History of the NBCA

Australia was proclaimed a British Colony in Sydney NSW in 1788. As a penal settlement, band music was limited to Naval and Military Bands or ceremonial and social occasions for the authorities during the establishment years of British culture in this part of the the world.

Eventually civilian bands were established progressively in the various States in the mid 19th century, and expanded when Australia became a federation of all States and formed a National Government in the year 1901.

Brass band music has always been regarded as "Music of the People" and a brass band contest was held at the "Royal South Street Competitions" in Ballarat on 15th October 1900. There were 9 bands from Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, competing in music and marching. This contest became an annual event, and continues today.

In 1910 the Barossa and Light Eisteddfod was founded in South Australia on similar lines to the South Street competition. After three years it became the Tanunda Band Competition, and is still in existence today.

The First World War and the Great Depression did not stop the march forward of the band movement, and in the early 1930's it was felt essential to form a National Council, with all States represented, to unify contest rules and regulations, and apply them throughout Australia. The States had previously formed their own Associations, and after several attempts had failed, the Australia Band Council (ABC) was formed in New South Wales on 13th April, 1934. There were four States represented as follows:

  • New South Wales - Mr G Burgess
  • Victoria - Mr H.J. Sullivan
  • Queensland - Mr. W.J. Caught
  • South Australia - Mr. H.G. Dall


The organisation had a simple Constitution of a few rules, and Drill and Marching Regulations. During the period from 1934 to 1970, the Council was a committee which met tri-annually to review contest rules and regulations. Any changes decided at the meeting were subsequently circulated to all State Associations.

In 1965, the South Australian President, Mr Cliff Sorrell, who represented South Australia on the ABC, submitted a report to the Council and each of the State Associations on the subject "The Future of the Band Movement in Australia". In this paper he suggested that the ABC should take a leadership role.

The report was fully discussed at the next ABC meeting, and the State Associations agreed with it in principle. The President of the time, Mr C H Green continued to serve until 1970. When he retired, Cliff Sorrell was elected, and under his guidance a five year plan was drawn up, and the ABC Constitution was updated. It became evident that the Council needed to meet more regularly, and annual meetings were instituted.

In order to avoid confusion with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the name of the organization was changed to National Band Council of Australia (NBCA). The NBCA continues today in its role of coordinating the principles for the running of National Championships, although the detailed running of the Championships is carried out by the State Associations in rotation.

To date the NBCA has had 14 Presidents, the longest serving at 25 years being Mr C H Green from Queensland. There have been 13 Secretaries and 14 Life Members have been elected. All of these people have been most dedicated in serving the Australian band movement, and many have held senior administrative positions in the various State Associations.

Much of this historical material was compiled from material written by the late Mr Cliff Sorrell MBE, brass band historian and Past President and Life Member of both the South Australian Band Association and the NBCA.

Presidents of the NBCA

  • Prior to 1984: Mr Charles Green, Mr Cliff Sorrell MBE, Mr Fred Hodgkinson MBE, Mr Tom Gawn
  • 1984 -1986 Mr Harry Bluck AM
  • 1986 -1992 Mr Keith Golding
  • 1992 - 1996 Mr Bill Belcher OAM
  • 1996 - 2000 Mr Ross Heinze AM
  • 2000 - 2003 Mr David Peters OAM
  • 2003 - 2005 Mr Geoff Fry OAM
  • 2005 - 2009 Mr Robert Bedwell OAM
  • 2009 - 2013 Dr Kevin Cameron
  • 2013 - 2015 Mr Robert Bedwell OAM
  • 2015           Mr William (Bill) Broughton


Secretaries of the NBCA

  • Prior to 1984 Mr Jack Marchingo OAM, Mr Les Turner, Mr Cliff Goodchild, Mr Laurie Hicks
  • 1984 -1993 Mr Bert Bowden OAM *
  • 1993 - 1998 Mr Ian Mathers BEM
  • 1998 - 2002 Mrs Glenda Husk
  • 2002 - 2004 Mr John W Breen


Executive Officers of the NBCA

The NBCA changed the title of Secretary to Executive Officer in 2004.

  • 2004 - 2006 Mr Brian Dodds
  • 2006 - 2016 Mr Allen Woodham OAM
  • 2016 -         Mr Tony Schraven


Life Members of the NBCA

  • Mr Charles Green*
  • Mr Eric Smith*
  • Mr Cliff Sorrell MBE*
  • Mr Fred Hodgkinson MBE
  • Mr Jack Marchingo OAM*
  • Mr Harry Bluck AM*
  • Mr Keith Golding*
  • Mr Bert Bowden OAM*
  • Mr Ross Heinze
  • Mr Ian Mathers BEM
  • Mr David Peters OAM
  • Mr Geoff Fry OAM
  • Mr Robert Bedwell OAM
  • Mr Allen Woodham OAM

*=deceased

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