“If Bob Dylan was born 20 years later and grew up fraternising in Collingwood bars, he would sound like this.” Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine, Melbourne

Van Walker is a Tasmanian native who’s prolific songwriting productivity has seen him become a ‘cult figure locally’ in his adopted Melbourne, having written over 500 songs across many genres, releasing 6 full length albums between 2008 & 2010, a selection of which the Fuse Music Group released in 2012 on the Underneath the Radar compilation, which met with national critical acclaim, prompting Mess & Noise to state, “Literary vigour and scathing social commentary, if there is any justice in this world, Underneath the Radar will provoke a radical awareness & appreciation of Van Walker’s songwriting talents.”

Since then Van has been busy touring nationally and internationally, writing and releasing two albums with the powerpop outfit The Livingstone Daisies (2013, PBS Album of the Year) (2014 4.5 Stars AGE EG) with Liz Stringer, his brother Callan, and Michael Barclay (Paul Kelly), recording and touring Heartbrokers (Jeff Lang, Ash Davies and Ezra Lee); forming the three piece blues boogie outfit Goatpiss Gasoline (Hank Green & Suit Watkins); while also writing and performing as a member of the critically acclaimed Vandemonian Lags stage production (Mick Thomas/Tim Rogers, et al).

Last year he released the lauded solo album Ghosting, Rhythms Readers Poll Album of the Year Runner Up, and Music Victoria Country Album of 2021 nominee, while Rubber Records released The Best of The Swedish Magazines: I Wish Life Could Be (4.5 Stars Rolling Stone Magazine).

2022 will see the release of his next album Greetings from Newtown Geelong.

Van’s move from Melbourne to Geelong in 2018 was a much-needed sea-change for the restless artist and another chapter in the ongoing adventure with him teaming up to play with local musicians The Ferriters. Named after the Irish folk hero Pierce Ferriter (see song: The King of the Irish Rebels), the band built crowds locally and became popular among Irish and non-Irish festivals alike, winning over audiences with their mix of Aussie and Irish folk/rebel music. The tight knit unit with Seamus Hoare on bass and harmonica, and Maree Dertien on Accordion, it built to include Greg Field on Fiddle & Mandolin, Dan Musil on dobro, and Michael Barclay on drums and vocals.


Born & raised on the windswept prairies of north-west coast Tasmania, Van first heard the music of Bob Dylan around adolescence & began picking guitar & writing songs. Many songs later, he moved to Melbourne to form the rocknroll outfit The Swedish Magazines, and sing his unique acoustic material  on the side.

The first collection of these beguilingly simple songs came out in 2008 entitled   The Celestial Railroad, & in 2009 three separate sessions were released,  The Last Record Store (Jan) Greetings from Penguin Tasmania (Aug) & Love Fate (Oct). Drawing on the grand storytelling tradition of artists such as Ray Davies, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, & the acoustic finger-styles of John Fahey &  Mississippi John Hurt, Van created a sound both old & new, with a laconic familiarity that speaks to the heart with an intimacy more effortless than contrived.

“Van Walker writes songs with the ease the rest of us breath.” JB HiFi MAG, Aug, 2010.

He took to the road with a cache of seemingly myriad original compositions & began finding his audience in the most unlikely places, even writing songs while standing on stages, composing ditties to people he’d only just met, & delivering albums with these dedications on them. Songs for local independent record stores (The Last Record Store), pubs nestled deep within the southern wilderness (Blackout), books found & read on lonely train rides (Timbuktu) & even odes dedicated to itinerant musicians doing the very same (Living Like a Gypsy).

Along with these came songs of lovelorn spies (The Singing Detective) downtrodden bus-drivers (Old Joe) transient serial murders (Travelin Man) & drunken rabbits (Wildgrass) to name a few.

“The Oscar Wilde of the Aussie music scene.” Gary Young, ex Daddy Cool & present Chicken Mary presenter, Triple R

By August of 2010 the latest full-length album Bush League Bard was released to more rave reviews. A collection of both new, unheard songs & unrecorded live favorites, teaming up with the same musicians whom graced his debut, BLB was be his last for a while as he awaited the release of a retrospective from The Fuse Music Group entitled UNDERNEATH THE RADAR 2008 ~ 2010, a compilation of songs from his first 5 albums, in an attempt to harness this mercurial torrent of productivity into a digestible overview of an artist unblocked, released  October 28th 2011 to more positive press.

“A superb storyteller.” ~ MAG Nov 2011

“Words & Music flow out of Van Walker like the rivers that sometimes set the scene for his wonderful storytelling.” 4 1/2 stars ~ Martin Boulton, The AGE

“A captivating storyteller, reminiscent of Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt or Bob Dylan…A true & rare talent that has to be heard.” 4 1/2 stars ~ Denise Hyland, Twang, RRR

Album of the week, Nov 2011, Sydney Morning Herald, B. Zuel

“A devoted songwriter…Walker is a much revered, almost cult figure locally.” RHYTHMS, Nov 2011

“Literary vigor…scathing social commentary… If there is any justice in this world, Underneath the Radar will provoke a radical awareness & appreciation of Van Walker’s songwriting talents.”  Mess & Noise

“Underneath the Radar may not be such a bad place to be. Other songwriters might get more attention, but Melbourne’s Van Walker simply makes music, releasing an astonishing five albums in two years. “The only thing that keeps me sane,” he sings, “is playing music, not the game.” This album gathers 15 songs from those five albums. Ragged, rambling & revealing, it showcases a superb story teller, aware that “the Low Road is long,” but Van Walker is a stayer, not a sprinter.” 4 stars, Music Australia Guide

Past critical response…

“The Celestial Railroad is really is one hell of a prolific record, with songwriting and delivery constructed to break the hearts of many in the Aussie Roots scene who have tried for years to express themselves in this manner.” Nick Argyriou, RHYTHMS


**** Four Stars (Celestial Railroad) Jeff Glorfeld, The Age, Oct 24th, 2008


“Another Lyrical Masterpiece” (The Last Record Store) RHYTHMS, aug ’09


ALBUM OF 2009 (Last Record Store) Cowboy’s Sweetheart BayFM 99.9 Byron Bay


Top Albums of 2009 – THE LAST RECORD STORE – Basement Discs, Melbourne


Best Song of 2009 – DARK RIDER (Last Record Store) Brian Wise, RRR, Off The Record


Triple J Friends FAV SONG – Beyond Where the Last Buses Run – Robert Murphy, Western Doggies


“An effin’ ripper talent.” Jordie Lane

“A truly great songwriter.” Charles Jenkins

“Van drops albums like a big tree drops leaves.” Matt Walker

“The bush league bard from Burnie, who is…in my opinion, one of the finest songwriters in the country.” Jeff Lang

“Set of pipes, endless songs and a heart of gold.” Kath White

“A whisky drinking Scottish bard with a red beard and a hot temper.” Nicole Coombes 

“Van has so much warmth… being near him is like sitting by a campfire.” Shannon MacDonald

“I fucking love Van. A very real performer and a great songwriter.” Chris Russell

“Van Walker has carved a deep and permanent mark into the Australian song-writing landscape. His songs, like his presence, are giant, and his influence burns ever bright – beneath the radar, and always in the corner of my eye.” Luke Sinclair

“Van has written a terrific prison song (Prisoner’s Blues). They are hard to write well and this is a smart, thoughtful and very funny one.” Wayne Kramer, MC5

“What a talent! Wildgrass is as fine & original a song as I’ve heard in a long time.” Eric Bibb

“Van has rocknroll pipes and is some kind of Beat/Fallaheen player. He could play a bit-part in Deadwood, or work on a road gang, easy – big shoulders, but he throws it all into music. He puts out!” Dave Graney

If recognition in music was determined by merit everyone would know his name.” Les Thomas, THESE MACHINES CUT RAZOR WIRE

“Like the best country records, at the heart of The Celestial Railroad lay a group of stories, some presumably autobiographical, others possibly metaphorical, but with a resonance that makes them relevant to all of us, regardless of the stage of life’s journey we’re currently on…. and a lyrical metaphor that would be right at home in the pages of a compendium of Australian poetry…” Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine

“Van Walker’s songs are completely original and completely self-assured – there are 15 songs and about 100,000 words on this (Celestial Railroad) record, and not one of ‘em out of place! Great picking, great singing, great songs, great record. One of the best things I’ve heard since Butch Hancock became a river guide!”                                                  Alex Morton @ The Last Record Store, Smith St, Collingwood

“An album (Greetings from Penguin Tasmania) as wild as the Taswegian wilderness.”

Album of the Week GREETINGS FROM PENGUIN TASMANIA (Beat Magazine August 2009)

Album of the Week BUSH LEAGUE BARD  ~ Beat Magazine August 2010

Four Stars: BUSH LEAGUE BARD ~ JB Hi Fi Magazine, August, 2010

‘Four albums all released within the past 18 months. If that’s not prolific I don’t know what is.’ Samuel J Fell, Inpress Magazine

‘There aren’t many songwriters prepared to claim the label of bard these days; like other english terms of yore, it’s usage has fallen victim to the rise of contemporary entertainment discourse, with it’s emphasis on personality & self-promotion. Van Walker is a bard in the classic sense of the term; & like a good bush league player, he’s packing plenty of punch.’ Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine

‘Songwriting isn’t so much something Van Walker does – it’s more something that defines what he is. From the way he works at his guitar playing, the way he structures his performance, his records and his life in general – it all seems to be a means geared toward the end that is some sort of ideal of an illusive classic song. Already he has scraped far closer to this end than many could ever, or will ever hope to get; in my opinion he has already penned a number of minor classics. The only album you’ll find with a better bunch of songs on it than this is his next one.’ Mick Thomas