Industry [A-F]

 Venues, Businesses, Community Groups and Industry Opportunities

All entries are for the Armidale district unless otherwise noted.



(1914 – )


The Armidale Bowling Club was organised in 1914 to provide a social and sporting base for the people of Armidale and surrounding areas. The club’s first official meeting was held on 30 September that year, and by the end of the year the Club’s members agreed to buy an acre of land in Dumaresq Street. The Club has been situated on that site ever since. 

The Bowling Club rarely served as a venue for rock or alternative-type bands during the pub rock era but was it was occasionally hired by local high schools for dances and formals. Although disco’s were sometimes organised, more often than not local bands were hired to play in the Club’s auditorium. Among the Armidale bands known to have played there was Shoot the DJ (Duval High, 1983). 

Kelsey playing the Armidale Bowling Club (ca. 1975)
Source: Clay Djubal (2009) • Unlocking Regional Memory: NSW Electronic Regional Archives – Armidale (online).



(1951 – )

The history of the Armidale Ex-Services Memorial Club begins shortly after World War One,  when the local Sub-Branch of the Returned Services League (RSL) established its headquarters in the Soldiers Room at the Literary Institute. Following World War II another services organisation, the Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women, acquired a derelict building in Dumaresq Street. Then known as the ‘old steam laundry’, the premises was well over 100 years old and had previously operated as Richardson’s Flour Mill, a skating rink and dance palais. 

The Armidale Ex-Services Club was founded in 1951, and three years later the Armidale Legion Branch transferred ownership of the premises to the newly formed Club. Interestingly the Club was forced to trade without a liquor licence until 1955. It was only after it first liquor licence was granted that extensions were able to be made to the Club. Further extensions and renovations occurred in 1958, 1960, 1963, 1972, 1979 and 1996. 

The Club’s multi-purpose Auditorium, with a seating capacity of 1000 patrons, was largely used for ‘club-style’ entertainments during the pub rock era. Some of the acts did fall within the live entertainment parameters of this research archive, however, although these were almost exclusively Australian or international touring acts (Jon English is one of the big Australian acts remembered playing the ‘Ex-Servies’ in the late 1970s). With little doubt the most popular local band to play the Auditorium between 1976 and December 1981 was Aquarius. The band’s repertoire initially comprised classic late 1950s/early 1960s rock ‘n’ roll songs,  but later included material from the late 1960s (notably The Beatles) and 1970s, making it popular with the thirties-something demographic that frequented the Club.  After Aquarius played its final gig (at the Ex-Services Club”) on New Year’s Eve 1981, two members – Ray Wilson and Peter Stanley – formed Ray and Peter, a duo which effectively established a tradition at the club for ‘unplugged-style’ acts to entertain patrons while eating, drinking and playing the pokies. Another local band which played the Auditorium during the 1970s was the Armidale Bush Band.  While the Ex-Services Club did not encourage or promote local youth-orientated ‘rock’ bands, it did sometimes serve as alternative venue for local high school formals. One of those bands currently known to have played such gigs was Shoot the DJ (1983). 

The Belgrave Twin Cinema is located on the Club’s premises, but is operated by the University of New England Union. 

Sources: Armidale Ex-Services Memorial Club (online) • Clay Djubal (2009) • Aquarius band bio courtesy of Ray Wilson (thanks to Brian and Tricia Moore) • Rod Noble (interview, Jan. 2010).



Sometime around 1978-1979 the Wicklow Hotel (Armidale) began hosting informal folk music nights and bush dances. The gatherings brought together numerous local musicians and groups who performed folk songs, bush ballads and traditional Irish and English songs. Among those associated with the folk scene at this time were the Ragweed Reelers (later Captain Pugwash), Patterson’s Curse,  the Boorolong Bush Band and the duo Gaz and Clel.  Another local musician associated with the folk and bush music genres was Laurie Dell who built up a collection of traditional music after having travelled extensively through western Queensland as part of his working career. A competent performer on fiddle, accordion and mouth organ, Dell sadly passed away in October 1979. 

The Armidale Folk Club formalised in 1979, with Barry McDonald elected its first president. The club subsequently began organising folk nights and bush dances on alternate Friday nights. 

Source:  Michael Smithson. ‘Bush Music.’ Neucleus 3 Sept. (1979), p.14  •  Michael Smithson. ‘Bush Music.’ Neucleus 15 Nov. (1979), p.14.



(1927 – )

The Armidale Golf Club was established on 23 May 1899, with the links initially bordering Dumaresq Creek near the town centre. Following several severe floods the club negotiated with the Armidale Jockey Club to build a new course at the racecourse. Membership eventually grew to the point where a new site was required, and in 1927 the club purchased for the land on which the club is now situated for £1,000. Play commenced on the new course on June 4, 1928. 

Although the Golf Club presented more live bands than any other club in Armidale during the pub rock era, these were generally irregular. The club’s management also went through phases where it marketed itself to the general Armidale community as a rock venue and at other times restricted the entertainment to members and guests only. These changes in policy, often brought about either by the Club members changing policy or as knee-jerk reactions to ‘incidents,’ gave the Club a poor reputation with bands and tour managers for a long time.  

Shane at the Armidale Golf Club (ca. 1972) L-R: Brad Dunham, Wayne Yoemans, Brian ‘Lanky’ Moore, Bob Lane, Nobby Osbourne

The ramifications for bands dealing with inexperienced venue management can be seen in what happened to Tony Dean, owner/manager of popular Beatles tribute band The Beatnix. When the band played the venue in mid-1983 (with local band Shoot the DJ as support), the auditorium was so packed the club had to turn away people. Buoyed by the turnout Dean negotiated a new deal for their return appearance – one which would see the band take all the admission receipts rather than a flat fee. Sometime prior to the second show, however, a fight had broken out in the club between some ‘townies’ and management reverted back to a members and guests only policy. Dean subsequently lost a large amount of money when barely a hundred people turned up.  

Source: Source: Clay Djubal (2009) • Unlocking Regional Memory: NSW Electronic Regional Archives – Armidale (online). Image: Golf Club photo by Clay Djubal (2010) • Shane photo courtesy of Brian Moore.†



(1920 -)

Established in 1920, and situated on the south side of Armidale, AHS  was the town’s only state secondary institution until 1976, when Duval High was established on the north side. The school has a non-selective enrolment policy and has catered for upwards of 600 students from Years 7 to 12. Among the more notable past students are entertainer Peter Allen, Australian Green’s leader Bob Brown, novelist/poet David Foster and television lifestyle presenter Brendan Moar.

During the 1970s and 1980s Armidale High School had a strong reputation for producing quality music students, but as was common for the times the school’s music department had no time or interest in popular music genres, and hence played almost no part in advancing the local industry or musicians. As a former AHS music student Rod Clay can testify that any attempt to incorporate contemporary music genres into performances or listening was treated with contempt.  

During the 1970s and 1980s the school invariably produced at least one or two bands each years. Among those which formed during the mid-1970s included Elsess and Blue Max.  Many local bands also played at the school throughout those years, including some of those from De La Salle/O’Connor and Duval high schools.   

Shane playing an Armidale High School dance circa 1972.
Source: Clay Djubal (2010). Images: Armidale High School photo by Patrick [*] courtesy of the Armidale High School Facebook page • Shane photo courtesy of Brian Moore†



(ca. 1988 – 2006)

With opportunities for emerging local bands made more difficult following the demise in 1988 of the UNE Bistro (University of New England) as one of Armidale’s more important rock venues, Jon Anderson, Peter ‘Groover’ Makeham and Richard Rummery conceived and put into action The Musicians’ Club. The venture found a home in the Armidale Club (established in 1972 as the Gentleman’s Club) which is situated at 91 Beardy Street.  The running of the Musician’s Club was later taken up primarily by Jon Anderson, who also operated Wattamega Sound and hence was able to supply sound and lighting equipment for any bands which needed it.  

Jon Anderson †

The Club’s manifesto was to support the art of live performance, whatever the music genre or style of band. Hence acts over the years have ranged from experimental electro to traditional rock and most genres in between. When Anderson effectively retired from the industry in late 2006 the Musicians’ Club’s reputation was such that the Armidale Club continued to support Armidale’s alternative music scene in its own right. 

Acts to have played at the Club include  Ed Kuepper, Kate Miller-Heidke, local performers like Lissa Kathe and the Great Unknown Band, and even overseas bands (including some from Canada and Germany). 

AMC logo †

  • To visit the Armidale Musician’s Club homepage go to : The Musician’s Club (q.v.) This site includes a complete listing of acts to have played at the Club since November 1994.
  • To visit the Armidale Club’s MySpace page go to : The Armidale Club (q.v.)
Sources: Jon Anderson (correspondence, 2009) • Armidale Musicians’ Club (online). Images: Jon Anderson photo and logo courtesy of the Armidale Musician’s Club • Armidale Club photo by Clay Djubal (2010).




(1882 – )

Armidale School of Arts and Town Hall (ca. late 1800s) †

A two story building built in the Victorian Free Classical Style, the Armidale Town Hall is situated in Rusden Street next to the School of Arts (1863-). It was for almost a hundred years the city’s principal civic venue, hosting community functions and entertainments ranging from civic receptions and meetings, conventions and public lectures through to weddings, theatrical productions and a wide variety of concerts (including jazz, country and western, rock and classical). Arguably the most popular touring performer to play the Town Hall during the 1960s and 1970s was Slim Dusty (along with his wife Joy McKean). 

In the early to mid-1970s, prior to the availability of entertainment spaces such as the UNE Bistro, Great Hall and Imperial Hotel, the Town Hall was booked a number of emerging rock bands. Among these were the Ted Mulry Gang, Hush, Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons, SherbetChain, Ol’ 55 and Radio Birdman (which played support to the Sydney band Siren. The venue was also utilised by Cold Chisel during its 1974 Armidale hiatus. Bands from the Northern Tablelands and other nearby regions also occasionally played the Town Hall, including Lismore outfit Aleph in 1976 (with support act George Forsyth).  

Even international acts sometime played the Town Hall. Local residents Tom Hruza and Steve Grigg recall a memorable double bill from the early-mid 1970s comprising blues legend Bo Diddley and Jeff St John,  one of Australia’s finest ever soul/rock singers (then playing with his new line-up the Jeff St John Band). According to Hruza and Grigg, Diddley and St John joined forces at the end of the night and completely blew the audience away. St John was raging across the stage doing wheelies in his wheelchair while Diddley was playing his guitar so hard he broke all but two of his strings – but still kept playing anyway. St John’s entry in Milesago indicates that the Diddley/St John tour was either late 1972 or early 1973. Other overseas acts remembered by residents to have played the Town Hall in the 1970s were Fairport Convention and the Hot City Bump Band.   

One of the interesting aspects of the Town Hall is that the Folk Museum backs up flush with the right-hand wall. Thus anyone lacking the funds to see bands, but who had agility and a bit of upper-body strength, could climb up a drainpipe in the gap between the Museum and the Library and then clamber up on to Museum’s roof and watch the gig for free. An additional bonus was that you could bring your own grog and other music appreciation essentials without fear of being thrown out or arrested. 

The interior of the Town Hall was renovated in the Art Deco style in 1990 by the Armidale City Council. 


Sources: Armidale Self-Guided Heritage Walk (online) • Clay Djubal (2009) • Tom Hzuza and Steve Grigg (interview, Aug. 2010). Brian Moore (telephone interview, Jan. 2010) • ‘Jeff St John,’ Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975 (online) • Sydney Mechanics School of Arts – Armidale (online) . Images: Top photo courtesy of Sydney Mechanics School of Arts – Armidale (online) • Aleph advertisement, Neculeus 19 July (1976), p. 21. • Other photos by Clay Djubal (2010).




Designed by architect Charles Bohringer (who also designed the Capitol Theatres at Tamworth, and Wagga Wagga, along with Melbourne’s Old State Theatre), the venue was opened in 1925 as the Theatre Royal. It was renamed the Capitol in 1928 after being converted into a cinema. 

While almost exclusively a film exhibition venue from 1928 onwards, the Capitol did present the occasional live concert. It has been reported, for example, that Roy Orbison played there sometime in the 1960s.  

Although the Capitol was closed down in 1983, cinema was kept alive in Armidale by a volunteer community group called ‘Friends of the Cinema.’  Films were subsequently shown at the University of New England until 1995 when the UNE Union and the Armidale Ex-Services Club joined forces to build the Belgravia Twin Cinema. 

Sources: Armidale Self-Guided Heritage Walk (online) • Clay Djubal (2009)




The original building on the site of the Club Hotel was constructed in 1876 and called the Robert Burns Hotel (after the Scottish poet). Known between 1878 and 1888 as Armidale No. 2, it was finally established as The Club (aka Club Hotel) in 1889.  

Club Hotel †

The Club did not host regular live music during the 1970s and 1980s, with there being no purpose built entertainment area or stage. A popular watering hole for local bikies, the  hotel was notorious for many years, however, as being the best place to acquire illicit substances. The word had apparently travelled as far away as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne – largely through ex-pat Armidalians – making it a popular stop for a certain type of traveller. 

One of the most infamous incidents in the hotel’s history happened in 1985 shortly after the hotel had decided to try building business with Sunday afternoon entertainments. The band on that afternoon was The Zip.  Not long into its second set the band was forced to take cover when an altercation between two patrons ended up turning into a wild west style brawl involving dozens of patrons (men and women). With no stage to protect them the band then had to muscle up with friends to push the brawlers away from their equipment. Meanwhile the police appeared to be thoroughly enjoying  the show as they waited outside for things to subside. The Club’s management not surprisingly decided to return to normal trading conditions for a (long) time afterwards. 

The Club Hotel was renamed the White Bull in 2006, and re-branded as an up-market family orientated bistro. 

Sources: Clay Djubal (2009) •  White Bull Hotel (online). Image: Photo courtesy of G’day Pubs (online).



(1881 – )

The Coachwood and Cedar was built in 1881 as the Great Northern Hotel. Originally built as a single story establishment, a second floor was added in 1904. At that time the name  was changed to the Commercial Hotel. The heritage-listed building comprises red Uralla brick walls with the external cornerstones (quoins) constructed with Uralla granite. The second floor balcony features an iron lace balustrade. 

During the 1970s and 1980s the Coachwood and Cedar was a key venue for live entertainment in Uralla. While the type of acts booked there ranged across most genres, including rock/pop and jazz, arguably the most popular were the bush and folk bands. Some of these groups were the Armidale Bush Band (1977 only), Patterson’s CurseBoorolong Bush Band and the Ragweed Reelers (later Captain Pugwash). 

Source: Uralla Visitor Information (online).



aka The Jampot Coffee Lounge / The Coffee Shop / The Walnut Tree

(ca. 1971 – )  

Situated in Marsh Street opposite the St Kilda Hotel, the Coffee Shop was established in the early 1970s by the Uniting Church. In addition to the typical cafe style fare the establishment served as a place for local folk, blues and jazz artists to play (for free). It also held  regular “Jampot” sessions during the early to mid-1970s. Other  music opportunities included songwriting competitions and bush music weekends (the first was held over 28-29 October 1972). In 1973 Apex (along with each of the Armidale service clubs) organised the Creeklands Fun Festival (7 April). Some of the proceeds from the fund-raising went to the Coffee House (along with the Police Boys Club and further development of the Creeklands). 

The Coffee House played a significant role in assisting the musical development of Armidale, Uralla and Guyra musicians in the 1970s and early 1980s. As Armidale musician Phil James recalls, its popularity was especially evident after the local pubs closed at 10 pm.  Those wanting to continue socialising (especially on Friday and Saturday nights) had basically only three options – going back to someone’s private residence; trying to get in to to one of the local clubs, typically the Bowling Club or the Golf Club (and both invariably required membership and had short hair rules for males), or the Coffee House.  James recalls that after the pubs closed people many people would head to the Coffee House via Ray’s Inn (then situated at the corner of Beardy and Marsh Streets) for takeaway food. It often remained open past 12 pm, thereby providing an additional couple of hours of (free) entertainment. The operators also provided a basic food and beverage menu. Many different types of youths – the ages ranging from mid-late teens through to mid-20s – would frequent the Coffee House, including gangs from all three towns. There were never any fights inside, however, as the place was treated by all as neutral territory. That didn’t stop young men from meeting outside to settle their differences, however.

What the Coffee House provided, says James, was the chance to play in front of 40-50 people, Jamming was always common, but eventually many of the musicians began working out songs to play, and this led to repertoires, which in some instances led to bands forming. Brian Moore also recalls that a number of these bands later went on to play at the town’s venues like the Imperial Hotel, the UNE Bistro, the Club Hotel and the St Kilda (directly across the road from the Coffee House). It was uncommon to find musicians from within the various town gangs forgetting past rivalries to jam and perform with each other. According to some former patrons the mixture of tension and musical release was what made the Coffee House special. 

The most popular music genres performed by musicians at the Coffee House were initially bush music and contemporary pop and rock covers, but Phil James indicates that the influence of blues-influenced bands like Bogislav can’t be under-estimated. ‘Blues became a major genre,’ he says. ‘Bogislav showed that you could slow the tempo down and not only create interesting music but the musicians could develop their technique more effectively, rather than just blasting out notes.’

The former Coffee House (from the rear carpark) 

While later proprietors or operators of the Coffee House have not yet been identified, the establishment continued to serve as a meeting place for musicians up until at least the mid-1980s. In later years it was known as The Walnut Tree. From the early to mid-1990s onwards the building was taken over by several commercial operators including, for example, The Flying Duck Tapas Restaurant (2005-07). Owned and operated by Armidale photographer and chef Heather Grigg, ‘the Duck’ hit local heqadlines when in 2006 it became runner-up in Rove’s “My Restaurant Sucks” competition – Ten Network).  

Source: Clay Djubal (2010) •  Phil James (interview, Aug. 2010) • Brian Moore (interview, Aug. 2010) • Neucleus (1972-1973).  Image: ‘Notices,’ Neucleus 13 June (1972), p. 16.  Photo by Clay Djubal (2010).       



aka Kelly Plains/Dangarsleigh CWA Hall

Although referred to in a number of commercial websites as a town or village, Dangarsleigh, as with nearby Kelly’s Plains, would be today more accurately called a rural locality. The parish of Dangarsleigh itself is home to around a hundred people, with the major industries being agriculture, forestry and fishing. It is located some 12 kilometres south of Armidale, and approximately 18 kilometres north-east of Uralla. The main roads through the area are Dangarsleigh, Dangars Falls, Enmore and Elliots roads. The area, which is roughly 1021 metres above sea level, is named after the surveyor and pastoralist Henry Dangar.  

Set up for 2007 wedding †

The Dangarsleigh Hall  is situated on Dangarsleigh Road and is administered by the Country Women’s Association. It has long been used by the local community  for school concerts, dances, balls and weddings. The building was originally used as a girl’s Catholic School at Hillgrove before being transported to its current site. In its pre-1970s heyday the hall was used sometimes as often as once a fortnight for dances. 

During the 1970s and 1980s the hall also served as an alternative venue to Puddledock Hall for Armidale-based community organisations wanting to hold fund-raising events. Often these involved the hiring of Armidale bands. It is believed, however, that as with Puddledock the Dangarsleigh community placed an indefinite  ban on non-local events there in response to anti-social and destructive behaviour by guests at event in 1983 at which Shoot the DJ was the main band. Damage to the hall included the destruction of the its piano, which had been tipped off the stage by a group of drunk ‘townies.’ 

Sources: ABC New England North-West NSWCountry Halls, Dangarsleigh (q.v.) • Clay Djubal (2009) • Richard Torbay (Member for Northern Tablelands) website (media release 13 Dec. 2005). Image: Photo by Jo Grieve (courtesy of the ABC, Opp Cit.).



(1975 – ?)

Earth and Sky productions is believed to have been founded sometime in 1975 by University of new England students Terry McArthur and Dave Forge. Initially conceived as a music entertainment operation (booking agency, artist management and promotions etc), Earth and Sky is recorded in Neucleus as having been involved in bringing Split Enz to UNE in early 1975 (11 Mar). Another event managed by McArthur and Forge that same year was the Aleph/George Forsyth concert at the Armidale Town Hall (24 July). 

By mid-1976 Earth and Sky had also branched out into organic food distribution, setting up operations out of the University of New England Union complex. 

Sources: Neucleus 17 March (1976), p. 18; 9 June (1976), p. 26; and 19 July (1976), p. 26. Image: Aleph advertisement. Neucleus 19 July (1976), p. 21. 


Further Reference 

  • ‘Armidale: Gateway to Educational Pleasure.’ Neucleus 1 Feb. (1979), pp.49-51. 


Copyright for this image has either not been ascertained or we have been unable to locate the owner . If you are the copyright owner and want the image removed please contact this website. To see HGWT and the NTMIA’s copyright statement go to the “About the Northern Tablelands Music Industry Archive” page. 



Northern Tablelands Music Industry Archive

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