Legends of the Nepean: Charlie Boyter OAM

Charley Boyter OAM is an award-winning Country Music performer and has been entertaining audiences for almost 60 years.

Originally from Windsor, Charley was one of Australia’s infamous ‘Stolen Generation’, being removed from his Aboriginal family as a youngster, along with his brother and three sisters, and spending the rest of his childhood growing up in foster homes.

Describing himself as a troublesome child, Charley was moved to variety of foster homes, before joining the Horne family at the age of 8, where he would live until the age of 19.

Ada and Norman Horne also had four children of their own, providing Charley with replacement siblings during his childhood.


He began playing around with a guitar at the age of 15, jamming along with other pickers at a Church of Christ camp at Lake Illawarra. As his guitar playing improved, Charley started performing for church groups, playing and singing traditional Country and Bluegrass Gospel music.

Charley bought his first guitar and started performing with good friend Bruce Ohara, with the combo becoming known as ‘Country Sound’. The group expanded to include Rick Anderson, Colleen Trenwith (deceased), Paul Trenwith, Sue Chapman and Alan James (deceased).

The band released three albums, 12” records and cassettes.

Country Sound became more well known and started performing around Australia on a regular schedule, and were one of the first gospel bands to perform and record in the Sydney Opera House, supporting such international artists as Paul Stookey, Barry McGuire, Don Burroughs and George Golla.

The Stolen 5 – Charley, Sue-Ann, Sharon, Patricia, Doug.

The band was also approached to record some shows for Christian Television that were televised nationally and it was during this period of time Australian legend Slim Dusty AO MBE saw and heard Charley’s guitar playing and offered him a job with his show.

Charley joined Slim’s Travelling Country Band in 1975 as a Ballad Guitarist and Vocalist, touring most of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Charley recorded on a huge number of Slim’s albums, causing Slim to remark “Charley has played on more of my albums than any other guitarist”. The partnership with the Slim Dusty Show lasted from 1975 – 2001.

Charley recorded albums with many other great artists, such as Glenn Jones, Smokey Dawson, Jimmy Little, Col Hardy, Lee Kernaghan and family, and many more. He also performed in the USA at the Bell Witch Opry in Adams Tennessee. Other performances were with his good friend Ken Withington, the “Yodelling Pastor”. These shows were all in California and included Chino – China Lake Marine base – and Walnut, with the Stanley Bros.

Charley also supported international acts such as Andrae Crouch, Evie Tornquist, Tom T Hall and Michael T Wall from Canada. Charley is now a multi-award winning artist and his unique acoustic guitar sound can be heard on some Aussie Classics such as ‘Walk a Country Mile’, ‘Country Revival’, ‘Duncan’ and ‘Leave him in the Longyard’.

Chronologically, Charley began his musical career in the late 1960’s. In 1975, he joined the Slim Dusty ‘Travelling Country Band’.

In the 1980’s Charley travelled both in Australia and overseas with Slim and the Travelling Country Band, whilst also performing in his own band, ‘The Aussie Country Band & Bushfire’.

In 1986, Charley accompanied Slim Dusty and Joy McKean to the Solomon Islands, flown there and back by the RAAF in a Hercules C130.

Charley began his solo recording career in the 1990’s and was inducted into the prestigious ‘Hands of Fame’ in Tamworth. He also toured the US and was a member of Australia’s most famous bush ballad guitar picking touring trio, ‘The Legends of Guitar’ with Barry Thornton & Lindsay Butler.

Slim Dusty AO MBE and Charley Boyter OAM.

In 1993, Charley was inducted into the ‘Hands of Fame’ at Tamworth; in 2001 he won the ‘Kempsey Cedar Hat’ award for Services to Australian Country Music and, in 2011, Charley was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for Services to the Performing Arts as an Entertainer. Also in 2011, Charley was inducted into the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame (USA). He was then awarded the Kempsey Living Legend award in 2012 and was also inducted into the NTCMA Pioneer Music Museum in Anita, Iowa, USA.

In 2020, he was awarded the Dusty Boots, Richard Holmes award for Services to Country Music.

Also in the 2000’s, Charley began recording at Kross Kut Records and was nominated for a Gold Guitar for his duet with Alisha Smith, ‘Tanami Track’. His album ‘Play Charley’ won ‘Album of the Year’ from the NZ/Tasmania awards, Australian Country Recording awards, the NSW Gold Medallion, Gidgee Coals Awards and NTCMA and USA Rural Roots award. Charley also toured again in the USA and Europe.

Charley Boyter OAM and Dame Marie Roslyn Bashir AD CVO FTSE.

Charley has also devoted much of his life to Aboriginal Cultural Education and worked in Community Services for 20 years at the Parramatta Correctional Centre and Brush Farm Academy, teaching Aboriginal Cultural Awareness and working as a Careers Officer. He served in uniform for 13 years, then 7 years at Head Office.

Charley lives in Penrith with his wife Sandra, whom he met at his local Church of Christ and later married at the Uniting Church in Bathurst. They have two children, Allan and Sharon, and three grand-children.

Charley’s amazing story was still to get even more remarkable, with the popular television show ‘Find My Family’ managing to reunite him with all 4 of his siblings, after 55 years apart. The reunion of Charley, Beverly (now Sue-Ann), Douglas, Sharon and Patricia made for a heart-warming episode but more significantly, gave the five adults the opportunity to bond and reestablish their family connection.

Charlie Boyter OAM was nominated as a Legend of the Nepean by Tony Adamski.
If you know a local legend, send us a nomination at nepeannews@aol.com