- Making Connections in Folklore -

ISSN 1833-6930

Australian Folklore Network
December-January  2008/2009


Published for the AFN by the Australian Folklore Research Unit
Curtin University of Technology

This and previous editions also available online at
Folklore Australia







Thanks to all those who sent in items for the latest Transmissions. In this edition we bring news of conferences publications, films, online discussion groups and networks and other useful items of interest.




National Australian Folklore Conference

An annual conference facilitated by the Australian Folklore Network, the National Library of Australia, the National Folk Festival and the Centre for Advanced Studies in Australia, Asia and the Pacific, Curtin University.

National Library of Australia. 9-5pm Thursday April 9

Building on the success of the last four Australian National Folklore Conferences, the Australian Folklore Network, the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival will again host a one-day conference immediately before the National Folk Festival.

Papers will include:

Picking up the threads: exploring the depth and diversity of Australian women’s folk music in the collections of the National Library of Australia by Jenny Gall

Click Go the Shears: the making of an Australian icon by Keith McKenry

The discovery of Industrial Song and the evolving definition of Folk Song by Mark Gregory

Interpreting Australian Traditional Songs and Ballads for the 21st Century by Warren Fahey

Assembling a Sacred Soundscape: Choosing Repertoire for Torres Strait Islander Community CDs/DVDs by Karl Neuenfeldt

Lost in transportation. How didjeridu in its contemporary uses of has gained spiritual meanings not evident in traditional Aboriginal lore by Charlie McMahon

Australian Children’s traditions by Nikki Henningham and friends.

There will be a concert of traditional music at lunchtime in the NLA foyer. ‘With One Voice: Songs, Stories and Poetry of Women’.

If you would like to attend the conference (registration is free of charge) please email the conference convenor g.seal@curtin.edu.au




The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife (founded 1976) is pleased to announce the subject of its next annual conference, WATERWAYS AND BYWAYS, 1600-1890, to be held in June 2009.

The Seminar is accepting proposals for papers and presentations on the subject of early transportation networks operating within New England and contiguous portions of New York and Canada before 1890. Based on the premise that New England’s everyday economy, much like its culture, depended on regional interconnectivity, this conference attempts to examine the physical, professional, and cultural networks that facilitated and encouraged this movement. Specifically, the conference seeks proposals on river and canal life, on tavern circuits, and on the rise of overland stagecoach routes. The conference also seeks papers on packet boats and coaster trades; the evolution of an inland shipbuilding legacy; the introduction of locks to major rivers; and the growth of commercial turnpikes, steamboats, and early railways. Planners also look for papers on traditional native ferrying points and fords, on bridge and road builders, as well as on entrepreneurs—such as peddlers, entertainers, civil engineers, coach and carriage makers, and travel diarists—who provided or made use of this connectivity.

The Seminar welcomes proposals from authors, academic and museum scholars working in the public humanities, graduate students, teachers, and the general public. Preference will be given to papers based on primary sources such as account books, diaries, reminiscences, personal and business papers, newspapers and artifacts as well as topographic and toponymic data.

To request further information regarding this conference or to submit a paper proposal, please visit our website: http://www.bu.edu/dublinseminar/CallForPapers09a.html

Peter Benes, Director
The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Boston University Scholarly Publications
985 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston MA 02215
(email: dublsem@bu.edu)
(Phone: 978/369-7382)



The Rams Skull Press is publishing Keith McKenry's Australia's Lost Folk Songs:  The Treasures that slipped through Percy Jones' fingers

This unique songbook draws from a well so much part of Australia’s everyday landscape it was overlooked by our early folk song collectors.  These are not songs about shearing, goldfields or bushrangers but rather they are songs actually sung by shearers, gold-miners and, in all probability, the likes of Ned Kelly and Ben Hall. 

There are songs here about love and betrayal, family life, the volunteer rifle brigades established during the Crimean War to repel the feared Russian invasion of Melbourne, and of brave Aussie boys going off to fight mother England’s wars.  There’s Sweet Mary of Kilmore, Miss Hooligan’s Christmas Cake and Mrs McSorley’s Twins, a song of the Blessed Zulu War, one of a wife gone off to be a Mormonite, and another referred to by Rudyard Kipling, for which scholars have searched in vain for over 100 years.  They’re all here, reconstructed from fragments published in the Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial in 1940, drawn from the memories of the paper’s readers.  These are Australia’s lost folk songs and it is time they were heard.

The result of years of research, the book details the history of each song and is fully referenced, with words, music and guitar chords.  With illustrations by the late Ron Edwards, it is a handsome production. 

The recommended retail price of Australia’s Lost Folk Songs is $25, including GST.  It is available direct from the Rams Skull Press for $27.50 including packaging and postage within Australia (Visa and Mastercard accepted), or from all quality booksellers.

      The Rams Skull Press
      12 Fairyland Rd, Kuranda Qld 4881
      Ph. 07-4093 7474  Fax 07-4051 4484
      Email:  ramskull@tpg.com.au
      Web:  www.ramsskullpress.com


Tales From New England: A collection of traditional stories from the New England region of NSW by J S Ryan ISBN: 978-0-949557-22-3

A discussion of New England-related historical and literary fictions. Available from Heritage Futures Research Centre, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351. $29.95. Cheques to Heritage Futures Research Centre, University of New England or contact David Roberts on drobert9@une.edu.au

A selection of titles from New Zealand:

Diggers, Hatters & Whores: The New Zealand Gold Rushes by Stevan Eldred-Grigg. Random House.

This has some stunning illustrations, including what seems to be the first photograph that's come to light of the goldfield balladeer Joe Small ('The Unfortunate Man'), who was second only in reputation to the inimitable Charles Thatcher.

The Tex Morton Songbook by Gordon Spittle. http://www.gws.co.nz/enquiries.htm

A distant feast : the origins of New Zealand’s cuisine / Tony Simpson. Auckland, N.Z. Godwit, 2008 [1999]. 279 pages.

Ladies, a plate : traditional home baking / Alexa Johnston.
Auckland, N.Z. : Penguin, 2008. 175 pages.

"A New Zealand Christmas: Three Centuries of Kiwi Christmas Celebrations from the Alexander Turnbull Library". Sarah Ell, 2008,Random House.

John Griffiths, 2008, 'Popular Culture and Modernity: Dancing in New Zealand Society 1920-1945' in Journal of Social History, vol.41 no.3:

Emma Dewson, 2004, '“Off to the Dance” – Romance in Rural New Zealand Communities, 1880s-1920s' in History Australia, vol.2 no.1

Georgina White, 2007, Light Fantastic – Dance Floor Courtship in New Zealand. Auckland: Harper Collins



Playing for Change <http://www.playingforchange.com/pop.html>

The basic message of this award winning film is to show the simple transformative power of music. It shows how music can bring people together across many cultures. How it can open doors that may not ordinarily be open. Its focus is on our connections within our divisions.

The film was 3 years in the making. In the clips below you will see an array of 100 some musicians playing in: Brazil, France, Israel, Nepal, India, Italy, Russian, Spain, Congo, Netherlands, and South Africa.

And from Folkstreams, the following online offerings, now using flash 500kbs. All at www.folkstreams.net

Banjo Spirits explores the legacy of the banjo through the eyes of Don Stover and Stephen Wade who assess the central role the banjo plays in their lives as a tool for creative expression. 1998 29 minutes                   

La Charreada: Rodeo a la Mexicana. Based on five seasons of ethnographic fieldwork centered in Sunol, California and extending to other parts of the United States and Mexico, La Charreada examines the significance of Mexican rodeo in the lives of Mexicanos living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border on both sides of the border. 1996. 26 minutes

Zydeco: Creole Music and Culture in Rural Louisiana. Nick Spitzer film on African American dance-hall music in French-speaking southwest Louisiana, with Dolon Carriere, Armand Ardoin, and Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin. 1986. 55 minutes
Prince Albert Hunt. An experimental film by Ken Harrison, Dallas filmmaker, in the use of Super 8 film for television production. The film is a study of a Terrell, Texas, blues singer/fiddler of the late 20's.1974. 29 minutes
Celebracion del Matrimonio. Margaret Hixon's portrait of a rural wedding in the American Hispanic community of El Rito, New Mexico.1986. 29 minutes

Medicine Fiddle. Fiddlers and dancers from Native and Metis families of the northern United States and Canada carry on the musical traditions passed down from early settlers. The film weaves tunes, dance, and oral history together to reveal an older and broader vision of America. 1991. 01 hour, 21 minutes



A bunch of interested individuals has recently set up a Yahoo group discussion list for those interested in street literature (broadsides, chapbooks, songsters, cheap prints, and so on) and we would be pleased if others interested in the topic would join us. The group is not solely concerned with song, but with all aspects of the trade. The list is called Pedlars_Pack: Broadside & Chapbook Research. To join, go to
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pedlars_Pack/ and click on the JOIN THIS GROUP button.



H-Folk has been created to foster better international communication among folklorists and to increase scholarly dialogue in the field. H-Folk encourages discussions of research, teaching, policy, and historiography in the fields of folklore and ethnology.  In addition, H-Folk welcomes news of major conferences, calls for papers, announcements of fellowship and research opportunities, and links to organization websites. H-Folk also supports the exchange of ideas and information with scholars on related H-Net networks.  Finally, H-Folk disseminates information about its six sponsoring organizations.  It is a network developed in conjunction with all these organizations, although it is open for all to join.

Like all H-Net lists, H-Folk is moderated to edit out material that, in the editors' opinion, is not germane to the list, involves technical matters (such as subscription management requests), is inflammatory, or violates evolving, yet common, standards of Internet etiquette.




English Folk Dance and Song Society: A Tribute to Bert (15 November
2008) at Cecil Sharp House

Read reviews on the Australian Folk Songs website from:

Caroline Clayton
Dave Arthur
Malcolm Taylor
Martyn Wyndham-Read
Frankie Armstrong
Kevin Bradley



A growing collection of Australian Railway songs, poems, music and anecdotes based on Brian Dunnett's decades of research is now reaching out via a specific blog based website at


The site is designed to make it easy to encourage and collect new material as well as hidden gems from other collections.

The Bush Music Club is preparing a working book of based on this material that can be used by bands and individuals for developing concerts and other performances on the theme of Australian Railways.