ISSUE 16 - APRIL 2005

- Making Connections in Folklore -
Australian Folklore Network
Australian Folklore Research Unit
Curtin University of Technology








This issue of Transmissions has been held over a little past its due date to allow us to include details of the Folklore Collections conference and related activities at this year's National Folk Festival.

In Transmissions 12 (March 2004) we published an article titled 'Who owns Folklore?' This was republished in Simply Australia, where a response by Cathie Clement was recently published. With the permission of Simply Australia, we now bring it to AFN members for consideration and comment. We also include the third and final instalment of an edited version of Gwenda Beed Davey's Moe Folklife Project report, an important study of regional Victorian folklife. Both these articles have relevance to regional folklore and folklife.

This time we publish two reports of AFN activities, one on the recent collections conference in conjunction with the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival, and another on the WA Folklife project carried out late in 2004.

The usual snippets of news, contacts and links are also provided.

Please send any contributions for Transmissions to:

Graham Seal




The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is proud to announce the launch of our highly anticipated web site, Smithsonian Global Sound .

Smithsonian Global Sound offers digital downloads of music and sound from around the world at a reasonable price. The site has a wealth of educational content and downloads are accompanied by extensive liner notes. Our goal is to encourage local musicians and traditions around the planet through international recognition, the payment of royalties, and support for regional archives.

The first track we sold was "Tarab" by Famau, Harambee Music Club from the album Music of the Waswahili of Lamu, Kenya, Vol. 3: Secular Music--an eight and a half minute track of drum, harmonium, and bongo. Some lucky person is walking around right now jamming to that track on their iPod while reading the liner notes and benefitting the musicians of Lamu. This is what Smithsonian Global Sound is all about! We hope you share our excitement and will support the site.

Please forward this announcement to anyone and everyone you know, especially to those who would be interested in our subscriptions for educational institutions.

Richard Kurin


The easiest way to listen to Radio LabourStart is to download iTunes, and then hit Ctrl + U (or select Stream under the Advanced menu), and type in

You can download iTunes from
(fear not you Windows mob, iTunes is completely cross platform although you will need Win 2000 or later).

As the streaming sound uses a lot of bandwidth you're better off using broadband rather than a modem.

Mark Gregory - music editor for



Graham Seal's anthology of wartime song, verse and story – Echoes of Anzac - was published by Lothian Books in April. It contains a good deal of folklore from Gallipoli to Vietnam, home front as well as active service.


This material is an update of “The Australian Railway Story” project

This year is the 150 th Anniversary of Steam railways in NSW. This event has provided a range of people with an interest in the folklore of Australian Railways with an opportunity that only comes around once every so often

At the centre of the current interest in the folklore of Australian railways has been the plans to establish a Railway social history and cultural Museum at Werris Creek. The first stage of this will open in October this year. (see details)

Preceding this opening and the associated festival will be the National Railway Heritage conference (details )

Several sessions at this conference will be devoted to the songs poems and stories of Australian Railways. The conference, in conjunction with the Werris Creek Railway Social History and Cultural Museum and the New England University Heritage Futures Research Centre, aims to establish an ongoing program to preserve the many aspects of Australian Railway Culture in danger of being lost.

The songs poems stories of Australian railways will live on through the festivals and other activities that are being planned, including the possible publishing of the Australian Railway Story.

Brian Dunnett.



Making available American scholar Dorothy Howard's groundbreaking 1950s research on Australian children's folklore, together with additional materials by June Factor, Brian-Sutton-Smith and Kate Darian-Smith. Edited by Kate Darian-Smith and June Factor. Published by Museum Victoria (ISBN 0 9577471 7 9), RRP $24.95pb. Available from 10% discount if ordered before May 15.




Project background

Olya and Rob Willis visited WA for this fieldwork project, a collaboration between the National Library of Australia, the Australian Folklore Research Unit and the Australian Folklore Network. Some collection has been carried out in WA previously by John Meredith, Peter Ellis, Bob Rummery, Graham Seal and a number of others, including students in folklore units at Curtin University. However, this was the first sustained and focused collecting project, undertaken by professional and experienced fieldworkers with high quality audio and video recording equipment. The results of the project are an invaluable record of aspects of Western Australian folk life and lore among a variety of ethnic and cultural groups.

The 3000+ kilometre project was undertaken between October 7-27, 2004 with the majority of funding from the NLA and subsidiary funding for the transport component of the Broome/Derby leg from the Australian Regional Research Unit. Curtin provided project development and management, including contacts, transfers in Perth, hospitality and general support. The Director also participated in some of the interviews and recordings.

Copies of the recorded materials have been deposited in the WA Folklore Archive as well as the NLA Oral History and Folklore Collections.


Areas of recording :

Carbanup River
Walliston (Perth)
Mt Hawthorn (Perth)
Bateman (Perth)
City Beach (Perth)
Kiara (Perth)
Bassendean (Perth).

Research for potential future projects was also conducted in :


Recordings and Associated Documentation

Topics documented

As well as the Swiss and Ukrainian song, music and dance tradition, folklore and social history topics recorded include: The project was successful, both in terms of its reception by those interviewed and the quality and quantity of materials documented. In relation to song and music, the project highlighted the importance of 'cultural lag' as a factor in the retention of traditions among migrant communities when those same traditions have been almost lost in the homeland. Interviewee Suzanna Prushynsky's parents were Ukrainians who came to Australia as displaced persons in 1948 from camps in Germany. Suzanna was born in Australia in 1956 and in her interview noted:
 “A lot of their songs were actually forgotten over there (Ukraine) - but they were kept up here (Australia). And people would go over there - like my Dad when he went back to Ukraine to visit his family – they were just amazed at all the songs that he was singing. The people of his era, his brothers and sisters, they vaguely remembered them from their childhood and of course a lot of the younger people, their children, had never heard them before. And it's really us out here (in Australia) that are keeping all these traditions alive”.
An important counter-tradition regarding the Kimberley Aboriginal outlaw, Jandamarra, was also recorded, and for the first time, a selection of Aboriginal children's traditions from the area.
The fieldwork also revealed a number of potentially fruitful and largely undocumented area for further research, including the Broome pearling industry and its traditions, the whaling industry in Albany and a hitherto unknown strong social dance tradition in and around York.

Copies of the full report, including tape indexes, informant biographies and photographs are available in the NLA and the WA Folklore Archive, Curtin University.



In another productive partnership, the Australian Folklore Network, the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival staged a well-attended one-day national conference on March 24 and a collector's forum on March 27. These events, together with a number of other folklore-related presentations, were held in conjunction with the National Folk Festival over the Easter period.

The program included

Warren Fahey
'The More They Try To Keep Me Down the Better I Live in Sydney Town.' ('Sydney Town', Frank Hardy circa 1962).

Warren Fahey discussed his two-year program to survey the folklore and oral history of Sydney - from colonial days to nowadays. Commenced twelve months ago, his extensive collecting and research is yielding a treasure-trove of songs, ditties, verse, superstitions and associated lore from Australia's largest and brashest city.

Edgar Waters
Collecting what folklore?   

Serious folklore collecting in Australia half a century ago began with a few people looking for singers of "old bush songs". Interests broadened in the 1960s, and in the 1980s scholars began talking about folklife as well folklore. It may be time to reconsider the scope of folklore and implications of the use of the terms folklore and folklife.

Gwenda Beed Davey
Fish Trout, You're Out! Sound Recordings of Children's Folklore in the National Library of Australia: A pilot project in on-line guides to collections.

The survey of children's folklore recordings which Gwenda Davey conducted is being developed by the National Library as a model for on-line guides to collections in the Library. Dianne Dahlitz from NLA assisted with the presentation.

Robyn Holmes and Marie-Louise Ayres
MusicAustralia: Australia's Music, On-Line, In Time
This presentation showcasde the newly released service, MusicAustralia, brought to you by the National Library of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive and cultural organisations from around the nation. MusicAustralia will help you find, access and navigate a rich store of information on Australian music, musicians, organisations and services. It will assist discovery of the wealth of Australia's intangible musical heritage across a range of musical traditions, including folklore and vernacular music.

Mark Cranfield
'Going Public With Folklore'

Mark discussed the challenges and outcomes involved in strategically connecting archival collections with the broader community.

Jeff Corfield
 'Keep him my Heart' - returning music and pride to communities -a Top End tale 
Jeff related how an accidental collection opportunity helped revive an almost lost string band music tradition in Darwin. In the process he canvassed the special challenges and sensitivities of working with Darwin's multicultural community; the continuing importance of music to their identity and sense of place and the benefits of returning collected material to such communities, in the first instance.
June Factor
'If you've got a minute, tell me all you know': The accidental beginnings, surprising developments and happy(?) future of the Australian Children's Folklore Collection. OR Can a traditional institution cope with folklore?

Ron Edwards
Finding Where the Bodies Are Buried: Revising the 12 Volume Index of Australian Folksong.

This paper dicussed the revision of the Index to Australian Folksong, a long-running project that seeks to identify the sources for Australian traditional songs.

Jennifer Gall
The Work of Maryjean Officer

Drawing on research for her PhD in the Musicology Department of the School of Music, ANU, titled 'The Role of Women in the Transmission and Evolution of Australian Folk Music', Jennifer Gall discussed Maryjean Officer and her work with the Folk Lore Society of Victoria.

Graham Seal
The Controversial Australian Collection of A L Lloyd.

Based on research into A L Lloyd's extant papers and related American, Canadian and British commentary, this paper assessed the prominent English folklorist's subsequent reuses of the materials he collected in Australia, c. 1925-1934.

In accompanying activities, Chris Sullivan launched two CDs of his collected traditional music and Rob Willis produced and presented a lunchtime concert featuring Cape Barren music and dance traditions.

The Conference Organising Committee consisted of Mark Cranfield – NLA, Graham Seal - Curtin University (Chair), Keith McKenry – NFF and Rob Willis – AFN.

During the National Folk Festival that began immediately after the conference, folklore collectors and collections were the subject of a well attended and lively 90 minute session, complementing a number of workshops and related activities following this year's festival theme of 'folk collections'.


Australian Children's Folklore Collection, Museum Victoria
Beth Sowter
Bill Scott
Bill Wannan (dec.)
Bob Bolton
Brian Dunnett
Brian Shepherd
Brian Wilkins
Bruce Cameron
Bob Rummery
Bush Music Club
Campbell Irving
Chloe Roweth

Chris Kempster
Chris Woodland
Chris Wright
Christina Mimmocchi
Cliff Hanna
Colin McJannett
Dani Rocca
Danny Spooner
Dave Hults
David De Santi
David Mulhallen
David S Azzolina
Dawn Anderson
Dieter Bajzek
Folk Alliance Australia
Graham Seal
Gregan O'Leary
Gwenda Davey
Hugh Anderson
Ian Russell
Jan Orloff
Jason Roweth
Jenny Gall
J D A Widdowson
Jeff Corfield
Jim Low
John Harpley
John Low
John Marshall
J S Ryan
June Factor
June Nichols
Karl Neuenfeldt
Katie Andrews
Keith McKenry
Kel Watkins
Kevin Bradley
Les Montanjees
Luisa Del Giudice
Mark Cranfield
Mark Gregory
Mark Moravec
Martin Chatfield
Martin Goreing
Maureen Seal
Mike Martin    
Moya McFadzean
Museum of Childhood, Edith Cowan University
Noris Ioannou
Olya Willis 
Patrick Watt
Peter Ellis
Phillip Ashton
Philip Hayward
Phyl Lobl
Robert Smith
Rob Willis
Roger Hargraves 
Ron Brown
Ron Edwards
Ruth Hazleton
Sandra Nixon
Steve Bullock
Steve Gadd
Susan Faine
Terry Clinton
Tony Suttor
Top End Folk Club
Valda Low
Vic Orloff
Victorian Folklife Association
Warren Fahey
Wendy Corrick
Western Australian Folklore Archive



National Register of Folklore Collections
Folklore Australia - resource base
Australian Folklore Research Unit - Australia Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology
Simply Australia Online magazine of folklore and social history
National Library of Australia Oral History/Folklore Archive
Trad&Now - Australian Folk Music magazine
Play and Folklore- Australia's journal of children's folklore
Graduate Diploma in Australian Folklife
Moonlit road - traditional tales and associated lore.
Verandah Music: Roots of Australian Tradition A joint project between the AFN, Curtin University and the National Library of Australia.
Folklore Weather Forecasting - well worth a look. .
Weather Forecasting and Folklore

Graham Seal
Australian Folklore Research Unit
Australia Research Institute
Curtin University of Technology