Australian Folklore Network
Australian Folklore Research Unit
Curtin University of Technology


The fourth edition of Transmissions includes news of AFN and related projects, some feedback on the possibility of a national folklore centre and some requests for information. The next step in this process is the preparation and distribution of a discussion/position paper which will form the bulk of the next Transmissions. So if readers have any further thoughts or comment they would like to place into the discussion please send them in. We also report the death of the noted American folklorist Alan Lomax.


The Verandah Music illustrated book and CD compilation of traditional musicians is well on the way. Over twenty collectors are involved to date and work has begun on assembling and editing text, photographs and sound bites. We also have a publisher.

We aim to make this publication as broadly representative as possible and have contributions from every state and in many styles and genres of traditional music. If you have collected from traditional performers and would like to be involved, contact either of the editors Rob Willis or Graham Seal

The National Register of Folklore Collections aims to bring together information on the whereabouts, contents and access to significant collections of Australian folklore, in public and private archives.

The first step has involved updating the survey published in the 1980s (!) in Australian Folk Resources (Australian Folk Trust). This phase is completed and we are now in phase 2, the bringing together of this information with that recently submitted through the AFN. Phase 3 is the publication of the full Register on the web for all to use.

The register will be maintained and updated as necessary through the AFN. If you have, or know of, any collections of Australian folklore and have not already contacted us, we would be happy to hear from you. Go to


In Transmissions 3 we asked for suggestions and comments regarding the possibility of a national folklore facility or centre. Here is some input from Brian Wilkins and Rob Willis. Transmissions will publish any further comments and suggestions readers may like to submit. Brian and Rob’s comments.
Why should it be attached to any organization, university, collecting institution? An independent organization – or one that is seen as independent will have a wider support base. Most of the above examples belong to a specific institution. Don’t we want an Australia wide structure? Australian Folklore Commission?

Structure – Paid Administrator - office wherever the administrator is located (as in the FAA – Rob). The administrator should have a broad knowledge of folklore and expertise in the lobbying, PR/promotion, funding application areas (plus be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound)

Administration assistant (paid) to be responsible for the development of a data base of folklore related material. This data base could be accessed online and the appropriate references given as to where the material is located and how to access.

Requests for information could also be referred to the board/committee – below.

Develop web sites in conjunction with various collecting institutions NLA SSA AWM AITSIS Museum on folklore related collections, as the American Library of congress does. Encourage the above collecting institutions (and others) to promote and exhibit their folklore collections – travelling exhibitions.

This would be the advantage of being independent in that you could work with ALL the above.

Board or committee from ALL levels of folklore. People with specialist knowledge or expertise – academics, performers, festival directors who could act as ‘consultants’ and advisors to government and other organizations – how would they be appointed? A balance is important. Would it become unwieldy because of the wide areas of folklore and the large number of people needed to cover these areas? This level needs to be enthusiastic and to be able to keep on task. Probably on a voluntary basis as the funding would only be enough for the above. May have to restrict the size in the development stage and add as we go.

A base membership of group who are enthusiasts in what they do and will put forward a united front. This could include folk organizations, C&W groups, family history, bush poets, historical societies, - a list of potential members would have to be assembled and a direct approach made in some cases.


1. Bob Bolton is on the trail of a traditional toast:

"But what's the use of talking when you're stony broke and walking,
And the tucker bag is empty and the fish refuse to bite?".

Anyone know anything about it?

2. Dear Folklore Research People,
I am writing a short life of Ben Hall for children, for Rigby Heinemann. I am certain there is a folk song or ballad called (or about) 'Sir Frederick Pottinger' but I cannot find it. It does not appear in any of Rod Edwards's collections or indices, so perhaps I have the title wrong. Lionel Long included it on an album recorded in the 1960s (see below), but I cannot get hold of a copy of this to check who wrote it; perhaps it was a poem set to music, for that recording.
Can you tell me if there is such a song or ballad, and if so, which collection (if any) it appears in? I would like to include some lyrics from it in my book, if they are appropriate.
Many thanks,
Stephen Gard
Thirlmere NSW

3. Alexander Hayes of the School of Art at Curtin University is researching 44-gallon drums in all their many uses. He is interested in any and all uses, re-uses, adaptations, etc. of 44s for his research, which also involves using the drums as musical instruments. If readers have come across any interesting re-uses of 44s please contact Alex at
He also has a website on 44s at

4. Rob Willis would like to know if anyone has worked on the folklore of the trucking industry and ‘truckies’.


Although readers may already have heard, the eminent American folklorist Alan Lomax died recently. Mark Gregory has written an extended article Alan Lomax article and you can see it at: The New York Times has published an extensive obituary on Lomax’s life and work at


50 significant songs, poems and stories that reflect on the contribution railways have made to the social history of Australia. This is a book of Australian Railway song, poems and stories produced to coincide with the opening of the Alice Springs Darwin Railway Line. This new railway line is expected to open in late 2003. The project is proceeding well and anyone who is interested in contributing can contact Brian Dunnett at


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Australian Folklore Research Unit
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National Library of Australia Oral History/Folklore Archive