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The History of the VFMC

The roots of the VFMC lie in the formation of the original Bushwackers' Band in Melbourne in 1955, which appeared with great success in the second production of the play "Reedy River". After a change of name to the Billabong Band, the Band built up a keen audience of fans around Melbourne and began to hold regular monthly Singabouts to cater for them. Band members along with some of their most enthusiastic followers launched the Victorian Bush Music Club on June 26th, 1959.

The Club had the aim of reviving Australian folk songs and restoring them to their former popularity, and undertook to assist in, and to encourage, the composing of new songs, contemporary in subject and traditional in style.

In its earliest days the Club made use of the publications of the Sydney Bush Music Club such as Singabout magazine, but by 1960, had launched its own monthly newsletter. In 1961 the Club combined with the Folklore Society of Victoria and brought out a monthly publication, the Gumsuckers' Gazette. Words and music of songs were included in this, and by 1964, a more ambitious publication, Australian Tradition, was launched.

In 1962 contact was made with a fine group of dancers and musicians in the Corryong district led by Beat and Con Klippel, and yearly get-togethers have been held there ever since, now known as the Nariel Folk Festival, held over the New Year weekend.

1963 saw the first big Moomba folk concert, at which VFMC members provided the bulk of the program. Following closely on this was a most successful weeklong folk festival in conjunction with the Folklore Society of Victoria and the Council for Adult Education. A change of name to the Victorian Folk Music Club was made to emphasise that the Club's interests included urban and contemporary songs.

Early in 1966 the Club took the initiative, along with Glen Tomasetti and Martin Wyndham-Read, of launching the Port Phillip Folk Festival Committee, and started it off financially with a $100 grant. This festival was so successful that it eventually became the National Folk Festival, now held annually over Easter at the Canberra Showgrounds.

Over the years, the Club has vigorously promoted Australian music and dance by sponsoring a number of important publications, including Peter Ellis's "Collector's Choice" book series, a double tape set of historic recordings of legendary Castlemaine accordionist Harry McQueen and the Joy Durst Memorial Song Collection.

Adapted from an article in "Australian Tradition", August 1969, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the VFMC.

Official site of the Victorian Folk Music Club Incorporated (Reg No A2511Y)