Wednesday, 17 June 2020

From the Archives - Aboriginal songs in Singabout


By the early 1950s American culture was taking over, so people across Australia started searching for the Australian culture they remembered from their childhoods, or knew about through their parents' or grandparents' memories. Some also searched for Aboriginal culture.

Between 1948 & 1951 John Meredith & Brian Loughlin located & drew Aboriginal rock carvings which led to an article in Walkabout in 1951. Merro's meticulous drawings are held by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.  (Keith McKenry's biography of John Meredith, pp.91-94)

photo - visit to Kuringai Chase looking for aboriginal carvings, Pam Loughlin, Merro, 2 unidentified women,1950s (supplied by Ron Nixon, Pam's nephew)

(1952) In an interview with folksinger Bobby Campbell, John Meredith recalled the local activities in his Sydney suburb of Heathcote: -
I was living in Heathcote and there was an organisation called  The Defence of Australian Culture which was aimed at saving Australian culture from the inroads being made by imported American crap. They hit on the idea of having Australian social evenings where everything on the program was Australian.

There would be poems read by Dorothy Hewitt and somebody would sing some Australian songs, Faith Bandler would sing some aboriginal or Torres Strait Island songs. Anyway we had one of these evenings down at Heathcote which was quite a success so we decided to do another one. For the second  one I suggested to Brian Loughlin that we get together and do two or three Australian songs. 
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!           John Meredith 


1959 -  Invitation.
At the Fellowship of Australian Writers Rooms
28 Clarence Street (behind Wynyard Station)
Saturday 22nd. August 8 P.M.
Admission 4/- Sherry will be served.
Arranged by the Bush Music Club.  
You are cordially invited to a talk by Roland Robinson on Aboriginal folk lore. Recently he has made tape recordings of the songs composed and sung by the detribalised and caste Aborigines of the N.S.W North Coast districts. These songs are an interesting fusion of Aboriginal, Negro, Calypso, Hill-Billy, and Ballad  influences.

Singabout 5(1), January 1963 - re Didjeridoo by Frederick T. Macartney

Singabout 5(1) Jan 1963, pp.4-5  Didjeridoo by Frederick T. Macartney

Singabout 5(1) Jan 1963, p.5  Didjeridoo by Frederick T. Macartney (cont)


Singabout  5(2), Oct 1964.  p.20
Aboriginal Song - collected by Barbara Gibbons from Mr & Mrs Harold Keans & their friends at the Aboriginal Settlement, Peak Hill N.S.W.
Dungenyul Song (dungenyul - methylated spirits)  Collected by Barbara Gibbons from Chris Woodland who learnt it from Aboriginal friends in Bourke, N..S.W.




































Singabout 5(4), December 1965 - Review of 
THE LAND WHERE THE CROW'S FLY BACKWARDS, Dougie Young sings songs from the Aborigines' Camp.  Wattle B5 - 7" 33 1/3 rpm. 10/6.  
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Singabout, 3(3), Winter/Spring 1959,  pp. 8-9. Aboriginal Songs by Roland Robinson - reprinted by kind permission from THE BULLETIN. 


Singabout 3(3), Winter/Spring 1959, p.9  Aboriginal Songs by Roland Robinson  (cont)

Roland Robinson at Lawson Pilgrimage 1966 (BMC Archives)
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