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Archive of Natural and Everyday Australian Sounds (ANEAS)

Archive of Natural and Everyday Australian Sounds (ANEAS)

Project Outline
(all sections should be considered incomplete)


  1. Background and Outline
  2. Gauge Wider Interest
  3. Develop Key People register
  4. Develop a strategy to correct this imbalance
  5. Obtain funding for research and publication
  6. Undertake research and collection
  7. Undertake documentation and publication
1 Background and Outline
I've been concerned for some time about what appears to be a gap in the systematic archiving of Australian natural and everyday sounds. It was a surprise for me to learn that this important area of our heritage seems to be somewhat underrepresented at NFSA, where I presume such a collection would naturally reside. While they do have some recordings, a somewhat informal investigation on my part has revealed no systematic or coordinated effort in this regard either by NFSA or other institutions - either in the collection or documentation, which from a public and users perspective amounts to the same thing.
2 Gauge Wider Interest - Importance of Australian Heritage
Ascertain whether there is an interest in support for ANEAS and if so, to what extent. I have had some initial communication with a few key people. I've received very positive feedback, with general acknowledgement that such a collection is important.Materials available
Since the commercial availability of tape-recorders following WWII, a number of persons have been making NEAS recordings who are now coming to the end of their working life and, unless something is done about it organisationally, I fear much of the material will be lost for posterity. I am most familiar with the composers (eg David Lumsdaine and Ron Nagorcka) who have spent a lifetime recording Australian birdsong, whose recordings will not be included in their NLA music archives, but a wider gamut is clearly logical and appropriate, including the CSIRO holdings at Gungahlin, Foley libraries of film, TV and AV production houses, such material a captured incidentally in NLA's oral history collection, and a myriad of others from birding clubs, sound recording groups etc. NFSA staff have indicated that they do have some related recordings however they are not catalogued, or perhaps not in a publicly available way.

  • The material is widely scattered and will require a concentrated effort to develop a workable strategy. Lumsdaine, for example, has an extensive library of his own wide geographically and temporally dispersed bird recordings, mainly oscines and sub-oscines. He indicated that he was not concerned with preserving the original recording media but with the contents and found the Australian institutional bureaucracy difficult to deal with so he has just lodged a large number of edited recordings with the British Museum.
  • Bird recordings held at CSIRO Mitchell have been mainly collected for analysis purposes, often on non-commercial analogue equipment. When I inquired about it for other purposes about a decade ago, the material was and considered to be in a precarious state; the specialist machinery and many of the recordings are in an unknown state of repair.
  • Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA) have published a 10-CD identification guide to Australian Birdcalls, including a number of recordings by key individuals. BOCA and Bird Australia are currently in amalgamation talks and if it happens, as appears likely, it will make interaction with a large number of amateur and professional "bird people" much easier to interact with.
  • NLA has a collection of recordings, such as those undertaken by their Aural History Unit, and report that these recordings have many historically interesting everyday sounds.
3 Develop Key People register
In our research and collecting institutions:

  • Mathew Davies, Vincent Plush, Carla Teixeira (NFSA),
  • Kevin Bradley, Robyn Holmes (NLA),
  • Louise Douglas (NMA),
  • Ken Johnson (geography), Bob Gingold (ANUSF), Chris Bryant (Science Communication), Chris Gregory (Anthropology), Niven Stines (music)
  • NSTC (Questacon)

In music and the public sphere:

  • Robyn Archer, John Davis (AMC), Dick Letts (MCA), David Lumsdaine, Ron Nagorcka, Sarah Last, Warren Burt
  • Commercial and Public Interest: Radio, TV, APRA, ACMA, etc
4 Develop a strategy to correct this imbalance
Following preliminary informal investigations, meetings are planned with NFSA, Canberra Festival (Archer) and the Fed. Dept. (Garrett) to explore Arts/Heritage/Environment synergies.
5 Obtain funding for research and publication

  • I'm currently undertaking this investigation purely 'off my own bat' at the moment, although I recognise that a more formal approach resulting in a report with recommendations will need to eventuate.
  • As a volunteer organisation, BOCA/Birds Australia has no substantial funding of its own but can support applications and mobilise interested amateurs.
  • Gauge commercial interest in involvement
6 Undertake research and collection
7 Undertake documentation and publication
Include public presentation, such as on WWW and via touring installations and display events.



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