Runaway Success

‘Now I can’t fly but I’m telling you, I can run the pants off a Kangaroo.’ These are the beloved lyrics of John Williamson’s song, Old Man Emu, featured here in an original Australian release of the song’s sheet music. John Williamson AM was born into a wheat farming family in 1945. In 1965 Williamson […]

Read More…

A Sisterhood of Song

Assortes yellowed pages with handwritten cursive and postcards with illustrations of flowers.

These scrapbooks were compiled by the Babaneek Ladies’ Choir (1950-1982) and are a reminder of their community work between 1950-1973 and 1979-1981. They trace the choir’s long performance history throughout the Lake Macquarie and Hunter Valley regions. The Babaneek Ladies’ Choir was motivated by the charitable intention of bringing joy and comfort through song, this […]

Read More…

The Beating Heart of the Marching Band

Silver, reflective top of a black drum with silver fittings.

Geoff Sidebottom is a professional musician who knows a thing or two about keeping the beat. ‘As a lead drummer I’d play a four-bar sequence and then second drum would come in and fatten it. Then he’d stop while I played a different pattern perhaps. And if you got a bit sick of playing a […]

Read More…

A Fancy Frame

Born and raised at Kangaroo Valley near Nowra, Elsie Campbell (1883-1962) was twenty-seven when she set her mind and hands to making this picture frame in 1910. She crafted it using a technique known as ornamental leather work, also considered a type of ‘fancy work’. Unlike her three older sisters who preferred to embroider floral […]

Read More…

Sweet-noted and Faultless in Tune

Before the invention of radio, television and social media, entertainment was home-made and to this end the piano was an essential piece of furniture in the home and community halls. This quite grand-looking Renardi piano was purchased in 1881 and was at the heart of entertainment in the household of Julius Herman (John) (1825-1914) and […]

Read More…

Pull Out All Stops

While seated at this harmonium on the cold, wintery day of 15 June 1910, Vera Tollis may have rubbed her hands together, then pulled out all the instruments’ stops (knobs) to make the grandest sound possible. She was waiting for the bride to appear at the door of St Egwin’s Church, Tenambit. Then, breaking the […]

Read More…

The Gift of Song

On a Monday night in 1950 a group of women gathered at Booloroo Uniting Church and sang from the heart. Based around Lake Macquarie (NSW, Australia), and adopting the Awabakal word for ‘mother’, they became known as the Babaneek Ladies’ Choir. This is a story of faith, friendship, and the gift of song. […]

Read More…

Dressed to Thrill

By the age of ten Rocky Cameron (1944-2016) was already an experienced performer. He had ‘cut his teeth’ on the greater-Sydney radio circuit – 2UW, 2KY, 2GB & 2KA – but even with those successes he still felt his nerves swell. Following the introduction of television to Australia, Rocky made it to the stage of […]

Read More…

Harry’s Crescendo

In the nineteenth century, among the traditions migrants brought to NSW was music. This included European band music and as many regional centres established town bands were formed. By the late nineteenth century the village of Eugowra, in the state’s central west, had  its own town band. Among its members was Harry Esperance who rose […]

Read More…