The Back Block Bards Campaign literally began as a Dining Table discussion in Hillston, NSW in late 2017. It was decided that members of the Vagg & Parker families combine their collective works of bush poetry from over the years into a self-published book, the proceeds from which would be donated to fund Research into Younger Onset Dementia, as a close family member had been diagnosed with the disease.
2017: The Back Block Bards were formed and began compiling and editing ‘Back Block Bards – A Collection of Bush Verse By Bush Bards’, a 156 page book featuring 56 poems by 8 authors.
August 2018: We began our relationship with Dementia Australia Research Foundation (DARF), as the premier body coordinating Research in the country. We also printed our first run of Back Block Bards books.
13th October 2018: We officially launched our book and campaign at a Book Launch & Art Exhibition event at the Hillston Ex-Servicemen's Club. Approximately 300 people attended a fantastic night, with over $22,000 being raised on the night to kick-start the campaign. Former Western Lands Commissioner Geoff Wise officially opened the Campaign and spoke wonderfully.
December 2018: We made our first donation to DARF of $30,000, raised from book sales and sales of artworks on Launch night.
January 2019: We were humbled to win the Carrathool Shire Australia Day Award for "Community Event of the Year" for our Book Launch and Art Exhibition Night in Hillston.
April - October 2019: We undertook the start of the 'Back Block Tour!', travelling and reciting poetry and entertaining audiences at various Events and Festivals across NSW. These events included Casino Beef Week, Hungerford Field Day, Barellan Good Old Days Festival, Hay Yard Dog Trial, TriState Car Rally and others.
August 2019: We were fortunate to be included as part of the ABC TV's BackRoads program with Heather Ewart, where we were able to tell our story as part of the 'Riverina' Episode.
August 2019: We were able to make another donation to DARF, taking our total amount donated to $50,000.
October 2019: We took our total amount donated to DARF to $75,000.
January 2020: DARF announced that the 'Back Block Bards Research Project' would be running throughout 2020, run by Dr Patricia Opazo, as part of their Research Grants offered. This project is looking into the biological relationships of Synaptic Reserve, which could possibly be harnessed as a means to delay the onset of Dementia. This project is still ongoing today.
February 2020: As Covid had restricted our ability to tour and perform, Jon and Allan recorded our debut CD ‘Circle Work In The Carpark’ with a live audience at “Wangaroa”, with some of their most requested and some brand new poems.
September 2020: We took our total amount donated to DARF to $100,000
February 2021: We will be running our first Poetry Writing Workshop at Balranald, as part of a wider project being coordinated by South West Arts. Please contact us for more details.
Present Day: The Back Block Bards campaign is still going strong! We hope to be able to get out for more performances soon. We really do appreciate every bit of support we receive. Please enjoy!