Talk:Argonauts Club

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Who remembers the Argonauts Club?[edit]

I was Democritus 48 in this Club, and I remember Mac and Jimmy really well, even though I never knew who they really were. I never made it to Serpents Tooth, or Golden Fleece and Bar, but I did make a few contributions. Then TV arrived in our place, and (sigh....) all that high level classical education, and those old-fashioned sing-a-longs (how many times did I hear "Grandfather Clock, and "English Country Garden" and "Old Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.."} well they were replaced by the new medium, brash and shallow as it was, and still is. I remember too the various experts who spoke on Music and Art and Biology, with names like Phidias. Although if my memory serves, the music man was called "Mr Music" and by Jove he was a very serious old codger, and his material was very technical indeed. Remember too the Muddle Headed Wombat, and the long running serials. Also, there would be, every session, a sort of comedy section where Jimmy would get up to one of his schemes and Mac and the two females would have to bring him down to Earth. These were old fashioned values. Jimmy would come up with some wild idea, and the others would show him that it could not work, and he would give up and join the sing a long. Very unfashionable notions, these days. I recall that Mac and Jimmy seemed eternal and timeless. They were there for decades, and their voices never changed. Jimmy, in particular, had a lovely light tenor, and always sounded like he was a man barely twenty years old.

Now, I am interested in filling out this painfully meagre stub on such a popular and long-running radio phenomenon about which many Australians must have fond memories. I am surprised to see that of the thousands of (then) boys and girls who became members of this Club, or just listened to it, so few have shown interest. I am the first to write in this Talk Page, although it's good that someone actually began an article. Earlier today, I added this article to the disambiguation page for "argonaut". Prior to this, anyone who looked at that page would be given lots of leads, but not one to THIS article. Perhaps that is why so few people have found it. I get the feeling that if a Club as worthy and as satisfying as this one had been American it would be packed with info and piccies, and there would be Talk pages galore in archives. It would be good to see Aussies show a little more interest in their history. There is apparently a book in the ABC shops (or was last year) on this club, and I hope to find it and use it to flesh out this article. Perhaps the ABC would be kind enough to give me permission to use some photos.

In the meantime, I would like to hear from anyone who has nostalgic memories of the program. DO members recall their Club names? It's all legitimate stuff because we are trying to piece together a better story of this wonderful part of Australian radio history. Oh how I rowed and rowed Jason's trireme! I rowed fit to bust! And I felt guilty when I deserted the ship on the very first day the TV box came into the lounge room. Oh, and was "The Argonauts Club" the official name? And if so, did it not have an apostrophe in "Argonauts" THis was the ABC after all, and I am The Apostrophe Man when I am not Democritus 48. Myles325a (talk) 07:07, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Offensive drivel[edit]

"Today the "Childrens Hour" and "The Argonauts Club" are (apart from nostalgic past members) frequently regarded as examples of ABC (and baby-boomer) post-war middle-class cosy smugness."

Rubbish. PC nonsense. It was an excellent program. Have a look at the people involved: Roy Kinghorn, Ruth Park, John Meillon, AD Hope, and so on. Jeffrey Smart, for Goodness' sake. This program brought the best of Australian culture to any child with a radio. It was particularly useful for country children. I am going to delete this crap remark. (Phaeton 26) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

No Offence Meant[edit]

I'm sorry you misunderstand the sentence. Yes it WAS an excellent program. The people who ran it had high ideals and high expectations of its members, of which I was one (Tantalus 37). Later I worked for the ABC and saw at first hand the dedication of its people. I cared about the program and still do, which is why I put some effort into the article. BUT. The world has moved on. What worked sublimely in the '40s and '50s is now regarded as quaint. And that was the point of the sentence (and easily referenced). If you read Ida Osbourne's book, you will find she regarded the decade after she left (when you and I were members) as a avalanche of falling standards. 'Twas ever thus. Vale Childrens Session. Vale Argonauts. I won't revert the erasure but someone else might. --Doug butler (talk) 06:08, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

A Soft Answer Turneth Away Wrath[edit]

OK. I must have been a bit cranky when I wrote "crap remark". But, honestly, I had no idea at the time (people were more modest then) what first-rate people were associated with the program. Arguably Australia's most prominent poet of recent times; arguably its most prominent artist; top naturalists, actors and writers. I remember my mother and I agreeing that shortening the program and giving it a more trendy name was the beginning of the end. We had been genuinely challenged by the lofty expectations of the program. In what world should it be regarded as a good thing that children no longer get introduced to classical ideas? To be frank, I think my mother partly wanted me to listen in because she used to (as Ithaca 5, if I recall). In the event I became a scientist. But it is precisely this kind of general culture which people like me needed. I work with young scientists and their ignorance of western culture is deep and I suspect irremediable. (Phaeton 26). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:14, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Ewart's birth / death dates correction[edit]

The list of people asssociated with the Argonauts Club gave John "Jimmy" Ewart's birth date as 1954 with no death date, although the link it supplies clearly records these as 1928 and 1994. I have made the correction. Had Jimmy been born in 1954, he would have been about 12 when I first heard him on the show! Myles325a (talk) 08:48, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

More photos needed[edit]

It's a pity that so few of the pages associated with this Club have photos, especially when these would have such a sentimental and nostalgic appeal, apart from their historical value. There is no photo, for example of Mac himself, the most noteworthy and loved of those who were involved. I wonder if the ABC would be willing to front up with some of these. On a general note, WP would be immensely improved if more people and institutions were willing to give photos and other such material to be used here.

I was pleased to see, though, that significant work has been done on the article, which is shaping up nicely. I do NOT agree, however, that this is an article of "low importance". Myles325a (talk) 08:54, 2 July 2010 (UTC)


I have taken a photo of the cast metal version of Club badge. There is button style badge in National Museum, Canberra which I could photograph next time I'm there, though there may be some bureaucratic impediments. I have all five Annuals, which I will be mining over the next few months, and which include quite a few photos, but no scanner and have not yet mastered the art of inserting jpegs (or even tried). I'm not convinced that importance scale matters at all. I can't see the article getting a deletion notice :) --Doug butler (talk) 23:02, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Great work! I'm sure that your photo of the museum's medal would not rile anyone. Interested to hear about the manuals you own. You could use a scanner in an internet cafe or library. Looking forward to seeing what you have. :) Myles325a (talk) 08:23, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
(email exchange, reproduced without comment) I am helping with a Wikipedia article on "The Children's Hour" and "The Argonauts' Club" radio programmes from the '50's. Can photographs and paraphernalia from this period in my possession be freely reproduced?
Hi Doug,
Thanks for your email. Reproduction of ABC copyright material needs to be licensed through me and license fees are charged. If you are wanting to reproduce ABC copyright photographs on the website, a License Fee of $50 per image for 12 months or $65 per image for 5 years is payable.
Kind Regards,
Elizabeth Ellis | Sales Consultant, Library Sales | ABC Commercial
P 61 2 8333 3040 | F 61 2 8333 3277
ABC Ultimo Centre, Level 3 Building B 700 Harris Street| Ultimo NSW 2007
You can now search the ABC's footage archive online at:
This proposal does not create a legally binding offer or agreement and is subject to the ABC's general Terms and Conditions and the terms of this offer expire 2 weeks from the date of this email.

Hmm....This is disappointing, isn't it? I wonder if there is any appeal to a higher authority? I believe there should be a some kind of general principle adopted by government institutions so as to grant some basic copyrighted material to WP authors for historical purposes. For example, I had the idea of getting schools to run competitions amongst their students to write WP articles on their local school, and local interesting individuals and features. The winning article would be entered under the school's user name with a credit to the responsible student on the Talk Page. Such programs would enhance the literary skills of the students, give some publicity to the local area, and build up the Australian content of WP, which, as it now stands, is not up to scratch compared to the efforts of the Americans, and even New Zealanders. There should be broad community support for the provision of good, well-documented articles on Australiana in WP. Perhaps some historical bodies might support such moves? Myles325a (talk) 09:21, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

John Appleton & Co[edit]

Good rowing, from Palamon 14! Or perhaps I was Palamon 11: my younger brother and I joined at about the same time, circa 1962.

Three decades ago, I decided to write a book about the Argonauts Club, and the ABC Children's Hour, and with a bumptiousness I now find extraordinary, interviewed Paddy Conroy (at the time Director of Young People's Programs), former producer John Appleton, and John 'Jimmy' Ewart. I recorded the latter interviews, and had the Appleton interview transcribed. The Ewart interview material is lost, unfortunately, but I have the Appleton transcript. I've uploaded this transcript and it can read here.

My book did not proceed; I rapidly realised that such a work should be, perhaps only could be, written by an 'insider', as indeed, one eventually was.

My researches in the ABC Archives in 1980 yielded just one box, containing a blank Argonauts Club Award Certificate and an Argonauts Club badge and not much else. I recall Ewart being saddened by hearing this. So was I! Sic transit and all that jazz.

Bluedawe 06:17, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Thank you so much for this absolutely enthralling piece of history that you have saved for over 30 years. I believe that a book on the Argonaut's Club would fill an important spot in the history of Australian radio of the mid-20th century, and be part of an emotional and nostalgic journey for many of our generation who were partly formed by this first class show. And it would be fitting if you were to go ahead and write such a book. Once again, I am grateful, as I'm sure many of us will be, for what you have achieved here, which is to document history which would otherwise be consigned to oblivion. It is frustrating to see, especially on Wikipedia, how subjects that are of far less moment are lovingly and comprehensively documented.
The gulf between what the Argonauts aimed for, and what current children's television programs aim for, grows ever wider. I feel that the shallow, loud, and incessantly manic nature of most of these programs could well be the cause of what appears to be the epidemic of ADHD that characterises many youngsters today, and their short attention spans, their addiction to a constant diet of vicarious excitement and their disinclination to reflect. It seems a lot longer than 40 years ago when I remember the absence of commercialism and the warmth and steady pace of the Argonauts, and the extraordinarily high intellectual standards of its material. As you suggested in your interview, there is no going back to those times, and this provides an even more compelling reason to retrieve and document what information is still extant. Myles325a (talk) 09:58, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
Thank you! But hasn't Rob Johnson done just that, in his The Golden Age of the Argonauts? I confess I haven't read it. I have Elizabeth's Good Rowing, though. I must have a look at The Golden Age. As I get older, though, I have to keep reminding myself of that Poor Richard's Almanac warning: 'The Golden Age was never the present age.'

Bluedawe 10:32, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

I didn't know about these works. I just found [this], and will see if I can get hold of one or both of them. If nothing else, they would be interesting to read (I hope) and provide some material for this page. (But the absence of any free photos seems to always be a big impediment here). Myles325a (talk) 11:08, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

I've started a page "John A. Appleton" (since lumbering him with that initial found his middle initials could have been "E. C.") mostly based on NLA newspaper files, and a few bits from Rob Johnson. Speaking of which, it's an excellent tome. I have a copy if you can't get one from a library.--Doug butler (talk) 13:09, 8 August 2010 (UTC)


"Thales" was a regular commentator on Space Science in the '50s (very topical then) and has a few articles in the Annuals. But I've never come across his "real" name. Any thoughts?--Doug butler (talk) 21:56, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

He's mentioned by John Appleton in Bluedaw's transcribed interview (see above) but his real name is not given there. I'll keep an eye out. Myles325a (talk) 01:35, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
Am halfway through Rob Johnson's excellent "Golden Age of the Argonauts". Thales was Welshman Richard Parry, the show's producer, who retired in 1967. There is a photo of him on page 79. Myles325a (talk) 03:47, 13 August 2010 (UTC)


I have fond memories of the songs sung early in each episode by the whole team. There were a few that were heard many, many times. (How old-fashioned - an actual sing-a-long!). It would be nice to see a list of the evergreens. I remember they often sang the "Grandfather Clock" one, and it was only very recently that I learnt that the instrument in question was actually named AFTER the song and not vice versa. The "English country garden" one always came up, and so did the one with "old Uncle Tom Cobbly and all" in it. It was always good to hear their voices in harmony. I clearly recall Mac's bass in the background of each one. Anyone remember some others? Myles325a (talk) 01:42, 8 August 2010 (UTC)

There was one that went something like "Some old women came to town in my old wagon today/But their groaning made me frown in disappointment and say/No more my wagon will be holding/Old women nattering and scolding/Whoa Neddy Whoa"--Doug butler (talk) 12:42, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
Full words and melody (uncredited and no trace on the Internet, so may have been original) for "The Wagon" can be found in the 1957 Annual, along with "Koymenayo" and "Indian Greeting Song", which I don't remember, again uncredited. 1958 has "Ten Little Argonauts" ["An ex-Argonaut" & Cecil Fraser], The Three Geese" and "A Spanish Rhyme" [E.J Stapleton & E.J.Arnold]. 1959 has "Little Pig" ("Where are you going to you little pig"), "Happiness" (Once I met a pedlar gay Tra-la-la Tra-la-la). 1961 has "Paper of Pins", "Weggis Fair" and "Early One Morning". all uncredited and well remembered.
Another that comes to mind is "Go Tell Aunt Rhody".--Doug butler (talk) 00:17, 15 August 2010 (UTC)


Speaking of remembering the songs as an early segment of each show, serials ended the session. (John Appleton in the transcription says that TV wiped out radio serials but I remember listening to quite a few radio serials, both on this show and on the commercial stations.) One, I recall, had some people, with kids of course, held hostage in a house. It seemed to go on for weeks! Another had to do with a golden boomerang in Broome, or something like that. Anyone recall these? I wonder too whether there are any tapes of these shows that have not been destroyed. Myles325a (talk) 01:49, 8 August 2010 (UTC)


I am surprised to find no mention of Linneaus in this article. I joined the Argonauts in 1963 (lived in Papua at the time), and remained an active member till it dissolved. During this time, the naturalist portion of the program was always presented by "Linneaus". I don't know who he was, but surely mention should be made! (DT Praxiteles 22). Ptilinopus (talk) 02:57, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Radio National has kindly supplied this information: Linnaeus was J R [James Roy] Kinghorn, a zoologist who had worked much of his career at the Australian Museum - you can see his biography at [1]. I have different details for his term as an Argonaut: the ADB has 1961-71, a list compiled by our first Archivist says 1962-69. Doug butler (talk) 22:55, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Muddle-headed Wombat[edit]

This article and the published books all refer to Mouse, the Muddle-headed Wombat, and Tabby Cat. And yet, at least from 1962 (when I began listening the the session) until closure in about 1972, Tabby Cat did not appear in the story on the Children's Hour - it was always Mouse, Aunty Bun and the Muddle-headed Wombat. When did Tabby Cat give way to "Aunty Bun" (a rabbit)? And why is there no mention of it in the article? Ptilinopus (talk) 12:36, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Papuan listener from mid-sixties[edit]

While living in Papua, I sometimes listened to Argonauts and became a member. All I remember about my name was that it started with an A. One episode really stuck with me all these years. Jimmy was sure he was an expert on tea so Mac blindfolded him and tested him with an ordinary store-bought tea, a cup of plain hot water, another with a bit of boot polish, and I don't remember what else. It was hilarious.

Argonauts sang a birthday song that went something like this: Birthdays come but once each year / so I bring this message clear / happy birthday xxxx dear / happy birthday 'til next year.

I remember one kid wrote in that he lived in a flat area of Australia and often saw the sun going down in the west while the moon rose in the east. For some reason that image thrilled me, which is why, of all the letters read, that is the only one that sticks with me.

Not much of a contribution, I admit, but I am glad I stumbled on this talk page.

PastPicker4tA (talk) 21:37, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

Nice memories. Presumably you heard it through Radio Australia, Shepparton, Victoria. Doug butler (talk) 21:59, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

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