Now this book is a cracker, printed in 1951 to commemorate the 50th year of Federated Australia.

Fantastic Design, awesome graphics, amazing history of progress and development.
Bit light on in beer drinking stories, but otherwise pretty good read.

Available worldwide through www.abe.com

There are also later versions available: Australia (1957) and The Nation of the Southern Cross (1958)

They are all valuable, so get them while They're cheap.

The measure of the years

Amazing read if you are into the mind of 50s Australia.

They broke the mould after old Pig-iron Bob, his humour and wit was as dry and innocent as Australia itself.

He was in love with the queen.


A bit hard going, but what a guy. He was defeated in 1949 by Bob Menzies, but started the Snowy Mountain scheme, announced the end of the war, launched the first Holden Car and was doing the wild-thing with his secretary whilst doing all of the above.

I am yet to read Curtin, by David Day as well, but I understand is a corker. It's kind of nice to read books about prime ministers who were train drivers and not Lawyers.


Let Stalk Strine

Another great book is of course Let's Stalk Strine, (Let's talk Australian) the 1960s classic by Affabeck Lauder (Alphabetical Order), and contains the ultimate Australian Vernacular.

Behind the Rock

If you only read two books this year -- read this one twice.

Holy Moly. This book is an absolute scorcher. Written by raconteur, Leon Isackson, legendary drummer of the R'Jays (If you've done our quiz, you ought to know who they were (back-up band to the late Dig Richards, Johnny O'Keefe to name but a few)) and his fellow band-mate Jon Hayton (Who I only discovered recentlyhad also passed-on, back in 1995).

This book is a bible to the goings-on during in the Golden Age of Australian Rock'n'roll Culture, from its birth, adolescence, maturity, middle age, and death (When the Beatles burst on the scene and wrote fricken' advertising jingles), and it's resurrection (Thanks Brian Setzer) and Leon should know, as he was there every step of the way, laying down the wicked-beat.

Much like Billy Thorpes' much-heralded memoirs, they offer hysterical anecdotes of life on the road (in an EK Holden) before Rock stars were treated like... well Rock Stars. The sex (with minors!) , the drinking, the wild parties and the orgies, that were in those days pretty much the sole domain of rock'n'rollers and brothel-owners.

The cast-members of this tome include: J'OK; Dig Richards; Col Joye and the Joye Boys; Lonnie Lee (Leon's brother-in-law); Crash Craddock; Digger Revell; Max Merrit and the Meteors; Dinah Lee and half of the Allied Servicemen in Vietnam... nearly all of which make Keith Richards look like a fricken' boy scout.

In fact, not being in-the-know about these things, I'm pretty sure I know how Jon Hayton died, the poor bastard was just worn out from 35 years of perpetual shagging (To that rationale however , Leon ought to have passed away in 1967).

Leon Isackson was one of those interviewed in the ABCs Long Way to the Top (worth seeing), and gave us a pretty good indication of his wit and charm. The book is bloody excellent, but hard to find. There are two versions, the first pretty poorly edited and another with ammendments . It is also published online here. The Good news, is it contains another 'Part" 1966 and beyond.

If it ever gets published in book form I'll let you know.

Guess what! - He Did It!

Leon saw common sense (and obviously aware that a new-wave of Hep is on the rise) and has re-released Behind the Rock WITH parts 2+3 [1966-1981]- titled Behind the Rock and Beyond. The book was launched with great in style in March [which drew a swag of Australian Rock 'n' Roll hep cats and kittens], receiving great reviews and proportionate pubicity.

Being ones for mining the depths of 'hep' we cannot recommend this book highly-enough. When it comes to plumbing the depths of Cool and style - not to mention pioneering Australian post-modern culture - Leon Isackson quite litterally wrote-the- book. (In fact we reckon Leon wrote the world's first self-HEP book)

The book has been published by Sid Harta Publishers and is available on Amazon, and further information, you have got to check out leonisackson.com for more information about the book and the living Legend.

150 gazillion/10

Buried Country

Also a few years back a Great Book by Clinton Walker hit the shelves, called Buried Country, it records the history of Aboriginal Australian Country Music, and is a great read, especially when you consider what these poor folks were going through. There is a CD, video and DVD available too (note to Skinny Tim, what are these things?)


Nothing gives you a taste of Australia in the fifties more than the Barry Humphries Masterpiece Flashbacks, which is out in book form, as well as DVD and Video. Pretty Funny Stuff.

We love Barry Humphries, even though he, Clive James, Robert Hughes and Germaine Grier all feel they can comment on Australia from a flat in London or New York. In future ask us, we know all about it, and we can also tell you how much a pie and chips will cost you at the Bulahdelah Bowlo, unlike the afore-mentioned.

When the man in the gold mustang met the girl from the pink pussycat.

This book by James Cockington is an absolute must.

Here is the synopsis from the back of the book.

" The story of a man, a woman, a time and a place.

Kinds Cross summer 1965. As temperatures rise, the 'glittering mile' blinks on and off. Nightclubs strip clubs and brothels pay host to hot, sweaty nights of drugs, dancing and wild sex.

Fame, glamour, and crime rule the streets.

Everyone wants to be someone, go somewhere... and in the midst of it all, under their own personal spotlights, are Mandy 'Topless' Taylor, Sydney’s most infamous stripper, and Johnny 'Super' Stewart, speedway champion and booze artist extraordinaire.

Call it fate, call it coincidence -- but Mandy and Johnny were destined to meet and their stories destined to be told. In a town that seems to go crazy all at once, this is a real story of passion and fame that burns brightly... and fast."

And it's all true!

We cannot recommend this book highly enough, as it is a real window into the culture existed at the time. It's funny, touching and very very Hep, with references to the music, films and shenanigans of the time. There's a great chapter about a Normie Erskine / Maria Venutti concert, at a pub in Darlinghurst which puts you right in the crowd, amongst the Resches and Marlboros really convincingly.

This book's about ten years old now and has become a real cult classic, so good luck finding a copy.


Also Available is The History of the Australian Slanguage, a serious look at Australian English. Not too bad at all.

You might also want to get your wanking spanners on Remember when, by Bruce Elder. It is a comparison of 1950s Australia and Post-modernism. Some good stuff, as we also reckon Post-modern Australia is a pile of steaming trough-lollies.

The Cover Deign is crap.

But never, ever, forget the film and novel they're a weird mob, it is the greatest Australian film known to man (Skinny Tim and myself) ever known. Check it out. It is excellent. There is also a DVD available too.

I picked up another good book the other day Bastards I have met, by Sam Weller. It's a bit of a strange one really, just lots of yarns and retorts, that he had recalled from throughout the depression, second world war, and of course the fifties. It's not great, but it really puts you back in the time and place, and realise how hard, and fascinating, life actually was in post-war Australia.