A tuneful tick off Dave’s bucket list


p2212-Dave-Oakes By ANDREA JOHNSTON
Radio 8HA-SunFM
Liverpudlian Dave Oakes (pictured) ended up in the Alice when his wife convinced him to turn left at Threeways “just to have a look” because she thought Alice Springs sounded romantic.
Almost four decades later, and sadly now a widower, he’s approaching retirement but says he’s going to spend the time immersing himself in his other love: music.
Oakes has recently ticked an ambition off the bucket list by putting together a CD called Made in Alice … his first major foray into the world of recording.
Other wishes included getting a tattoo of a Liver Bird to represent his beloved Liverpool Football Club, which he did last year. Yet to come is a trip to China, and the opportunity to see Peru’s Nazca Lines.
Made in Alice features ten self-penned songs, plus a couple of old favourites including Sweet Baby James. The sound would be a perfect fit at any folk festival and the themes are unapologetically Central Australian.
Through a Liverpool accent born of the Beatles’ era, but uncompromised by so many years in Australia, Oakes tells his stories about people and places dear to him including Uluru, Kata Tjuta and The Ross River Cowboy which is inspired by a camel trip accompanied by Hal Duell.
His clear diction on a song called Ted guides the listener as Oakes paints a portrait of Ted Egan with phrases like “you beauty” following the former Administrator’s story of how he ended up in the Territory, “the wildest place a man could be”.
Check out Wings of an Albatross from his album Made in Alice Springs which you can pick up at Rock City Music.
The song was written for a friend who was leaving town and is loosely based on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, albeit with a twist.
The album was created with the help of local musician and producer Ross Muir who, according to Oakes, has done a job that is “nothing short of genius”.
Anyone familiar with the local music scene will recognise some of the other names on the sleeve too, including vocalist Barry Skipsey, fiddler Paul Leggatt and accordion player Marg Collins.
Dave will be playing the National Folk Festival in Canberra and the Top Half Folk Festival at Glen Helen this year.


  1. Fantastic! This man has talent. When will he be performing at Glen Helen? I will be there. I love these stories of how people just found themselves in Alice Springs.

  2. Dave has honed his musical craft over many years plus he has a deep and sincere love of the Aussie bush and its people so when you combine those elements together you will get a polished recording of fine, topical songs and this is what he has delivered on this CD.
    Without hesitation I have to say that I enjoy listening to these songs and I encourage others to get a copy and hear what this man has produced.
    See you at the Top Half Folk Festival, Queens Birthday weekend in June. I’m looking forward to hearing these songs played live and to shouting you a beer.
    Cheers Dave, thanks for sharing your work.

  3. Oakes’ songs trigger vivid memories of my time in Alice. A true artist, writer and performer who imbibes and expresses his surrounds. So glad to now be able to carry his `hits’ with me wherever I go.

  4. David has been a presence and a legend in Alice Springs for my entire time here in the Centre. I still cherish a photo I have of David helping hold down a camel while I turned him from a bull into a bullock.
    The one thing missing from this story is a full CV of David’s life. It would have to encompasses both sides of the street, for David has walked on main street, and he has walked on the wild side.
    It would be a CV worth reading, if perhaps posthumously to avoid any unnecessary complications.
    A good bloke. I will miss him, as will many others including his daughter and five granddaughters.

  5. Don’t know how I got on this page but when I saw the name Dave Oakes from Walton in Liverpool I thought, Christ, that’s Oaksy.
    I knew he moved to Oz and that he was a bit of a busker but after reading what he has achieved I am really made up for him.
    His dad Wilf worked with us in Bootle and just over 22 years ago attended our wedding.
    After getting back from my honeymoon I received the sad news of his passing, a great man, Wilf, stayed in his house a couple of times when I was a kid.
    Anyhow, don’t want to ramble on about the past, just happy to hear Dave is doing so well.
    If he reads this, all the best mate, and sorry to hear about your mum. Lovely woman. Been ticked off a few times by her.


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