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Before the Boomerang Came Back
Down By The Billabong
The World Turned Upside-Down
Forte – Golden Fiddlers
Stand Up & Shout

Yesterday's Australia:

Barbara James
Bob Dyer
Bobby Limb
Buddy Williams
Dame Nellie Melba
Florence Austral
Frank Coughlan
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Keith Branch & His South Sea Islanders

Percy Grainger
Reg Lindsay
Shirley Thoms
Smoky Dawson
Strella Wilson
Tex Morton
Tex Morton and Sister Dorrie
Warren Fahey's Diggers

Yesterday's Australia Compilations:

Australian Radio Serials
Australian Hillbilly Radio Hits
Australian Stars of the International Music Hall Voume 1
Australian Stars of the International Music Hall Voume 2
Band in a Waistcoat Pocket
Mastertouch Pianola
Strike up the Band
Stars of Australian Stage & Radio Vol 1
Stars of Australian Stage & Radio Vol 2

Yep! Records
Music Without Compromise


Jenny Morris
Michal Nicholas
The Lovetones
Saints of India
Screw the Pooch

Down by the Billabong
'Acoustic guitar arrangements of
Australian folk songs and bush tunes.'
Catalogue Number RRR69



Listen on Soundcloud  Listen on Spotify

Acoustic guitar arrangements of Australian folk songs and bush tunes.

This album is a dream come true for Executive Producer Warren Fahey. For over 40 years he has wanted to produce an album that would inspire young guitar players. It features John Kane, David Hyams, Kate Burke, Michael Fix, Nigel Date, Marcus Holden, Daniel Champagne, Jeff Lang, Kieran Ryan-Colton, Marcus Sturrock, John Munro, Dave O’Neill and Ian Date.

The album is 80 minutes of pure guitar joy.


Album Track Listing

  1. Old Black Billy – John Kane
  2. Tomahawking Fred – John Kane
  3. Brisbane Ladies/Overlanders/Augathella Station – David Hyams
  4. The Lost Sailor – Kate Burke
  5. Spanish Waltz – Kate Burke
  6. Green Bushes – Michael Fix
  7. Ryebuck Sheraer/Lachlan Tigers – Michael Fix
  8. Bluey on the Brink – Nigel Date (with Marcus Holden)
  9. Female Rambling Sailor – Nigel Date (with Marcus Holden)
  10. The Overlanders from Augathella Station – Daniel Champagne
  11. Click Go The Shears – Daniel Champagne
  12. Condamine Way (aka Banks Of The Condamine) – Jeff Lang
  13. Eileen McCoy’s Varsovienne No.1 – Keiran Ryan and Marcus Holden
  14. The Wild Colonial Boy/Frank Gardiner’s Hold Up At Eugowra Rocks – John Kane
  15. Waltzing With Matilda – Michael Fix
  16. Brisbane Ladies – Marcus Sturrock
  17. Merrily Kissed the Quaker’s Wife – Marcus Sturrock
  18. Drowsy Maggie – Marcus Sturrock
  19. The Dying Stockman/The Stockman’s Last Bed – John Munro
  20. Manchester Gallop – John Munro
  21. Clem O’Neales Schottische No 2/Ollie Watt’s Schottische – Dave O’Neill
  22. Jigs: (An Old Favourite)/The Pretty Maiden – Dave O’Neill
  23. Coolongatta Moon – Ian Date
  24. Yarrawonga – Ian Date


Down by the Billabong

This collection of guitar tunes started life as a dream in my continuing pursuit of ways to explore the Australian identity through music.

Although difficult to pinpoint I suspect the concept came to me in the early 1970s when, in association with my Folkways and Larrikin Record label, I produced an annual series of concerts, ten nights in a row, in association with the Sydney Festival. Over the years the concert series was staged at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, Conservatorium of Music and the Regent Theatre, and each year I would select local and international artists under the banner of the Larrikin Folklife Festival. There were many memorable performances - and guitarists featured every year. Some of the greats included international guitarists John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Stefan Grossman, Duck Baker and bluesman, Johnny Shines. Australia produced some wonderful guitar stylists too (including Mike McClellan, Chris Duffy, Declan Affley, Colin Dryden, Gary Greenwood, Paul Brand and Trevor Lucas, to name a handful) and I became increasingly fascinated in how our guitarists could interpret Australian traditional tunes and folk songs. I must admit it has taken a long time to get this project moving, however, moved it has and I am confident ‘Down By The Billabong’ will be viewed as a landmark in the Australian music story.

The premise was simply to allow a selection of leading guitarists to interpret some well-known and some not-so-well-known tunes that would provide other guitar players with a road map as to what can be done with tunes that are connected to our own story as Australians.

There is no doubting the colonial era of our history shaped us into the people we are today. It influenced our language, humour, attitudes and, most importantly, our view of who we are and where we came from. Of course in the 21st century we come from all over the globe but there is no denying our Anglo Celtic roots that are so evident in what we call our folk tradition. The old bush dance tunes and some of the melodies for the songs, although purposely loosely interpreted here, salute another time and, in their own way, represent the music played and sung around outback campfires and, possibly, down by the billabong.

The history of the guitar in Australia is intriguing and a subject begging to be researched. The first reference I could find dates to an announcement in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser on the 18th September 1808 where Mr. George Howe offered ‘a handsome guitar in good condition, with extra strings’. References to the guitar appear regularly from 1825 onwards including some instruments ‘of a very superior kind’. I believe the guitar jumped from the drawing room to the stage around the 1850s when the discovery of gold enticed several American minstrel troupes to tour the colonies. These minstrel shows, black-face and bold, were extremely popular in the bush goldfish towns and colonial cities and their instrumentation often included small guitars alongside the banjo, flageolet, fiddle and percussion instruments like the bones and jaw harp. The minstrel tradition continued right up to the end of the century and one imagines inspired many a youth to take up a musical instrument. By Federation our population had primarily shifted to the cities, for that is where the work was in factories and commerce. City life entertainment included variety theatre and dancing, particularly set dancing where just about any instrumentation was welcome. Music fads like square dancing and the Hawaiian music craze also featured the guitar. In the bush, pioneer country artists had already been influenced by American hillbilly stars and the Hank Snow, Gene Autry and Jimmie Rogers style of guitar playing became very popular. Local star entertainers like the young Slim Dusty and Tex Morton developed a simplistic yet very effective Country & Western guitar style that, along with their lyrics, seemed to have a particular Australian sound. Radio also contributed to the history of the guitar for most city radio stations had their own trio or quartet, usually a guitar, accordion, mouth organ and bass or piano. Radio Talent Quests inevitably featured ‘singing guitarists’.

In the 1950s Australia experienced its share of the international folk boom where Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger sound-a-likes sung to the inevitable accompaniment of a six or 12 string guitar. By the time the folk boom burst electrified rock and roll had become the music of the day and, as they say, music was never quite the same. Next came the singer songwriters and many, notably Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan had major influence on how we played and, sadly, what our singing sounded like. I had a guitar tuition studio above Folkways for twenty years and its very capable teacher, John Morris, was continually confronted with keen guitarists who usually sounded like Neil Young. Although music has become more and more electrified and digitised, sometimes good, sometimes bad, folk music of all genres still thrives - folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass and so on. The guitar is still the king of instruments and always ready for a musical challenge.

Warren Fahey, Executive Producer, Rouseabout Records

Here's what the media have to say...

Warren Fahey, iconic Australian musician, concert promoter, stage performer, record company proprietor and raconteur, traces the genesis of this extraordinary and magisterial CD of various artists playing acoustic guitar arrangements of Australian folk songs and bush tunes back to the early 1970s.

This amazing project features a roll call of extraordinarily talented and innovative Australian guitarists.

This is an album you can leave on loop, and hear something new each time you listen to the tunes come around, and around again!! An amazing tribute to the winning combination of Australian guitar talent and Australian songs and tunes. (Ian Dearden, Trad&Now, August 2016)

Music being almost as beholden to fashion as clothes and food, we are now in an era when few Australians would be familiar with the songs that were the soundtrack to our colonial past. And were they heard, they may sound corny, archaic or primitive. So how to save and even popularise a vital slice of our culture and oral history? Warren Fahey's ingenious solution was to invite a host of guitarists of different ages and musical backgrounds to create instrumental versions of 24 such pieces of music. The simple act of paring them back to solo acoustic renditions is enough for the songs to be heard anew, as if their inner light is being bent through a prism. This is most obvious with the best-known songs, such as Ryebuck Shearer and Waltzing Matilda (Michael Fix). Click Go the Shears (Daniel Champagne) and The Wild Colonial Boy (John Kane), where suddenly tunes that have often been swamped by a foreground of lyrics and rough-and-ready voices can be enjoyed for their own intrinsic beauty. Other players include Ian Date, Jeff Lang and Marcus Holden. (JOHN SHAND, Sydney Morning Herald, July 2016)

'This bumper collection compiled by Warren Fahey brings together two of this folk legend's greatest passions: Australia's musical heritage and the talents of some of the country's finest musicians. These 24 tracks offer a fresh, warm and wonderful take on this quintessentially Australian music, and are well worth a long, delightful listening session.'
(Susan Jarvis, Country Music Capital News)

Down by the Billabong finally brings to fruition a concept hatched four decades ago by Australia’s foremost folkloric authority. As part of his lifelong mission to explore the national ethos through music, project curator Warren Fahey has persuaded some of the country’s most respected acoustic guitarists to record their own selections and arrangements of tunes from the folk-bush archives.

Connoisseurs of quality guitar playing will find the resultant compilation compulsive listening, with the repetitive nature of melody and inherent simplicity of rhythm associated with many classics of the genre and era bringing out the best of the interpreters in terms of imagination and dexterity.”

(4.5 stars, Tony Hillier, The Weekend Australian)

“You’ve certainly got the pick of the crop here I'll look forward to playing it on air.

(Russell Hannah, VOX FM)

The guitar has been an essential part of country music since it's inception in the 1920s featuring mainly as the sole backing instrument in the early “pick and strum” days from there it became the dominant instrument as the country music band took main stage. Arthur Smith heralded a new era with his “Guitar Boogie” which did away with the theory that guitars were only good for backing singers. Other great names have added weight to this including Chet Atkins, and Australia's own Barry Thornton, Lindsay Butler, and Tommy Emanuel, whilst Andres Sergovia showed that the humble guitar could shine as a classical instrument.

Warren Fahey who specialises in early Australian music has opened yet another guitar window, with the release of his latest production, a twenty four track CD carrying the title of “Down By The Billabong” which features all acoustic versions of Australian folk songs and bush tunes, including “Waltzing With Matilda”, “Click Go The Shears”, “Brisbane Ladies”, “The Dying Stock man”, “Varsovienne”, “Ryebuck Shearer”, “Yarrawonga”, and lots more. Guitarists include John Kane, Michael Fix, Marcus Holden, John Munroe, Kate Burke, Marcus Sturrock, and so the list goes on. These are not the usual renditions with each artist “going down their own track” with improvisations on the normal themes. The songs may be old, but the versions certainly are not. This is a must for lovers of acoustic guitar music who like to trip down memory lane whilst accepting the fact that the lane may take some unexpected turns. Thank you Mr Fahey for this little gem, it's on Rouseabout Records.

(Burt Everett, Twang Talk)

“A fine album”
(John Nutting, Australian Country Radio)

“I have played several tracks of this great album on Radio Adelaide Folk Show and the Community Radio Folk Show, that’s a national program available to all community radio stations on a download. Available Thursday 9.00pm with a repeat 0605am Saturday.”
(David Long)

“A lovely album”
(Shirley Smith, VOX FM)

Some of my favourite performers are on this gem of an album
(Jan Nary, Acoustic Harvest, Bay FM)