Like many a budding musician before him, Harry spent his early years in a conflict between learning what was required of him at school and (more attractively) learning to play a variety of musical instruments.
Harry's father ran a touring variety show which was seen in many of the towns in the Lachlan Valley. All of his family played musical instruments and his mother was a good singer. In fact the whole family was highly visible and active and not only involved with music. For example, most of Harry's uncles were highly respected sportsmen (football and boxing.)
The family hit the road when Harry was quite young, finally arriving in Sydney where he was to learn his musical trade. One of his early tutors was Alan Saunders who introduced him to country music.
The sportsman in Harry came out whilst he was in Sydney, and he played rugby for Parramatta and Redfern All Blacks for a year, and boxed with Ern McQuillan. It was at this time that he met the lady who was to become so great a part of his personal and musical life, Wilga Munro.
Wilga was born in Tamworth under a wild orange tree. ("Wilga" is an aboriginal word meaning "wild orange tree.") Her family background is similar to Harry's in that her family were also very musical. and played sport with great enthusiasm, her brother playing rugby for Australia against England. Wilga's first musical job was as a guitarist playing in a coffee lounge .... from 11.00 pm to 3.00 am! For a number of years she did a host of musical and "sporty" things.With three other artists, she represented Tamworth in an open talent quest held in Newcastle, played netball for Tamworth, touring New South Wales with the team, and, along with her big brother, coached junior rugby and netball. Then Wilga moved to Newcastle and there met Alan Saunders and Harry. She and Harry formed a group called "The Tjuringas," and they stayed together until Harry's death.
Harry and Wilga moved to Maroopna in Victoria where they eventually formed the "Country Outcasts" under which name they performed for the rest of their joint musical career. The new band received its first break with the "Country Music Guild of Australia" in Victoria, and went on to win awards at the Maroopna Festival where Harry was declared "Best Male Vocalist" and, with Bernie O'Brien of the band "Saltbush," won the "Best Songwriter" award. A flood of musical achievements followed, with performances at the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl and the Adelaide Festival Theatre. In all, the band made five complete tours of Australia and New Guinea.
In 1978, Reg Poole, Merve Lowrey and Denis Payne formed the "Checkerboard Country Road Show," the idea being to bridge the gap between black and white Australians and work together for a common cause. Harry and Wilga jumped at the chance to join the enterprise, which developed into "Checkerboard Promotions" in 1980.
After record albums recorded for RCA, Harry and Wilga's act came to the notice of Hadley Records and an album was recorded in the Hadley Studios in Tamworth on 20th August, 1981.That year, being most active in encouraging other aboriginal people with musical talent, Harry and Wilga moved their home to Canberra which was a more central spot from which to organise the shows and aboriginal talent quests that were an important part of their work.
2nd January, 1998