Australian Colonial Dance

Serendipity used to mean flicking through a dictionary and finding interesting and unusual words.

But now it means stumbling across fascinating websites.  Like this one: Australian Colonial Dance.

It’s a lovely little blog about dance and music in colonial Australia, with interesting information and (crucially) bibliographic lists of sources.

Of course my favourite post is the one describing Australia’s first piano.

Surgeon George Worgan, thirty-three, had improbably managed to bring a piano with him on the First Fleet.  In 1790 he gallantly began to tutor Elizabeth Macarthur, telling her she’d ‘done wonders in being able to play off God save the King and Foots Minuet’ and that she was ‘reading the Notes with great facility.’ Worgan went so far as to make Elizabeth a gift of the pianoforte upon his departure in 1791.

I’d always imagined that piano as a modern upright but now I learn it probably looked like this one, in the photo. And, oh frabjous day, there is a link to Foote’s Minuet – to the sheet music and to an MP3 recording. Thank you!

Other interesting posts include:

No, I don’t know the people behind the Australian Colonial Dance website. But I’m very grateful to them for sharing.

2018-03-24T22:48:58+10:00 October 21st, 2015|Colonial History|8 Comments


  1. Ms Frugal Ears October 21, 2015 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    How fascinating. Elizabeth must have made an impression. I wonder what her husband thought of her piano lessons and the gift of the pianoforte.

    • Michelle Scott Tucker October 22, 2015 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Oh Elizabeth was VERY popular when she arrived in NSW, ha ha. All the officers fell over one another to be her friend. Her husband’s views are not known but Elizabeth at one stage wrote (possibly tongue in cheek) that there were so many male visitors that her husband could hardly complain that he had no company.

  2. Michelle Scott Tucker October 22, 2015 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Possibly both, but the fact she was the only genteel woman for several thousand miles may also have had something to do with it…

  3. […] I blogged about Elizabeth’s piano last year, in a post called Australian Colonial Dance. […]

  4. […] then go on with a paragraph about her new friend George Worgan (who gave her a piano), and another about Watkin […]

  5. […] then go on with a paragraph about her new friend George Worgan (who gave her a piano), and another about Watkin […]

  6. Heather Clarke March 25, 2018 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Hello Michelle, Thank you for this inspiring reference to my site. I’ve been researching Australian colonial dance for many years and have found the website the best way to let people know about this significant aspect of our culture. I’m currently completing a doctorate on convict dance in the early colony. Once this is completed I’ll be adding more information to the site.

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