Back Block Bards raises $27,000 for dementia research

A book launch and art exhibition in Hillston on Saturday 13 October was a great success raising more than $27,000 for research into younger onset dementia.

The book, Back Block Bards - A Collection of Bush Verse by Bush Bards, was written and published by extended members of the Vagg and Parker families from the Hillston/Ivanhoe district, in south western NSW.

A spokeswoman for the group, Mary Vagg, said the sole purpose of compiling the book was as a fundraiser for the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, as one of the family members, still only in her mid 50’s, has been in full time care in Griffith for 4 years due to dementia.

“Maurice (Moc) Parker, one of the authors, did an amazing job as MC, entertaining the crowd of more than 350”, Ms Vagg said. “He was ably assisted by Victorian musicians, Rachel Maruff and Gav Munro from Victoria and the poetry recitals by the poets.”

Former Western Lands Commissioner Geoff Wise officially launched the book. In an inspiring oration, Mr Wise told the crowd that he’d observed what country people achieved by working with the strengths of each individual in the community.

“Despite severe drought throughout the Hillston district, and a town population of only 1,400 people, $27,000 was raised on the night. A huge achievement”, he said.

As well as the book, the launch involved the sale of the majority of 28 artworks by Joan Vagg and a variety of other activities. Local auctioneer, Peter Fisk from Rawlinson and Brown, created huge interest in the “Window to the Outback” quilt created by Mrs Vagg. The hammer fell at $3,500. The auction of the first book raised an additional $520.

Further fund raising activities will continue until April 2020.


The book, Back Block Bards - A Collection of Bush Verse by Bush Bards, is currently available for purchase. Please visit to order your copy today. You can follow the achievements of the Black Blocks Bards team on their website or at

The Back Blocks Bards team also featured on ABC's Back Roads (Series 5, Episode 8), which can be viewed at

Pictured: Back Block Bards Book team - John Vagg (Roto), Allan Vagg (Hillston), Graham Vagg (Ivanhoe), Joan Vagg (Hillston), Heather Frewin (Tooraweenah), Maurice (Moc) Parker (Hungerford), Mary Vagg (Gundaroo).

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