There’s a fine tradition of free publications in Australia – newspapers and magazines independent of major commercial interests, that devote their columns and pages to lively coverage of music, the arts, local issues.
In Cairns, Barfly blazed an entertaining and honourable trail between 1990 and 2005, covering the local entertainment scene, giving local music and theatre the attention it deserved and often couldn’t get elsewhere.
Barfly championed local performers, it raised local issues, and, to use the Australian vernacular, it stirred the possum and took the piss. This made for lively reading, but it also drew on the remarkable talents of a swag of visual artists to produce a magazine that was uniquely far north Queensland.
The first edition hit the streets in March 1990, and apart from an 18 month hiatus, it continued in one form or another until 2005. One of Barfly‘s key contributors is now also the keeper of its distinguished history. Tony Hillier had his work published in all but one of Barfly’s 701 editions, and was its longest serving editor. Tony is a fine musician, an old-school newspaperman, and our ABC Far North music specialist.
Tony told the Barfly story at the regular Pecha Kucha night in Cairns at the Tanks Arts Centre this week. It’s an entertaining saga of culture and courage, and of Cairns in a fondly remembered era.
And watch Tony’s Pecha Kucha presentation here – video by Mal Floyd and Pecha Kucha, Cairns.