- Making Connections in Folklore -


Australian Folklore Network


April 2010


Published for the AFN by the Australian Folklore Research Unit

Curtin University of Technology

ISSN 1833-6930


This and previous editions also available online at

Folklore Australia



From the Convenor
Recent National Folklore Conference
Folklore at Australian Universities
Recent Books and Recordings
Characteristics of Australian Traditional Music



Welcome to the 31st issue of Transmissions. We have been publishing since 2002, keeping AFN members and subscribers up to date with publications, recordings, events etc relevant to Australian folklore in its many manifestations, past and present. We have also published reviews, articles and other items of lasting interest, all still available (thanks to Valda Low) in the archived back copies at

This 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, again took place for the sixth consecutive year at the National Library of Australia on Thursday April 1.
This year’s topics and speakers were:

Mr Vasilis’s Taksim - Peter Parkhill




The conference also featured a lunchtime concert on session music produced by Rob and Olya Willis. The conference will take place again in 2011. A call for papers will appear later this year.



Below are some options for studying folklore in Australia. Please let us know if there are any others.

Graduate Diploma in Australian Folklife Studies is available through Open Universities Australia and Curtin University.

The University of New England has a single unit that is offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels: ENCO 307/407 Australian Folklore and Australian Folk Speech. It is in Distance mode, and available in Semester 1.

Southern Cross University has no dedicated unit, but topics and approaches are incorporated into several of the teacher-education units — particularly play in the Early Childhood units, Australian Identity in the Social Studies curriculum units, and storytelling in an elective unit with that name. The last is available in Distance mode, in the Summer session, and is available to Miscellaneous students (i.e. from outside teacher-education courses).

Dr Ruth Lee Martin a Senior Lecturer at the School of Music, Australian National
University has been instrumental (along with Dr Stephen Wild) in developing the ANU's flourishing folk and traditional music stream. Her course 'Folk Music: Theory and Practice' run in conjunction with the National Folk Music Festival in Canberra is the first of its kind in Australia.

Robert Smith and Graham Seal


Anderson, H (ed) A Rebecca in Tasmania: The lamentations of David Davies, Welsh Convict, ‘In the Land of the Black Negro’, Red Rooster Press 2009. Study of ballads relating to the transportation of a participant in the Rebecca riots, includes original texts. $21.00 incl p&p.
Anderson, H., Paddy Collins: A Sydney Street Poet, Red Rooster Press, 2010. $26.00 plus p&p. The true identity of ‘Percy the Poet’.
These and many other Red Rooster titles on Australian folklore and history are available from 38 Canning St, North Melbourne VIC 3051. 03 9329 1248.
Warren Fahey has released CDs of his collected bawdry as SING US ANOTHERY, DIRTY AS BUGGERY, various artists. $24.95 and ROOTED IN THE COUNTRY, various artists, $24.95. For full track details, notes, cover art and purchase visit

Seal, G., Great Australian Stories: Legends, Yarns and Tall Tales. Allen & Unwin 2009.
Seal, G., Dog’s Eye and Dead Horse: Australian Rhyming Slang ABC Books 2009.

In the review of Cape Barren songman Ronnie Summers in our last edition, a number of observations about the characteristics of Australian traditional music and song were made, namely that it is:

Rob Willis adds a further characteristic, that is the presence of an influential individual who is the source and/or pivot of traditional music-making in  a given region, or a ‘hub’. This person, or persons, can influence and direct the repertoire, style and interpretation of an area's  'trad' music etc for several generations. The person/s in question are usually talented, charismatic or personable, willing to share their knowledge and repertoire and are 'looked up to' by other regional players. Examples are:

All of the above have very distinct local style and repertoire - ALL learnt in the aural/oral tradition!This still happens today within the communities you mention where there is  a 'dominant' performer

Any further thoughts?