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Obit: Peter Ellis, Australia May 2015

Sandra in Sydney 23 May 15 - 11:54 AM
JennieG 23 May 15 - 06:49 PM
Waddon Pete 25 May 15 - 05:51 AM
Sandra in Sydney 25 May 15 - 11:38 AM
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Subject: Obit: Peter Ellis, Australia May 2015
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 23 May 15 - 11:54 AM

Peter Ellis, so long to a mate

Friends, colleagues and mates around the world agree, with the passing of Peter Ellis OAM, Bendigo has lost a national treasure.

"Peter was passionate about dance, music, photography and the environment , and watching him tend his interests, like a juggler with 100 different objects in the air, was a sight to behold," friend John Williams said.

In his 70th year, Peter was known for his casual approach to the niceties but he always insisted his tea pot be adorned with a suitable tea cosy, at all times.

He enjoyed a glass of wine with friends, hunting up the history of folkore, dance and music, and nothing better than a walk in the bush.

Peter is regarded as one of the leading collectors and presenters of traditional dance tunes, dances and musical instruments in Australia. At the 2005 National Folk Festival it was announced by Robyn Holmes that he has the largest selection of dance related material collected in the National Library Archives in Canberra, collected over many years, with mates like the late John Meredith (AM), Shirley Andrews (AM), Rob Willis and Dave Di Santi among others.

He literally travelled Australia collecting, and had extensive field recordings from Western Australia and Tasmania in addition to his Victorian collection.

Most of his recording has been in North Western and central Victoria. Peter collected a lot of material from Harry McQueen (Castlemaine), who played in dance bands for over sixty years in central Victoria. Harry had a number of tunes from Bill McGlashan who had taken Harry under his wing as a young man. Through Peter's efforts much valuable material and knowledge from almost a century ago was saved for posterity.

As a charter member and life member of the Bush Dance and Music Club of Bendigo and the Victorian Folk Music Club, a member of the famous Wedderburn Old Timers Band for over 28 years (two platinum and several gold recordings in that time), founder and leader of the Emu Creek Bush Band (29 years old in 2010), and creator of the 'Friday Night at the Spring Gully Hop' single CD, Peter has been a driving force in the local band and live music scene.

Turning his attention to ensuring the music he unearthed would not be forgotten or let lay idle again, under his guidance three double CDs called "Quadrille Mania" which contain many rare dances and tunes which have been learnt and recorded were produced, and a triple CD called "Take Me Back to Bendigo", composed of heritage songs and music from the Gold Rush to Federation.

These CDs show the multicultural heritage in Bendigo and include music and groups from the Koorie, Chinese, Cornish, German, Irish, Italian, Scots, English and Welsh communities of Bendigo and district. Upon his recovery of costs Peter has handed over copyright to the Bendigo Community so future profits go back into the community.

Three double CDs called "The Merry Country Dance" with dances and tunes going back to the time of Governor Lachlan Macquarie's Ball in 1804. Most of the tracks are performed by Emu Creek following much practice under Peter's tutelage. For further authenticity Peter liaised with other musicians to record some tracks which were revived from almost two hundred years ago and have now been recorded using the instruments of the time. There is an accompanying book which will become the 'Bible' for anyone interested in social dance in Australia.

Other CDs include Bush Concert recordings (Vol 1 Goornong), Cooee, Songs of the ANZACs' 2CD set in conjunction with the Bendigo Historical Society, Music of the Diggings" (4 tracks by Peter or Emu Creek), and many more guest appearances."

Emu Creek Bush Band has performed at National Folk Festivals in four states and numerous times at the National Folk Festival in Canberra. They have also been mainstays of the Maldon Folk Festival for most of its history as well as doing dance programs for the Port Fairy Folk Festival on two occasions.

Peter has written and published many books related to traditional music and dance. These include

Three volumes of "Collectors Choice" which is musical notations for bush dances coupled with much dance history which would have been lost without Peter's efforts, are "Two Hundred Dancing Years-How to run a Colonial Ball" (co-authored with Shirley Andrews (A.M.), "Music Makes Me Smile- The music of the Nariel Valley" (co-authored with Harry Gardner), and his last completed book is titled "The Merry Country Dance" with over three hundred pages of social history, recipes and dance instructions. It was completed with the assistance of a Victorian Government Heritage Grant. The first edition sold out in only a few weeks.

Peter taught old time musicianship, accomplished as he was on the concertina and button accordion, tin whistle, and harmonica, as well as the Swanee whistle, piano and ukulele.

In demand for workshops in music and dance at National Folk Festivals in Perth, Alice Springs, Maleny, Melbourne, Adelaide, Kuranda and more recently at several Canberra National Folk Festivals, he was a hit at festivals across the country.

As a trained ballroom dance, with many gold medals to his name, Peter passed on his knowledge every time he trained debutante sets in the Bendigo district.

As an early environmentalist, he was a life member of the Bendigo Field Naturalists Club, secretary in the 1970s and actively involved in campaigns to save Lake Pedder and establish the Whipstick and Kamarooka State Parks (now part of the Bendigo National Park). He has discovered and named new plant species in the Whipstick Forest and propagated many Australian plants. Peter took regular guided tours through the Whipstick each spring, on wild flower educational tours. He was a keen and gifted photographer of local plant species.

When Peter received his Order of Australia Medal it was one of his proudest moments. He couldn't resist wearing it on every occasion.

Funeral details

Family, friends and his supporters will farewell Peter Ellis OAM with a service of thanksgiving at Mulqueen Family Chapel, 15-25 Bridge Street, Bendigo, from 11am on Monday.


RIP, Peter we'll miss you


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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Ellis, Australia May 2015
From: JennieG
Date: 23 May 15 - 06:49 PM

Peter was a wonderful player, and an amazing dancer - the best bloke I ever had the good fortune to waltz with, bar none.

I have a fun memory of him playing harmonica in a 'band mix-up' concert at Kiama several years ago, his 'band' played "Wild Thing" was a hoot!

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Ellis, Australia May 2015
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 25 May 15 - 05:51 AM

A great man and a great loss. My condolences to all who know and love him. I have added his name to the "In Memoriam" thread.



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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Ellis, Australia May 2015
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 25 May 15 - 11:38 AM

thanks, Pete

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