The Blue Mountains Ukulele Group held its 11th annual festival at Katoomba in the second week of February.  BUMS members Lesley Allan, Salli Chmura, Leanne Horne and Geoff Dancer were there to join the love of ukulele.

It started on Friday night with a dinner and performances by MARLOWE – a uke soloist from Minnesota.  See her mashing it up at Followed by  Simple Souls – described as Hawaii’s hottest female acoustic duo.

Ukulele Republic of Canberra, performing in wet attire. Blue Mt Uke Festival, 2020. Photo courtesy: Lesley Allan.

Thousands attended the festival and braved the persistent rain though the show did go on, except for the Big Jam on Saturday night.

There were up to eight stages in operation over the whole weekend with 25 minute performances and quick turn arounds.  It was a challenge to know who to see next and how to get there without getting too wet on the way.  Impressive acts from Queensland were Miss Elm (Erin Harrington), a BUMS member on her east coast tour and Accidentally on Purpose – three teenagers from Maleny.

Other top performers were the Outlaws Big Ukulele Band – a unique ensemble led by Ian Porter and the energetic Lightly Strung Orchestra from Sydney’s Northern Beaches.  See them at

Sunday was a good participative day at the Carrington Hotel with a series of performances interspersed with a strum-along from the Blue MUGS songbook.

Thanks to Lesley Allen for her report on the festival.  Never one to miss an educational opportunity for ukuleles, the BUMS group took a trip down to Blaxland to take in a pop-up workshop run by the Wild Women of Anywhere Beach (Cathy Welsford and Angie Smith).  This was an orchestration workshop culminating in a performance of a Russian song ‘Ochi Tchor ni ya’.  (Editor’s note:  I hope it was easier to play than to say).

Wild Women of Anywhere Beach & with Dennis on bass. Blue Mt Uke Festival, 2020. Photo courtesy: Lesley Allan.

Applications to perform at the 9th Annual Central Coast Ukulele & Folk Festival (August 28th-30th 2020) are now open!

Download your application form here.

Applications close on 30 June 2020.

Central Coast’s 9th Ukulele and folk festival will be held entirely at The Diggers at the Entrance, Central Coast Hwy, Long Jetty.

There will be several stages running performances. Workshops are available all weekend.

The Dinner show on Friday 28 August is a ticketed event. We have some brilliant acts both international and local ready to perform for you.

Tickets are purchased at The Diggers by calling (02) 4332 3399 to book a table. Two course meal, plus tea coffee and chocolates. This has been a popular evening and fantastic way to start our festival.

The Central Coast -a beautiful coastal region snuggled between two big cities. It has rainforests, lakes (Tuggerah Lakes, Budgewoi, Lake Macquarie and Lake Munmorah) and beautiful beaches. Long Jetty is 97.2 km from Sydney (1hr 24 min) on the M1 motorway. The nearest rail station is Tuggerah and the bus service runs regularly to and from The Entrance to Tuggerah station on the northern line. Long Jetty is one hour south of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. Accommodation is available at the Ibis Hotel connected to the club or at the many accommodation hotels, resorts and motels around the Entrance. There are also many brilliant camping and van parks grounds within close proximity.

Come and enjoy the live music and the beautiful Central Coast.

For more information, email Liz on

Been to the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival? The experience is unique. In its 10th year, the multi-award winning event, is held at Katoomba NSW, in and around the iconic Carrington Hotel.

Tom Richter from Maleny Ukulele tells about this year’s experience.

Maleny Ukulele at the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival

Some went by road, in caravans and motorhomes (or cars unconnected to mobile habitation), running down the Newell or the New England or the Pacific Highways. Some flew and jumped a train up from Sydney. All were in connection via social media, comparing the attractions of Coonabarabran versus Glen Innes versus Grafton.

Assembling at Katoomba Falls Tourist Park (booked well in advance to ensure adjoining sites), various activities were planned (hiking, mountain biking, sight-seeing, partying, lazing around), practice sessions were scheduled, song endings were altered, complaints were filed about song endings being altered, and a general ‘feel of the place’ was obtained.

The Ukulele festival, run by the Blue Mountains Ukulele Group (Blue MUGs), is held annually in and around the heritage-listed Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, with workshops taking place in the Cultural Centre. Getting around the venue is easy, and there are many restaurants and eateries within a short walk.

On the Friday night, a gentle easing in to the festival occurred, including jamming with the host group from their popular songbooks. Saturday was the main day of the festival, and our own Tom Richter conducted a jam-packed workshop in the morning.

Tom Richter leads sellout workshop at BMUF, 2019.

He also played a solo set at the City Bank Bar (with assistance on uke and vocal harmonies from some of the very talented MU members).

Maleny Ukulele’s own set was the closing slot at the Baroque Night Club. Assembling in the very cosy green room, ukes were tuned, straps were adjusted, flowers were applied to hair, last-minute questions were whispered, and then we were announced by Unkle Cyril, our wonderfully eccentric MC. As we launched into our first song, we knew it was going to be great. The sound was amazing, the crowd was transfixed, and we were on fire (doesn’t always happen). Although they knew there was a ‘no-encore’ policy, the crowd bayed for one anyway.

Maleny Ukulele performs at BMUF, 2019.

I thoroughly recommend the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival. The setting is sublime, the festival well-run and the acts (although no international mega-stars) are very good. Take some time either side of the festival if you can, because it is a long way to travel and there is so much to see and do in the beautiful Blue Mountains.

Tom Richter
Maleny Ukulele

The Golden Ukulele Festival will be held in the Cook Islands in March 2019.

Kia orana!

Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, is holding their very first ukulele festival in March 2019, and we have received an invitation for Brisbane Ukulele Musicians Society members to attend.

The Golden Ukalele Festival will feature unique Pacific and International Ukalele Rhythms.

The 15 islands of the Cooks are located in the heart of the Pacific, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. An oasis of freedom with crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches, warm weather all year round and authentic, friendly locals. Under 30 minutes from plane to any beach, it’s so easy to do as much or as little as you like in the Cook Islands. Rarotonga is ringed by boutique hotels, resorts, restaurants, gift shops, galleries, coffee spots and convenience stores. This is a great opportunity to experience the Kia Orana spirit and discover this piece of paradise.

Not only do the Cook Islands spell Ukalele differently, their ukulele also have a modified shape. Rather than a miniaturised version of the guitar, theirs is a distinctive pacific island instrument, shaped around the coconut shell, which also forms the base of the Cook Islands ukalele. These ukalele also have a higher tone which epitomises the capella style of traditional Cook Islands music and chants. Read more about the Cook Island ukalele culture on their festival website.

The Golden Ukalele Festival is scheduled for March of 2019, Saturday 16th to Thursday 21st. There are lots of activities over the six days including an Expo, a Parade and Concert. Join with other ukulele players attending church services around Rarotonga, and the Golden Ukalele Award night, where every ukulele player will be part of the nights ukulele orchestra – sure to be the highlight of weeks festival!

When you register for your festival pass you’ll receive-

  • Transfers: Airport meet and greet as well as transfers to and from your accommodation. Transport also provided for Sunday church service.
  • Festival Pack: Your official Festival programme, concert event entry tickets as well as meal vouchers.
  • Goodies: A local pareu (sarong), T-shirt, commemorative pearl shell carving, music sheets.

We are looking for expressions of interest from BUMS who are keen to travel to the Cook Islands and participate in the Golden Ukulele Festival. If that’s you please contact our Events coordinator Geoff Dancer via All travel costs are the participants own.

Kia manuia


‘Kia orana’ is how the Cook Islanders say ‘hello’, and ‘Kia manuia’ is how they say ‘good bye’.

BUMS you have been invited to the very first Cooloola Coast Ukulele Festival.

The Cooloola Coast Ukulele Group are putting together a unique, intimate, destination ukulele festival from Friday 20 to Sunday 22 July 2018. Numbers are limited to 25.

Tickets are $220 per person which includes

  • 2 nights accommodation
  • All meals provided including morning and afternoon teas
  • 4 workshops with notes
  • Breakfast with the Dolphins
  • Sing-a-long on the Ferry with a 1 1/2 hour cruise of the bay
  • Saturday night concert
  • Sing-a-long sessions with song booklet
  • carry bag and farewell gift

The workshops will be arranged depending on the level of experience of the participants with 9 workshops to choose from.

For a copy of the full program and more detailed information

contact Marilyn Russell via 

Accommodation is in shared rooms with bunk style beds utilizing mainly the lower bunks. Choice of menus, catering for dietary requirements.

Be quick if you want to be there- remember numbers are limited to 25! Deposit of $50 is required to secure booking with the balance payable 2 weeks prior to the festival.

To Book or for any other questions contact Marilyn Russell via

Download Flyer Coooola Coast UkeFest-2018 Festival Flyer