published in Singabout Vol 5, No 2, October 1964, pages 12-14.
email from Bob Bolton, 17/9/13  ... and she received some gifts ... and a birthday cake ... in the Manager's Suite of the Rural Bank Building, Martin Place. The Bushwhackers Band are all togged up in their well stage-worn Reedy River costumes ... Merro always reckoned that Mary Gilmore said that their costume was so right that she could even smell the shearing shed ... Merro just reckoned she could small the stage costumes!!!

17.  Bushwhackers at Henry Lawson Concert, Como September 1955, (Supplied by Warren Fahey, unknown source)

18. Australian Folklore Festival - 3rd September 1955 (BMC Archives)

19.  Stringybark & Greenhide, 6(1), pp.1-2, no date but probably 1986 (publication dates from NLA catalogue entry)  (includes typo in par 2 - Bushwackers instead of  Bushwhackers) 


20.  Visit to Lawson's birthplace, September 1956. (BMC Archives)  
Singabut 1(4), Spring 1956 has a report of the visit. Brian Loughlin (lagerphone), Harry Kay (harmonica), Cec Grievas (bones, behind Harry), Alan Scott (whistle), John Meredith (accordion), Jack Barrie (bush bass), Chris Kempster (guitar)

21. Undated clipping supplied by Ron Nixon, Brian's nephew, which uses the 1956 photo (Nov 2020)


22.  Mulga Wire no. 22, Dec 1980

23.  Cover picture details
All photos, BMC Archives