Saturday, 16 September 2017

John Meredith - photos from the Peter Ellis Collection.

Peter Ellis Collection, National Library Oral History collection

all quotes are taken from emails sent by Peter.

Merro at Yass, 1988 (Peter Ellis photo)

Merro & Peter Ellis at Harry McQueen's place, Castlemain, c1989  
(John Meredith photo)

Taken in Harry McQueen’s lounge in Castlemaine during an interview. Merro would have the original, it should be around, I rescued this from a local newspaper I think

Collecting trip to South Australia & Western Australia, 1991.
Merro took all pictures he had a timer on his camera on a tripod. (email from Peter 12/08/12)

First night our from Thirlemere on the WA trip - Merro & Peter at motel in Hay
with Peter's FJ Holden,1991 (John Meredith photo)


Merro & Peter on the Nullabor (John Meredith photo)

Merro & Peter on the Nullabor 1991 (John Meredith photo)

This is the famous one, he used a black and white of it in Real Folk and the National Library have that, but it was taken in colour. I drove a little way off the highway on a track towards some sand dunes (where the Great Australian Bite would have been) for effort.

Merro on the Nullabour
on the return from Perth, 1991  (Peter Ellis photo)
There’s one more I took on the main highway across the Nullabour, i.e. sealed rd. not the off road famous one. In this I’ve got Merro pointing out at the treeless nothing.

Kimba, Half Way across Australia (John Meredith photo)

This is at Kimba where we interviewed Ma Seal, was about Merro’s trip to see her. The postboard is advertising Kimbar on the Eyre Peninsula S.A. as half way across Australia between Sydney and Perth.

Cranbrook WA - Sept 1991

This one, no people so you mightn’t want it, is at my father’s cousin’s place. At the time Charles and Wyn Lilford, now both deceased. Merro and I interviewed them for the National Library, details in the Merro article I sent you. The name of the farm is East Lynne, set up originally by my great uncle Frank Lilford, and it is at Cranbrook W.A.

Merro at the Bight, 1991 (Peter Ellis photo)
it says on the back (not my writing) John Meredith indicating the South Pole near the head of the Great Australian Bight. September 1991

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John Meredith - photos from the Rob Willis collection

Thanks to Rob for sharing his photos.

Rob accompanied John Meredith on collecting trips from 1983 until Merro retired in 1994. Rob is still collecting
Willis collection in National Library Oral History collection. 
The Rob Willis Collection is one of the largest oral history collections in Australia. He has recorded over 900 individuals in all states of Australia, as well as folk groups, singing groups, bands and choirs. To date, the collection totals 856 hours of playing time.  (
As the page is undated, the total will be greater today.)

Camping near Mt Hope NSW on a field trip with Rob (Rob Willis photo)

John at Gunnedah with a Stanley concertina with Chinese bellows grafted on which formerly belonged to Ken Bennett.  (Rob Willis photo)

Merro playing Pop Craythorne’s accordion
(Rob Willis photo)
Image taken in Holbrook Museum of John playing ‘Pop Craythorn’s Accordion’ similar to one that John played in early days.
Pop was a local musician who had a large impact on Merro’s music as he let him play the extras at dances and sit in with him when he was a kid.  Meredith played this accordion on numerous occasions at dances.
   (email from Rob Willis, 9/04/13)

Merro with the original Lagerphone made by his brother Claude  (Rob Willis photo)

Our tent on one of the early field trips, 1987 (Rob Willis photo)

Merro & Rob with their travelling accordions (Rob Willis photo using self-timer)
The two accordions that Merro and I are playing are our ‘travelling’ accordions that we took on many field trips.  Busilachio in the key of C.  Both were obtained from people we recorded – mine from Jack Smith of Forbes (grey) his (red) from Ollie Moore of Swan Hill. I still have mine with the original case and a Holbrook sticker pasted on it.  (email from Rob Willis, 9/04/13)

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Friday, 15 September 2017

The Bushwhackers, June 1953 - 1957, a photographic record.


It all started with the formation of The Heathcote Bushwhackers. In June 1953 a literary and musical evening held at Jack Barrie’s house at Heathcote was to have an “Australian Night” - something unique in those days when our own culture appeared in danger of being engulfed in the flood of second-rate canned American music. Jack, Brian Loughlin and I got together with button accordeon and two of our recent discoveries; a tea chest bass and a lagerphone.

We stuck on false whiskers, dressed rough and gave out with our entire repertoire; Click Go The Shears, Botany Bay and Nine Miles From Gundagai. In spite of my whiskers falling off, or maybe because of them, we were an immediate success - as a comedy act! Chris Kempster joined us after that performance and then Harry Kay.
We were invited to perform our bracket of three numbers at a Tribune concert organised by the Australian Communist Party, at the Hurstville Rivoli Theatre. We were a sensation! The audience shouted, stamped and clapped for more and wouldn’t shut up. And we didn’t know any more. Eventually we went back and did Botany Bay again and invited them to join in on the choruses.
The idea of a group playing traditional instruments and singing Australian songs, straight and not in choral arrangements, was novel and soon we could not cope with the engagements that came rolling in. The following year we supplied the songs and music for four or five historical radio features written for the ABC by Nancy Keesing. We were joined by Alan Scott, Cec Grivas and later by Alec Hood. One day Brian Loughlin told me that someone had suggested that we form some sort of a club and after many bright and not so bright ideas for a name we fixed on The Bush Music Club

Mulga Wire No. 17, February 1980, pp. 5-10, article by John Meredith

The Bushwhackers broke up sometime in 1957 and Concert Party was formed to be the performing arm of the Bush Music Club. Concert Party was ready for engagements by June.

Newsletter, 3(1), June 1957 


 The A.B.C Weekly, April 9, 1955

Still from movie Three in One  taken from video shown by Keith McKenry at launch of More than a life - John Meredith and the Fight for Australian tradition.

Undated photo, probably 1954 according to Alex Hood

Brian Laughlin (lagerphone) Chris Kempster (guitar), Alan Scott (tin whistle), Alex Hood (bones), John Meredith(squeeze box), Jack Barrie (tea chest bass)
Alex thinks it was a warm up at the Henry Lawson Statue, we couldn't see Harry Kay, maybe he was hidden. Alex thinks it was 1954 (not absolutely certain of the date).

(email from Alex & Annette Hood)


Ad for the new Bush Music Club, Tribune Wed 17/11/54 (TROVE)

Reedy River - Chris Kempster, Brian Loughlin, John Meredith, Jack Barrie

Reedy River - Chris Kempster, Jack Barrie, John Meredith, Brian Loughlin, Chris Kempster

Bushwhackers on a visit to Lithgow, photo taken by John Meredith (Dec 1954)

Alan Scott, Chris Kempster, John Meredith, Jack Barrie, Harry Kay, Cecil Grivas, Alex Hood

Concert at Sydney Cricket Ground for Far West Scheme or Smith Family (sources differ), entertaining
5000 kids - without amplification.
left to right, Jack Barrie's sleeve, John Meredith (accordion), Alex Hood (bones), Chris Kempster (guitar), Alan Scott (nose flute), Harry Kay (mouth organ), Brian Loughlin (lagerphone)

Dame Mary Gilmore with the cast of the 1955 revival of Reedy River on her 90th Birthday

In March, 1955, New Theatre revived Reedy River for two weekends ...  Jamie Carlin - The First Ten Years originally published in Singabout Vol 5, No 2, October 1964, pages 12-14.
email from Bob Bolton, 17/9/13  ... and she received some gifts ... and a birthday cake ... in the Manager's Suite of the Rural Bank Building, Martin Place. The Bushwhackers Band are all togged up in their well stage-worn Reedy River costumes ... Merro always reckoned that Mary Gilmore said that their costume was so right that she could even smell the shearing shed ... Merro just reckoned she could small the stage costumes!!!

Australian Folklore Festival - 3rd September 1955 (BMC Archives)



Visit to Lawson's birthplace, September 1956. (BMC Archives) 

Singabut 1(4), Spring 1956
has a report of the visit.

Brian Loughlin (lagerphone), Harry Kay (harmonica), Cec Grievas (bones, behind Harry), Alan Scott (whistle), John Meredith (accordion), Jack Barrie (bush bass), Chris Kempster (guitar)



All photos, BMC Archives

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

John Meredith - author

John Meredith published many books and articles in magazines and journals. BMC's library contains a scrapbook of articles he published in Stringybark & Greenhide.

National Library catalogue entry lists 995 entries for John Meredith (author). Items include books, recordings, and an enormous number of photographs.

John Meredith's bookplate


Songs from the Bush collected and edited by John Meredith and others.
Arranged by Alfred Hill. Imperial edition no. 766. Allan & Co Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Adelaide, Bendigo.


Bushwhacker Songs: Old and New Sydney: John Meredith, ca.1955, (foolscap) -

Seven Bushwhacker Broadsides bound together with Bushwhacker Community Songsheet, no. 1.
no. 1

foolscap page scanned as 2 images


Songs from the Kelly Country,
collected and edited by John Meredith; illustrations and layout by Gil Small, assisted in publication by Brian Loughlin. 1956


Songs From Lawson, edited by John Meredith. Woollomooloo, N.S.W.: Bush Music Club, 1956, 1957


The Songs from the Australian musical drama Reedy River, by Dick Diamond /​ prepared by David E. Milliss and John Meredith; with the assistance of Stan Wakefield and Laurence Morris.  2nd ed. Sydney: New Theatre, 1960.   Cover title: "Reedy River" song book.

Authentic Australian Bush Ballads, edited by John Meredith & Alan Scott for the Bush Music Club. Sydney, Southern Music Publishing company, c.1960


The Wild Colonial Boy: The Life and Times of Jack Donahoe 1808(?)-1830
. Sydney, N.S.W.: Wentworth Press, 1960


Songs of Australia Words & Music by Stan Wakefield, edited by John Meredith for The Bush Music Club. Series no. 2. Sydney, Southern Music Publishing Co, 1966


Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them By John Meredith and Hugh Anderson. Sydney: Ure Smith, ca.1967, 1968, 1973

2nd ed 1967 reprinted 1985


Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them by John Meredith and Hugh Anderson. Dee Why West, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, 1968, 1979


Frank, The Poet: The Life and Works of Francis MacNamara by John Meredith and Rex Whalan. Melbourne: Red Rooster, 1979

Review of Frank the Poet in Mulga Wire no. 15, October 1979, page 4 (unsigned - Editors  Dave Johnson, Bob Bolton and Ralph Pride)

Review of Frank the Poet by Lester Grace, Stringybark & Greenhide, 1(4), p.25


Ned Kelly After A Century of Acrimony   by John Meredith and Bill Scott. Sydney: Lansdowne Press, 1980



The Coo-ee March: Gilgandra-Sydney 1915 Dubbo, N.S.W.: Macquarie Publications, 1981

Review by Bob Bolton of The Coo-ee March in Mulga Wire no. 25, June 1981


The Donahoe Ballads Ascot Vale, Vic.: Red Rooster Press, ca.1982


The Wild Colonial Boy: Bushranger Jack Donahoe, 1806–1830 Ascot Vale, Vic.: Red Rooster Press, 1982


Duke of the Outback: The Adventures of "A Shearer Named Tritton" Vale, Vic.: Red Rooster Press, 1983


Learn To Talk Old Jack Lang: A Handbook of Australian Rhyming Slang by John Meredith, drawings by George Sprod. Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1984, 2nd edition

Dinkum Aussie Slang: 
A Handbook of Australian Rhyming Slang  by John Meredith, drawings by George Sprod. Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1991

Thanks to Chris Woodland for scans of inscriptions in these titles and for the following information.

The reason that Learn to Talk Old Jack Lang was closely followed by Dinkum Aussie Slang was because the title of the first publication was felt to be too esoteric.


Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them, Volume 2  by John Meredith and Hugh Anderson. Kensington, N.S.W: New South Wales University Press, 1987 

Launch of this book


The Householders' Compendium   Shepparton, Vic.: Night Owl, 1986

Corrections courtesy of Chris Woodland.


The Coo-ee March: Gilgandra-Sydney, 1915  Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1986


King of the Dance Hall: The Story of Fifty Years of Ballroom Music with Frank Bourke and the White Rose Orchestra Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, c1986


Gallant Peter Clark Woden, A.C.T.: Popinjay, 1988

Peter Clark was a drover in the Hunter region of NSW. He was killed by Wilson the bushranger in 1868. This book sets out to be an example of the processes of oral tradition, to bring together all the various accounts of the incident.


The Last Kooradgie: Moyengully, Chief Man of the Gundungurra People Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1989


Real Folk Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1995


 Breaker's Mate : Will Ogilvie in Australia By Will Henry Ogilvie, compiled and edited by John Meredith. Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, ca.1996

Haiku of John Meredith, made by hand by Merro, using traditional materials, including rice paper, Size is 4 1/8 inches (105mm)  X  5 13/16 inches (147mm). With thoughtful haiku poems. (Chris Woodland collection)


List of publications from Wikipedia with additions of publications found in BMC archives

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