Sailor puts the PHUN in Hills ukelele club

In tune: Parramatta and Hills Ukulele Network founder Arthur Ongley and his wife Denise who'd never touched an instrument until joining the Phunsters. Picture: Gene Ramirez

In tune: Parramatta and Hills Ukulele Network founder Arthur Ongley and his wife Denise who'd never touched an instrument until joining the Phunsters. Picture: Gene Ramirez

HE was the sailor guitarist who set up a band wherever the Royal Australian Navy sent him — until the day he bought a ukelele with change from a Fender Stratocaster guitar purchase.

"I fell in love with it," Arthur Ongley said of the chance ukelele purchase he made in Hawaii in 2004.

In fact, he became so enamoured of the instrument made famous by singer-musician Tiny Tim that he hung up his guitar and started a club for ukelele lovers.

"In 2007, in Maui [Hawaii] I met a guy who'd opened up his own music shop and he told me that one of the things he was doing to connect with his community was teaching ukelele," Mr Ongley, of Northmead, said.

"I decided I wanted to do something like that in Australia.

"We call ourselves the Phunsters, because it comes from PHUN — short for Parramatta and Hills Ukulele Network."

About 11 beginner and experienced players turned out for the first meeting, held in the Ongleys' backyard in April 2008.

That quickly grew to 102 who now meet in the Baptist church at 84-94 Kleins Road, Northmead, at 3pm on the third Saturday of each month and 10am on the first and second Monday of each month.

Next month's Saturday meeting is on May 10, when members will also celebrate the club's sixth anniversary.

"It's an easy instrument to pick up; within half an hour you've got a couple of chords under your belt," Mr Ongley said.

■ Details: Call 9683 1996 or visit http://groups.google.com.au/group/PHUNsters.

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