Jim Haynes OAM is an Australian writer, entertainer, broadcaster, humourist, songwriter and historian.
The son of British migrants, he was born in Sydney and attended Botany Public School, Sydney Boys’ High School and Sydney Teachers’ College and later gained two masters’ degrees in literature, from the University of New England and the University of Wales. He sang in a folk trio at Teachers’ College and was a member of various bands while teaching in country towns, in between several periods living in the UK.
While teaching in Inverell, NSW, in the late 1970s, Jim formed the Bandy Bill & Co Bush Band. He re-joined in 1985 after living in the UK and the band recorded two albums on the Hadley label and had airplay on the ABC radio show Australia All Over. Jim worked weekend shifts on commercial radio station 2NZ, began providing stories and poetry readings for Australia All Over and quit teaching to work full time on that program in 1988. He had a minor hit with Mow Ya Lawn in 1989 and signed his first solo record deal with Festival’s Kookaburra label in 1990.
He then embarked on a career as an entertainer, performing in clubs and touring a school show called Singabout Australia. His break came when Warner Chappel signed him to a publishing deal and two songs from his album It’s Nothing Serious became hits. Don’t Call Wagga Wagga Wagga, recorded with Greg Champion and Ted Egan, was a hit in 1994 and Since Cheryl Went Feral, topped the country charts for five weeks in 1995/96 and crossed over onto the pop charts.
Haynes signed a three record deal with ABC Music and began touring his own show. He has also toured with other artists like Slim Dusty, Frank Ifield, Melinda Schneider, Beccy Cole, Greg Champion and Adam Brand. He has recorded quite a few albums of songs, verse and humour on his own label Singabout Australia.
All Jim’s songs are now on two albums, The Essential Jim Haynes and The Non-Essential Jim Haynes.
Having ‘invented’ the perfect country town of Weelabarabak in the 1980s, Haynes began writing verse about the town and its characters and events. These poems were self-published as I’ll Have Chips! which sold over 10 000 copies. A book of short stories, Memories of Weelabarabak, followed – published by ABC Books.
His Aussie Verse column was a weekly feature of the nation’s oldest magazine Australasian Post, until its demise in 2004. He has now written, compiled and edited twenty-five books, including The Book of Australian Popular Rhymed Verse, which contains almost 1000 poems from early colonial days to the present and The Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids – which contains over 600 rhymed poems.
Also credited with starting morning shows at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Jim set up the very first ’bush verse’ morning show in 1989. His Big Bush Brekky Variety Show was a feature of the Festival for twenty-six years. He also helped establish the Australian Bush Laureate Awards for recorded and published verse and the Stone The Crows Festival for grey nomads in Wagga Wagga and hosted seven Verse, History and Country Music trips to Norfolk Island for the Norfolk Island Country Music Festival.
Jim served on the board of the Country Music Association of Australian for fifteen years, was involved in the very successful Academy of Australian Country Music and designed the course for the parents of young talented performers. He was given Honorary Life Membership of the Association in 2014.
He has continued to work in radio, presenting the weekend Australiana segment on the nationwide Talking Lifestyle radio network George and Paul Show. He spends much of his time writing and speaking while still performing occasionally.
Jim was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day Honour’s List in 2016, ‘for service to the performing arts as an entertainer, author, broadcaster and historian’.
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Books by Jim Haynes:
- Australia’s Greatest Scams, Cons and Rorts (Allen & Unwin)
- Australia’s Most Unbelievable True Stories (Allen & Unwin)
- The Big Book of Australian Racing Stories (Allen & Unwin)
- The Best Gallipoli Yarns (Allen & Unwin)
- Australia’s Best Unknown Stories (Allen & Unwin)
- Best Australian Yarns (Allen & Unwin)
- Best Australian Bush Stories (Allen & Unwin)
- Best Australian Sea Stories (Allen & Unwin)
- Best Australian Trucking Stories (Allen & Unwin)
- The Great Australian Book of Limericks 2nd Ed (Allen & Unwin)
- Best Australian Racing Stories (Allen & Unwin)
- On All Fronts – Australia’s WW2 (Harper Collins/ABC)
- The Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids (Allen & Unwin)
- The ABC Book of Australian Country Music (ABC Books)
- The Book of Australian Popular Rhymed Verse (ABC Books)
- Great Australian Aviation Stories (ABC Books)
- Great Australian Racing Stories (ABC Books)
- Cobbers – Stories of Gallipoli 1915 (ABC Books)
- All Aboard – Tales of Australian Railways (ABC Books)
- Great Australian Drinking Stories (ABC Books)
- An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse (ABC Books)
- The Great Australian Book of Limericks (ABC Books)
- An Australian Heritage of Verse (ABC Books)
- Memories of Weelabarabak (ABC Books)
- I’ll Have Chips – (Singabout Australia)