A website dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Australian
country music.

Country Music
The Music Of
Our Country

The Story of Australian Country Music

A Tribute to Buddy

A Tribute to Reg

A Tribute to Jimmy

A Tribute to Shirley

A Tribute to Slim

– Slim, Chronicler of the Bush

A Tribute to Smoky

A Tribute to Tex

– Tex Morton White Guitars

A Tribute to The McKean Sisters

Arch Kerr – pioneer record producer

Australia's College of Country Music

Bicentennial Concert 1970

The Big Golden Guitar

Birth of the Golden Guitars

Brief History of the Golden Guitar Awards


The Buddy Bishop Story

Country Music Capital Meets Music City

Country Music Hands of Fame

Country Music Media

Country Music Roll of Renown

Country Timeline

First The Song

Ghosts of Tamworth

Golden Guitar Memories

Golden Guitar Pioneers

Golden Guitar Winners Tally

The Gympie Muster

The Hadley Records Story

History of the College of Country Music

How the CMAA Was Born

How Tamworth became Country Music Capital

How the College of Country Music Works


The John Minson Story


Minson Memories

Narrative! Narrative! Narrative!

Origins of the Tamworth Country Music Festival

Radio Ranch & Spurs

Ross Murphy

Sources and Resources

Stairway to Stardom

The Story of Maton Guitars

Tamworth Milestones

Tamworth, We've Done Us Proud

What is Country Music

For more information
Contact: Max Ellis

Email info@historyofcountrymusic.com.au


All matters relating to the conduct of this site remain under the total control of Max Ellis or his nominees who will endeavour to ensure the accuracy and balance of the content and proper conduct of the site but, subject to legal requirements, cannot be held responsible for any digression or non-compliance in respect of these matters.

Brief History of Star Maker

Star Maker is Australia's best known, most successful and most prestigious talent quest for young Australian country music singers.

It was started in 1979 by Radio 2TM's country music division BAL Marketing which, at that time, was organising the already highly successful Australasian Country Music Awards.

In contrast to the Awards, which were aimed at recognising established professional artists, Star Maker was conceived as a means of offering emerging talent the opportunity to advance their careers in country music as professionals.

Star Maker opens doors of opportunity for the young winners helping them move into music as a career. This is achieved by 12 months heavy promotion of the winners to both fans and industry resulting in an extremely high profile for the current "Star Maker". Many winners have gone onto enjoy enormous professional success.

Star Maker winners have an instant profile and are widely sought after as entertainers. They do not receive cash. Their prize is image and opportunity. *

Since 1995 Star Maker has been organised and staged by Rural Press Events in Tamworth.  Gary Robertson and then Terry Hill were two of the BALM staff most associated with Star Maker winners over the early years.

Since Star Maker's inception in 1979, the event and associated activity has had an incredible effect on Australian country music, establishing the careers of a number of today's high profile stars. These include Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan (pictured here with Max Ellis, left, and Gary Robertson in 1982. Click the image for a larger picture), Gina Jeffreys, James Blundell, Beccy Cole, Brendon Walmsley, Grand Junction (pictured above, from the top, Dave Tyne, John Fraser, Alan Trudinger, Lance Clarke and Peter Johnson) and many others. Several other major stars including Troy Cassar-Daley and Tania Kernaghan were Star Maker Grand Finalists. Star Maker winners and finalists have always featured heavily as Country Music Awards finalists, particularly in the New Talent category with 12  Star Maker winners taking out Golden Guitars.


Held on the October long weekend until 1983, Star Maker was moved to the first weekend of the Festival in January 1985.


Since it started it has been judged by a panel of six industry experts.

Twenty Finalists are selected from the many entries. These finalists come to Tamworth and the judging panel selects the top Grand Finalists.

The Grand Finals are normally held on the Sunday night on the first weekend of the Festival.


Originally staged in the Tamworth Town Hall Star Maker later moved to the Tamworth Workman's Club before returning to the Town Hall.  In 2004 Star Maker moved to the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre.

Entry Criteria

These have changed only slightly over the years. For example originally bands were allowed to enter.

Today entrants must be solo performers over 18 years old who have never had a record release that was not personally funded and are not entrants or previous winners in the Country Music Awards of Australia.


Since its early years Star Maker has attracted top line sponsorship including , The NSW Building Society, Chesterfield Cigarettes, Westpac Bank and Two Dogs Lemonade. In 1996 Toyota took up sponsorship of the Star Maker Quest, giving it and it’s first winner, Darren Coggan and subsequent winners, a major boost in exposure, as well as providing them with a Toyota vehicle. After an unprecedented 15 years, Toyota still continues this sponsorship celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the event in 2009.

    1979         Grand Junction

    1980         Tommy Miller

    1981         Leanne Douglas

    1982         Lee Kernaghan

    1983         Vic Lanyon

    1984         Transferred to January '85

    1985         Great Divide

    1986         Jane Maddick

    1987         James Blundell

    1988         Jenine Vaughan

    1989         Craig Robertson

    1990         Keith Urban

    1991         Gina Jeffreys

    1992         Warren Derwent

    1993         Beccy Cole

    1994         Clint Beattie

    1995         Tanya Self

    1996         Darren Coggan

    1997         Lyn Bowtell

    1998         Kate Ballantyne

    1999         Brendon Walmsley

    2000         Grant Richardson

    2001         Kylie Sackley

    2002         Kieran Lancini

    2003         Todd Williams

    2004         Travis Collins

    2005         Samantha McClymont

    2006         Cat Southern

    2007         Kirsty Lee Akers

    2008         Talia Wittmann

    2009         Liam Brew

    2010         Luke Austen

    2011         Luke Dickens

    2012         Bob Corbett

    2013         Kaylee Bell

    2014         Jared Porter

    2015         Mickey Pye

    2016         Karin Page

    2017         Rachael Fahim

    2018         Brad Cox

* For example, the 2010 Toyota Star Maker winner not only carried the prestigious title Toyota Star Maker, but also received a big budget recording session with one of Australia’s top producers, an album recording deal with award winning Compass Brothers Records, production of a professional video clip of one of the tracks by an award winning director with distribution and promotion of at least two tracks to radio and other media and 50 copies of the album for personal distribution.

To help the winner build their professional careers there is the use of a new, fully serviced Toyota vehicle with a fuel card for the 12 months while a Maton acoustic guitar provides them with a world class instrument.

Other prizes include media promotion with monthly exposure in Australia’s leading monthly country music magazine Country Music Capital News, a photographic portfolio with Image Design Photography, guaranteed performance bookings at a designated list of events organised by Artist Network including the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Perth Muster, Mud Bulls & Music, Toyota National Muster at Gympie and Penrith’s Museum of Fire plus a special performance at the Toyota Star Maker Grand Final in 2011.

Compiled and produced in Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital © Copyright GM Ellis Material on this site can be down loaded. Where copyrights on pictures or other content are known to exist, approvals for use have been obtained. If you have any query regarding material on the site please contact the site manager