Almanac Music: Vale – Judith Durham: ‘The Carnival Is Over’



Judith Durham



It was a shock to discover via the news bulletin tonight that Judith Durham of The Seekers has died.


The Seekers, along with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan were part of my life growing up, particularly my teenage years.


Although it wasn’t cool to be a fan of The Seekers, like many I was a secret admirer of them and I loved their music.


Like many families, our family would sit together and watch their TV specials especially after they returned home to Australia as successful international recording stars. One such TV special incorporated an opportunity to buy a specially produced double album with all their hits which our family bought, and I’d imagined many hundreds of thousands also buying. It is still in my collection at home.


The Seekers



With Judith Durham the voice and focus of the group, and the magnificent songs written for the group, mainly by Tom Springfield, they could not fail, and it is easy to understand their success on the world stage especially as they were often seen as an antidote to that ‘evil rock-n-roll music’.



The Seekers Myer Music Bowl Concert 1967.



Our family had returned from Colac to Melbourne to live in early 1967,  and one of the first outings our family of seven had was to attend the Myer Music Bowl concert with The Seekers. We must have driven there, where we parked I’ve no idea but the crowd was overwhelming for a country lad of 16. Never before had I been amongst so many people, it was hot, people pushing and shoving trying to get closer to the stage, and I wondered whether it was worth the effort.



It was; I eventually managed to get close enough to hear though not see the stage very well being vertically challenged, but I do remember being pleasantly surprised by how good the sound clarity of the  group and the MSO  together was. It was as though the record was playing.



The recorded Myer Music Bowl Concert 1967



Like many tonight, I’ll probably go to my record collections and drag out those old LPs and singles and put them on the turntable, and sing along with The Seekers, and especially Judith Durham, and remember one more time those fantastic songs of those innocent times of yesterday.



A playlist of some of their many favourite songs.



RIP Judith Durham




More from Col Ritchie can be read Here


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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. roger lowrey says

    Beautifully captured Col.

    Like yourself, I too was a closet daggy fan not all that far up the road from Colac in Winchelsea and I certainly never admitted as much.

    They did have lovely sweet harmonies although she was clearly the driver of all the energy of the vocals , no question.

    RIP Judith.


  2. Kevin Densley says

    Good piece, Col, containing some fine memories of an iconic Australian singer.

    I’ve always loved the pitch-perfect, bell-like clarity of Judith Durham’s voice, and it’s no doubt she was The Seekers driving force.

  3. Daryl Schramm says

    Our whole family loved The Seekers, their music and their successes. I (secretly) loved JD as an adolescent and was very saddened to hear of her passing. The Seekers sound is still one of my favourites.

  4. Excellent tribute, Col.

    Her voice was one of the greatest in Australian music.

  5. Great memories Col. Fabulous Tom Springfield songs and what a voice Judith had. Confess to an adolescent (unrequited) crush. She glowed.
    My Seekers memory is the final of the 1969 Carnival between SA and the hated Vics at Adelaide Oval. The first half is burned in my memory as one of the great sporting experiences. Peter Marker’s running goal. Kenny Eustice flattening Daryl Griffiths who kicked the wrong way from the resulting free kick. Unfortunately 60 minutes was all my Croweaters had in them, whereas the Vics could play 120 at that intensity.
    Standing on the grey wooden benches in the stands after the game alongside my dad and grandad during the trophy presentations. The tinny speakers played “The Carnival is Over”. Captured the emotion of the game and the sadness of the result for a 14yo.
    “Who is Peerow, dad?” “And why is the song about caramels?”

  6. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Thanks Col! I saw them from Row ZZZ at the Palais in January 1968. It was a fab concert! I’m having a “Seekers Day” today and being reminded of Judith’s clear and faultless voice.

  7. The death of Judith Durham dovetails very recently into Smokie’s recent post, keeping me thinking of my own mortality. I recall The Seekers from before my times at primary school, many moons ago. The Seekers were one of the sounds of my early years, an Australian band who was famous across the world.

    As well as her beautiful voice Judith Durham had a good social conscience. During the famous 1986 Victorian nurses strike she performed at a fundraiser: was it at the Athaneum, my memory starts to wonder. There’s also a wonderful duet she did with Kutcha Edwards, a more inspiring version of the Australian national anthem than we’re used to.

    Vale Judith Durham.


  8. Thanks Col

    Like Glenn – Judith and the Seekers were like the backing soundtrack to my earliest years. And in looking and reading you post Col / the 1967 concert puts into perspective how big they were .

    Such an evocative sound.


  9. I was going to relate my memory of the last game of the 1969 Australian Rules Football (not AFL) carnival in Adelaide, but PB has beaten me to it. One of the great memories of her voice all over the original Adelaide Oval. Have also had the view for many years that those 3 blokes might still be busking in Bourke Street of not for one of the great voices of Australian music. Just loved her voice and dignity.

  10. If I ever get to be a contestant on Rockwiz, when I’m asked about my first concert, the answer will be simple: “The Seekers at The Myer Music Bowl, 1967”. Like about 10% of Melbourne’s population, my family decided to go on that hot Summer’s day, but when we arrived, the crowd was already all the way back up the hill and over the other side. As a 10yo devotee of The Seekers with an ear welded to my transistor radio listening to the pop stations of the day, I was shattered – this simply would not do. I had expected to be front and centre.

    I told my family that I was going to have a walk and a look-around, but I had a plan. I would just keep walking in between the picnics, the rugs and the eskys until I could see. When I made it to the top of the hill, I could see the stage far in the distance. Still not good enough. It hadn’t been that hard to get up to the top of the hill, so why not try moving down the hill? I zig-zagged through the bodies, the folding chairs and picnic rugs without anybody challenging me, presumably because I looked like a kid finding his way back to his family. Believe it or not, I got all the way to the front of the lawn section where I sat on a tiny patch of grass and watched the whole concert in relative comfort. My memories are of Judith’s green dress, the rows and rows of musicians in the orchestra, and the fact that The Seekers finished before playing “Georgy Girl”! “What the…?” I thought, “How dare they!” I was a newbie at this caper and didn’t realise that bands had to keep something special up their sleeves for an encore.

    All was now well with the world: I had seen The Seekers, heard them play their hits, brought them back for an encore…but now had to find my family out of the 250,000 punters on the grass. When I eventually found them, they were busy chatting to another family and hadn’t even missed me. I had my first gig under my belt, and about fifty years later, I would have the great pleasure of meeting Athol Guy and telling him the story of my first gig. In turn, he told me stories about Dusty Springfield, Lulu and John Lennon. His stories were better…

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