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Newport Bush Orchestra

The Newport Bush Orchestra has been running since 2006, first under the leadership of Greg O’Leary, then Neil Jolly.
Dave Isom is now at the helm.
The Orchestra has developed an impressive repertoire of Australian traditional tunes and is expanding the dance sets and song repertoire.
New members are always welcome.
The Orchestra rehearses regularly in Newport and has performed throughout Victoria and at festivals, including the National Folk Festival in Canberra, dances, special events and makes regular appearances around the Hobsons Bay area.

How the orchestra works

The NBO runs on a number of principles that make it different from a classical orchestra:

  • All musicians of all ages are welcome regardless of experience.

  • We encourage learning by ear but written music may be used.

  • Various instruments are welcome but mostly we use traditional instruments such as fiddle (violin) accordion, whistle, mandolin, guitar and banjo.

  • Repertoire is primarily based on Australian dance tunes and Australian folk songs.

Leader: Dave Isom

It has been my pleasure to take over leadership of the Newport Bush Orchestra upon the retirement of Greg O’Leary. I thank Greg for his leadership of NBO over many years, and hope to continue keeping our important Australian/ Anglo/Celtic music tradition alive and flourishing into the future.
I have had a great love of Australian bush and country music since my early teens. At Latrobe University I played with the early Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, founded the L.U. Folk Music Club (1969) and the Original Bushwackers and Bullockies Bush Band (Bushwackers) in 1971. The Bushwackers became the leading exponents of Australian bush music and is still going over fifty years later albeit with no original members left.
Having played, toured and recorded extensively throughout Australia and overseas I am pleased to be able to share my long depth of experience and passion for the Australia Anglo Celtic tradition with our important community group, the Newport Bush Orchestra.


Founder: Greg O'Leary

Greg O'Leary is a fiddler, teacher, session leader and all-round legend of the Australian folk scene. Greg's aim for the Bush Orchestra is to welcome anybody who wants to explore the musical side of their life, but has little experience in playing. As you join in, you will build your skills in a relaxed, enjoyable and non-judgemental environment.

Over the years since the orchestra's formation in 2006, many musicians have benefited from this approach. Originally old Aussie bush tunes were taught by ear to the group in a very quick and effective way that Greg developed.

In later years, Greg introduced a broader repertoire, but maintained the focus on ear training. Greg retired in 2022.


Second and fourth Monday of each month, 7:30 - 9:30pm. See calendar below for exact dates.


Newport Community Hub

13 Mason St Newport (enter via terrace in Paine Reserve)


$100 per 10-week term.
Newcomers are welcome to try - first night free.

Please see our Covid-safe policy for conditions of entry.


Semester 2 payment

Semester 2 fee: $110 (11 sessions @ $10)

Before you pay, please read the message below.

Payment with Paymate

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Tunes - audio

More tunes

Bush Orchestra Charter

This charter was written for the Bush Orchestra in 2010, and its principles still apply.

Download the Charter

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