Anyone with a feel for the remarkable history of South Gippsland should be aware of an important musical document available at Coal Creek.
It’s a CD entitled ‘Pithead in the Fern’.
It contains 23 original songs composed in the 1990s with the aid of a State Government grant.
The CD was recently re-released with three new songs and a booklet containing the songs’ words together with the composer’s notes.
Most songs were composed by John Warner, a native of Leongatha, now living in Sydney.
John is joined on the CD by Margaret Walters and the group ‘Taliesin’.
The songs tell of the history of South Gippsland, with the pithead symbolising the coming of the white settlers and industrialisation, and the fern an example of the natural beauty still to be found here.
They tell of the coming of the railway, the coal mines, the disappearing forests, dispossessed aboriginal communities, the struggles of the miners against dangerous working conditions and management, and the pioneering farming families struggling against the weather, the forests and bushfires.
Those who saw the celebrated play ‘A Question of Honour’, performed at Coal Creek on numerous occasions during the past two years, will recognise some of the songs which were included in that play.
The very popular ‘Drunk’s Express’ (or ‘Korumburra town on a Friday’) was one very catchy song performed there.
“As a relative newcomer to this lovely region I have purchased a number of these CD’s for friends and for family members overseas, so they too will appreciate the hard times of the early years in this region, and I believe everyone with an appreciation of our South Gippsland history should be proud to include a copy of this important piece in their collection.
Peter Gilbert, Korumburra.
Our history in song