Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Dunbar Carey, Don Bradman, Amy Johnson and connections to Coburg

Image found at Anzacs Online

5667 Private Ernest Robert Dunbar Carey sailed for the war with the 17th Reinforcements of the 5th Infantry Battalion in April 1916 as a nineteen year old.

At the time he had no connections to Coburg, but as is the way of things, there were at least three men on board the ship who did, three men who died on the Western Front: brothers William and Edward Ashcroft and Daniel Angland (a member of the Coburg Harriers Club). The Ashcrofts’ brother Walter suffered a double amputation trying to rescue Edward, returned and settled in Coburg and spent the rest of his life working for disabled soldiers.

On his return, Carey worked for the Federal Taxation Department, but his great love was music and in the early 1920s he began to compose songs and conduct various suburban orchestras and was the director of the Malvern RSL Orchestra at one stage, styling himself Dunbar Carey. He also acted as a musical editor, adviser and arranger for Allans, Collins and Medley Music House at various times.

As a composer, he published a number of songs about high profile public figures, none very successful.

One, Just Plain ‘Johnnie’ was about the aviatrix Amy Johnson, who visited Melbourne to such acclaim in June 1930.

Image courtesy National Library of Australia,

Another was Take Off Your Hats to Bradman! Also written in 1930.

Image courtesy National Library of Australia,

In 1932 Dunbar Carey opened a music and radio shop at 112 Bell Street, Coburg, in the block between Sydney Road and the railway line. With the Depression beginning to bite, it was the worst possible time to start a new business dealing in what were essentially luxury goods, so it is no surprise that by 1936 he had closed up shop and returned to the Public Service where he remained until he retired in 1953. He later left Victoria for Queensland, where he died in 1960.

Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society. 
Interestingly, the producer of this publication, Herbert Rouvray, was also a returned servicemen. 

Dunbar Carey’s brief career in the music industry forms part of an academic study on the music written about the great Australian cricketer Don Bradman, so if you have any insights you can offer on Ernest R.D. (Dunbar) Carey or on music written about Don Bradman, please contact me and I’ll pass it on.


  1. Interesting to see Edmund Luke given credit for the words on the Bradman music. Perhaps because he was a photographer and not a wordsmith that had something to do with the music not being very successful. Luke was about 66 and living in Malvern when that music was published. Intriguing to see social connections at work.
    From: Upper Beaconsfield: An early history
    "Luke was a skilled photographic craftsman. In 1893, his ability was recognised resulting in an invitation to join the staff of the Age and the Leader. In fact he was the first artist and photographer appointed to the Syme company and he fulfilled the role for 43 years. In 1894, in company with Julian Thomas, a brilliant descriptive writer, who used the pen name ‘The Vagabond’, Luke was sent to the goldfields of Western Australia to cover the opening of the Cue Railway Line. On his return the Age published an illustrated book. By chance it included a photograph of a mine manager, who was later to become President Hoover of the USA. The book was so well received that Luke was commissioned to visit New Zealand to photograph the splendid scenery. Whilst there, Luke submitted several designs for stamps for use by the New Zealand Government, some of these were accepted."

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jenny. The connections that can be made between people and communities all over Victoria, and indeed Australia, constantly amaze me. You've just added one more!