Junkestra – the string can orchestra from Girgarre in Northern Victoria


Over my ten-week residency in Mar-Apr 2018 JUNKESTRA literally grew from a pile of rubbish to an orchestra with 30+ players. We built instruments, we practiced a lot, we invited guest groups to appear with us and we put on a great show for the opening of the new Gargarro Soundshell. ​It is the brainchild of the Girgarre ReViVal committee – Jan Smith, Athol & Sandra McDonald, Lisa Smith, Pat Sufra and Carrie Donaldson. They had the idea, they won a prestigious Small Town Transformations grant through Regional Arts Victoria and they made it happen. It is a fantastic project that is ongoing
​”Watching and listening to this concert and show under the night sky in the bush town of Girgarre I felt transported into space! I was invited to a performance of people and sometimes extraterrestrials evolving in and out of a space-like sound shell structure, acting, singing and playing music and sounds in wonderful costumes and with self created instruments.
​A truly out of this world evening!!”

– Astrid Wiegand, Graeme’s sister in law

Most of the players in the Girgarre Junkestra had never played music before and they range in age from 13 to 84. Each string-can has one guitar string, so six played at once is like an open chord on a guitar. There’s more information about String Cans here.

2018 Gala Performance excerpts..

Watch the full Gala Performance here

Doc plays a bike solo

Final rehearsal filmed by Liz Arcus

Junkestra with Line Dancers

Junkestra with Fire Brigade

Harp and Strings

Junkestra with Rushworth Band

Spirit Rising theme excerpt

Des plays Bin Lid Guitar


Junkestra Star on National TV

ABC Backroads, the very popular ABC TV show hosted by Heather Ewart, broadcast an episode on Girgarre in July 2020. The production team were in town the February before gathering footage and stories. GIRGARRE JUNKESTRA were recorded playing a 5 minute version of SPIRIT RISING for the cameras under the baton of Maureen Shepherd.

We had rehearsed and prepared for this while I was there in January. The ensemble are now kicking off the training wheels and continuing their development under their own steam.

Congratulations to all in the group who endured what I understand was a pretty gruelling recording session with eight takes from different camera angles, and a huge thank you to the Backroads team for their caring and detailed work on this project. 

Watch the ABC TV Backroads Girgarre episode HERE

photo - Damian Estall
photo - Damian Estall
photo - Damian Estall
photo - Damian Estall

Girgarre Junkestra receives standing ovation at Deakin Edge

Ovation for the Girgarre Junkestra at Deakin Edge Saturday 4 May 2019. A wonderful night in a superb venue. Thank you Anne Smith and all the team from Independent Schools Victoria and the Arts Learning Festival for bringing Junkestra to Melbourne. Great care and skill from sound tech Jarrod Hansford thank you. Thank you also to Patrick Cronin for all your work, and to our guests who added new dimensions to the music: my sister Lynne Kowalik on violin (drove from Canberra to play), Boris Conley on bassoon, Ben Segal on percussion and Thea Rossen on melodion and percussion. Take a bow, Girgarre Junkestra. The Girgarre Revival


Watch the full show now…

A video of the Melbourne performance is available here
Junkestra performance