With an eclectic mix of instruments and sounds, the Haystack Mountain Hermits will return home to Queensland as this year’s Australian National Busking champions.
Hundreds of spectators gathered in Cooma’s Centennial Park for the national finals concert with the Hermits declared Australia’s best buskers.
The family-band from Tamborine Mountain on the Gold Coast wowed audiences on Sunday with their gypsy skiffle-blues style of music.
The tight-knit family travelled more than 1000km to compete in their second national busking championships.
“We do a lot of stage performances, but we just love busking acoustically,” Hermit double bass player, and mum, Kerrie Gambley said.
“The art-form of the good old-fashioned acoustic busk is getting stronger. We have Allan Spencer (busking championships founder and organiser) to thank for this.”
In 2017, the Hermits won best band and finished runners-up at the Australian National Busking Championships.
It’s been a successful year for the Hermits, taking out the best band and overall winners at the Queensland Regional Busking Championships in Stanthorpe.
The family of six began their busking foray back in 2011 with a trip around Australia.
The Hermits consist of: Dave Church, guitarist and singer; Kerrie Gambley, double bass; Ella, percussionist; Lachlan, mandolin; Marcus, resonator guitar; and Jackson, accordion.
The Hermits’ energetic performances have captivated audiences across the country. Earlier this year, they won the Toyota Busking Championships at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
“The amazing thing about music is when you stand there and play as a group, everyone is happy,” Kerrie said.
In true skiffle blues fashion, the Hermits’ instruments vary from the weird to the wonderful.
Boasting a Donmo mandolin made from 100-year old corrugated iron, a double bass, and a homemade washing board, the instruments attract almost as much attention as their music.
“The washboard was made over a weekend in the shed. It’s a genuine Australian, homemade instrument,” Dave said.
Being crowned national busking championships came with a nice paycheck for the Hermits who collected $2000 for their efforts.
The Hermits took time out of their busy schedule to interact with spectators and explain their unique style of music. One question often asked of the Hermits, is the origin of their name.
“I grew up in the shadows of the Haystack Mountain. My parents are still there on a farm and it’s got a very strong connection in our hearts,” Kerrie said.
“The Haystack Mountain Hermits pays homage to our background.”
In its seventh year, the busking championships were held over two-days. Buskers competed in the Cooma regional finals on Saturday and then the national finals on Sunday, which were made up of buskers from each of the seven regional finals held around Austraila.
Allan Spencer said spectators were treated to a wonderful range of performances.
“Buskers from all over Australia were competing for cash prizes. The busking was free for spectators who enjoyed the great weather and listened to the fantastic music,” Allan said.