Wongawilli Colonial
Dance Club Inc.

PO Box 17
Albion Park, NSW, 2527

email     wongawillicolonialdanceclub@gmail.com  

Cris Terry     phone: 0404 667 614




New Wongawilli Recording, released June 2008    

Over 72 minutes of traditional, contemporary and original Australian folk songs and tunes

Australia Streets are scattered across the cities, suburbs and towns of Australia. In them generations of Australians have made their homes, expressing their sense of who they are and where they come from. These songs and tunes form part of a folk music tradition now part of that expression.

Click here to order the CD securely online for $25AUD plus postage & packaging from the
Illawarra Folk Club Store

You can also purchase other Wongawilli recordings and sheet music / dance publications on this secure website.

Click here to download a FAX / POSTAL ORDER FORM.

Click here to hear samples on Myspace


David De Santi – piano accordion | Samuel De Santi – bodhran, fiddle Tableland Reels, Tassie Polkas | Tania De Santi – piano | Tim Kendell – guitar, vocal | Graeme Murray – main vocal, lagerphone, snare drum, kick drum | Reg Murray – mandolin | Miffy Ryan – violin, viola |Johnny Spillane – whistles, bagpipe, vocal

Guest musicians: Phil Burke – pipe band snare drum Coal Dust Tattoos, Tableland Reels | Neil McCann – bass, 5 string banjo, guitar Coal Dust Tattoos | John Broomhall – backing vocal Time is a Tempest | Mark Holder-Keeping – saxophone, clarinet Victor Podham’s Rusty Hut, Long Weekend at Home, Sam’s Tarantella

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The Tracks

1 Victor Podham’s Rusty Hut (Dougie Young) 3:51

2 Sing Us A Song (Michael O’Rourke) 3:51

3 Waltzing Matilda (trad) 4:07

4 Tableland Reels (trad) 6:11   - instrumental

5 Poison Train (Michael O’Rourke) 4:15

6 Outside Track (Henry Lawson / Gerry Hallom) 4:50

7 Sign On Day (trad) 2:31

8 Tassie Polkas (trad) 6:13 - instrumental

9 Coal Dust Tattoos (trad) 4:24

10 The Stockman’s Lone Grave (trad) 3:06

11 Ciao Billabong / Sam’s Tarantella (David De Santi / Neil McCann / Graeme Murray) 3:53

12 Merro’s Medley - Mazurka / Schottische / Jigs (trad) 7:19 - instrumental

13 Around the Boree Log (John O’Brien) 2:51

14 Coopers Sparkling Ale (John Dengate) 3:12

15 Life is Like a Mighty River (trad) 3:28

16 Long Weekend at Home / Sandpit Reel (David De Santi) 4:42 - instrumental

17 The Overlanders (trad) 3:18

18 Time is a Tempest (John Broomhall) 3:57



About the Band

The Wongawilli Band was originally formed in 1987 to promote, preserve and perform Australia’s rich tradition of music, song and dance. Since that time they have continued to revive old songs and tunes and to create new ones in the style

It has basically had two ensembles and is now entering a third lineup. Past members have included Neil McCann, John Harpley, Chloe Roweth and Jason Roweth

The new musicians joining Graeme, Tania, Reg, Samuel and David are Johnny Spillane, Tim Kendall and Miffy Ryan. Jane Brownlee is still part of the group while she is overseas and joins the band when touring

In recent years the band has performed outside Australiaon a number of occasions thanks to support from the Australian government. These have been in China (3 times), DenmarkSwedenFinlandGermanyNew Zealand and the UK

The band has become well known throughout Australiawith performances at all major folk festivals in all Australian states including events at Woodford, Port Fairy, VictorHarbour and the National Folk Festival in Canberra on 18 occasions

The band has aimed at trying to be different from the average bush band by performing unfamiliar yet entertaining music. This formula has received national recognition with 16 awards at the Australian Bush Music Festival and Bush Band Championships.

In particular the band’s singer, Graeme Murray, received the 1991 Australian Bush Music Awards Best Male Vocalist ahead of John Williamson and Alan Scott. He repeated the award in 1993 and 1994

The band’s accordionist, David De Santi, received the 1992 Australian Bush Music Heritage Award, a Commonwealth Government Centenary Medal in 2003 for services to the folk music industry in Australia, was the editor of Australia’s national folk music magazine Trad&Now and Illawarra Folk Festival Director since 1996

Jane Brownlee and David De Santi were awarded the 2004 National Library of Australia Folk Festival Fellowship which involved further researching of Australia’s song and 
music tradition

The group includes 11 year old Samuel De Santi, a wizard on the Irish bodhran since the age of 5!

The band takes its name from the old coal mining village ofWongawilli which is at the foot of the Illawarra escarpment, south-west of Wollongong, NSW. The village has a community hall at which the band members still play for a weekly 
bush dance

David De Santi, May 2008


  • David De Santi – piano accordion

  • Samuel De Santi – bodhran, fiddle Tableland Reels, Tassie Polkas

  • Tania De Santi – piano

  • Tim Kendell – guitar, vocal

  • Graeme Murray – main vocal, lagerphone, snare drum, kick drum

  • Reg Murray – mandolin

  • Miffy Ryan – violin, viola

  • Johnny Spillane – whistles, bagpipe, vocal

Guest musicians

  • Phil Burke – pipe band snare drum Coal Dust Tattoos, Tableland Reels

  • Neil McCann – bass, 5 string banjo, guitar Coal Dust Tattoos

  • John Broomhall – backing vocal Time is a Tempest

  • Mark Holder-Keeping – saxophone, clarinet Victor Podham’s Rusty Hut, Long Weekend at Home, Sam’s Tarantella


  • Robbie Specogna and Adam Jordan from Main Street Studio in Fairy Meadow for sound mastery

  • Pat Murray and Bev Murray for their wonderful support to Reg and Graeme and the band over the years

  • Past members of the band – Neil McCann, John Harpley, Chloe Roweth, Jason Roweth for still being great mates

  • Pedro Altuna, Milk Bar Studios, for his wonderful graphical design, inspiration and photography of the band and instruments in this booklet 

  • Graeme Morrison for his ongoing photography and support

  • All the collectors of Australia’s rich folklore

  • National Library of Australia for ongoing support and access

  • All the dancers and folk at Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club
    who have danced and socialised with the band over the years

  • Illawarra Folk Club for its continual support, in particular Russell Hannah

  • Jane Brownlee for her wonderful contribution to the band even while she is London

CD Cover photograph

Crown Street, Wollongong circa 1932 looking east nearKeira Street intersection and was sourced from the the collections of Wollongong City Library and the Illawarra Historical Society. The Mount Kembla Colliery Disaster Memorial is in the foreground and was at the junction withCrown Lane. This memorial commemorates the 1902 coal mine disaster in which 94 local men and boys lost their lives. This tragedy is still described as the worst mining disaster in Australian history. The Memorial was erected and dedicated in 1905. On 5th August 1973, it was moved to the cemetery at the Soldier's and Miner's MemorialChurch, in the village of Mount Kembla


  • Australian Folk Song Index, 24 volumes Ron Edwards, from 1971

  • Folk Songs of Australia Volume 1 John Meredith and Hugh Anderson, 1967

  • Folk Songs of Australia, Volume 2 John Meredith Patricia Brown,Roger Covell New South Wales University Press, 1987

  • The Songs of Henry Lawson, compiled by Chris Kempster, Penguin Books, 1st Edition 1989 2nd Edition 2008 NSW Folk Federation of NSW

  • Down and Outback, Brad Tate Popinjay Publications, 1988

  • Songs of Australian Working Life, Therese Radic Greenhouse Publications, 1989

  • Australian Traditional Dance Tunes, Volume 1, compiled by David De Santi with Jane Brownlee, Alan Musgrove Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club, 2002

  • Australian Traditional Dance Tunes, Volume 2 compiled by David De Santi with Jane Brownlee Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club, 2006

  • Zumpa, A Folk Musicians’s Italian Tune Collection compiled by David De Santi, Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club, 2007

  • A Queensland Selection, Traditional Couples Dances & Tunes of the South-East, Maria Zann & Mark Schuster Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club, 1992

  • The Overlander Songbook, Ron Edwards, Rigby 1971

  • National Library of Australia Catalogue www.nla.gov.au

  • Australian Folk Songs, website by Mark Gregoryhttp://folkstream.com/index.html

The Tracks, more details

1 Victor Podham’s Rusty Hut
(Dougie Young) 3:51

words and music Dougie Young. The instrumental tune is based upon In the Mood, made famous by Glenn Miller in the 1930s

Dougie Young had both Aboriginal and European ancestry. He was born around Cunnamulla, south-central Queensland around 1947 but as a young man he headed west to the sheep and cattle stations of the outback. Dougie recorded a number of songs on Edgar Water’s and Peter Hamilton’s Wattle recording no. 19/3. It came from a field tape collected at Wilcannia aboriginal camp by Dr Jeremy Beckett, an anthropologist in 1963/64. The music had more of a country and western influence than tribal. Three sharp turns refers to the triangular shaped bottle of methylated spirits

2 Sing Us A Song (Michael O’Rourke) 3:51

Michael O’Rourke was one of the fine crop of singer / songwriters of the Australian folk music revival which began in the 1950s. He was brought up on the Atherton tableland in north Queensland. His songs have been ‘covered’ by a number of artists

3 Waltzing Matilda (trad) 4:07

Words A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson, music Marie Cowan, Christina McPherson, traditional. This version of Waltzing Matilda combines the 2 popular tunes - Christina McPherson’s/ Marie Cowans and the Queensland Buderim versions with the tune that was claimed to be the basis of the Christina McPherson music Thou Bonnie Woods o’ Craigielea

A. B. Banjo Paterson wrote the words in 1894 to a tune supplied by Christina McPherson at Dagworth Station near Winton in Queensland. Christina had apparently heard the tune played at the Warnambool Races in Victori (near Port Fairy). The tune is thought to be ‘Thou Bonnie Wood o’ Craigilea’ composed n by James Bar and words by Robert Tannahill. It was first published in Scotland in 1818. Mrs Marie Cowan set a slightly altered version of Paterson’s words which was published by James Inglis and Co as a hand-out with the product ‘Billy-tea’ in 1903. There is still controversy about the origins of the tune. TheQueensland version of Waltzing Matilda was collected by John Manifold from John O’Neill of Buderim, Qld. This tune has also been collected for the Irish song, ‘The Bonny Green Tree’

4 Tableland Reels (trad) 6:11

Colin Charlton’s, Frank Collins, Teddy Creightons Stepdance, Coming Down the Mountain

A selection of Australian tunes collected from players west of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales. Colin Charlton is a fiddle and accordion player from Cookamidgera near Parkes. Frank Collins was fine Scottish style fiddler from Goulburn and made acetate recordings in the 1950s. Teddy Creighton’s Stepdance tune is from fiddler Stan Treacy of Limerick near Crookwell. Teddy was a well known step dancer in the area. Coming Down the Mountain is Sally Sloane of Lithgow. She played button accordion, fiddle, harmonica and was one of Australia’s finest traditional singers. She was the most documented traditional performer in Australia and the source of many collected tunes and songs. All these Australian flavoured tunes and many more are waiting to be discovered and played. Thanks to collectors such as John Meredith, Rob Willis, Chris Sullivan, Dave de Hugard and many others they can be found in the National Library of Australia Oral History collection

5 Poison Train (Michael O’Rourke) 4:15

6 Outside Track (Henry Lawson / Gerry Hallom) 4:50

7 Sign On Day (trad) 2:31

From The Big Book of Australian FolkSong, 1976, compiled by Bill Scott. It was learnt from Bill Oliver, Redlynch, North Queesland, in 1960

8 Tassie Polkas (trad) 6:13

The Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat’s Eye, School Polka, The Old Clog, George Bailey’s No.1

A selection of tunes from the ‘Apple Isle’. The Black Cat and Old Clog tunes are from Les Brown, an aboriginal fiddler from Cape Barren Islandat the north end of Tasmania. The local people played European style tunes left behind by the whalers and sailors. They still play these old tunes. The School Polka is from traditional musicians Edie and Paddy Dawson from Franklin. George Bailey’s tunes were discovered by David De Santi and Jane Brownlee during their National Library of Australia Folk Festival Fellowship in the Chris Sullivan collection. Thanks again to collectors John Meredith, Rob Willis and Chris Sullivan for their work

9 Coal Dust Tattoos (trad) 4:24

Pat Keegan is a fine singer songwriter from the far South Coast and was a member of the Loaded Dog Bush Band that Wongawilli met at the Australian Bush Music Festival in Glen Innes during the 1990s

10 The Stockman’s Lone Grave (trad) 3:06

Based upon a version by A.L. Lloyd on a Wattle Recording, found in the National Library of Australia, Oral History reference TRC 2213. This song was discovered on a recording in the Wattle Collection at the National Library of Australia by David De Santi and Jane Brownlee during their 2004 Fellowship. It was sung by A.L.Lloyd. It was never released as a commercial recording. Ron Edwards notes in his Australian Folk Song Index that versions of the song had been around since 1845! A number of versions have been collected by John Meredith, Ron Edwards, Alan Scott and Warren Fahey

11 Ciao Billabong / Sam’s Tarantella (David De Santi / Neil McCann / Graeme Murray) 3:53

words David De Santi and Neil McCann, music by David De Santi, Neil McCann and Graeme Murray. Sam’s Tarantella by David De Santi. Over 350,000 Italians have made Australia their home since European settlement. David De Santi’s parents, Aniello and Angela, are amongst them. They came from Vallo Della Lucania in the region of Campania,Naples.The tune, named after Samuel Aniello De Santi, is composed in a classical southern Italian tarantella style

12 Merro’s Medley
Mazurka / Schottische / Jigs (trad) 7:19

Stan Treacy’s Stamping Mazurka, Paddy’s Schottische, The Wedding of Lochan McGraw (jig), Ben Hooper’s Drunken Parson (jig)

This set is named after Australian collector John Meredith, Merro to his friends. Stan Treacy was a fiddler from Crookwell, NSW and was visited by other collectors including Chris Sullivan, Dave de Hugard and Brad Tate. Paddy’s Schottische is from Paddy Godden of Forbes, NSW and he provided a number of great tunes to John and fellow collector Rob Willis. Rob has also done a huge job of collecting tunes and songs with the added bonus of freely sharing the material. The Wedding of Lochan McGraw comes from fiddler Joe Yates of Sofala, NSW and is based upon a song of the same name. 
The Drunken Parson, originally a Scottish tune, is from Ben Hooper of Port Kembla. It was discovered by David De Santi and Jane Brownlee in their 2004 National Library of Australia Folk Festival Fellowship from the Alan Scott Collection

John Meredith began collecting Australian songs, tunes and folklore in 1952. All 374 hours of his collecting effort are housed in the National Library of Australia and will provide an enormous resource to future performers and researchers. We were fortunate to have known John well and to enjoy his company, humour and advice

13 Around the Boree Log
(John O’Brien) 2:51

John O’Brien was the pen name for the pioneer poet Monsignor Patrick Hartigan. While his parents came from the small Irish village of Lisseycasey in County Clare, Father Pat, as that was what most people called him, was born in Yass in southern NSW in 1878. He was the fourth of nine children. He was an ordained priest whose poetry combined his dry humour and spirituality with stories from the everyday lives of the people he met. Incorporating the spirit of the Bush into his poems, they became a great success. Hartigan’s (O’Brien’s) works include Around the Boree Log (1906) and On Darlinghurst Hill (1951)

14 Coopers Sparkling Ale (John Dengate) 3:12

The South Australian Coopers Brewery was established in 1862 and has become one of Australia’s most popular native owned beers. John Dengate loves it as do many Australians. John is Australia’s master of traditional parody - his satire bites, his songs are clever, his sense of the ridiculous is highly developed, he reduces pomposity to banality and he dances precariously around the libel laws. Above all, however, he is an entertainer

15 Life is Like a Mighty River (trad) 3:28

Collected from Bill Miles, of Omeo in the 1960s by Norman O’Connor.

This song was sourced in the National Library of Australia from recording 2539/74 by Jane Brownlee and David De Santi as part of their 2004 National Library Folk Festival Fellowship. Jane Brownlee composed the chorus and instrumental tune

16 Long Weekend at Home/ Sandpit Reel (David De Santi) 4:42

Tunes composed by David De Santi with help from Samuel De Santi

“It is seldom that the band is not performing at a festival or event on a long weekend however back a few years ago we were home. Young Samuel had the chicken pox and we were listening to all sorts of ‘plugged’ folk music ranging from Burach to Shooglenifty to La Bottine Souriante. These two tunes popped into existence while messing around on the accordion. The second tune’s name came from a question by band member, Jason Roweth

Jason knew that 5 year old Samuel was at preschool and that he had an imaginary band called Big Snore Hammers, which by the way is a reality now. So Jason asked” “Sam, where have you been gigging lately? Festivals, folk clubs?”

Sam’s reply: Sandpits.”

17 The Overlanders (trad) 3:18

This song was published as early as 1865 in The Queenslanders’ New Colonial Fire Song Book. There the tune given is as ‘Dearest Mae’ and author ‘Remos’ (Phillip Somer). This minor key version is from the singing of A.L.Lloyd Also known as The Queensland Drover the song has been collected in a number of versions. In his Big Book of Australian Folk Song Ron Edwards prints four versions

18 Time is a Tempest (John Broomhall) 3:57

John is a fine local singer-songwriter in the tradition of Australia's great ballad poets. He hails from Broken Hill but has the made the Illawarra his home for many years.

Copyright © 2002 - 2009 Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club Inc. All Rights Reserved

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