The Tumbleweeds Profile

aka Cole Wilson and The Tumbleweeds
Chris Bourke
9 Nov 2013

The Tumbleweeds were hugely influential on country music in New Zealand, yet the group rarely ventured beyond its home base, Dunedin.

Their 1949 debut on Tanza, ‘Maple on the Hill’ – originally a “hillbilly” hit for USA act Zeke and Wade – became a standard for country performers, especially in the South Island. For decades, at amateur concerts and talent shows, it was almost compulsory for young artists to perform a rendition of the song.

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The Tumbleweeds as Colin McCrorie's Kalua Islanders
Western Song Hits, 1958
The Tumbleweeds with Tex Morton, Dunedin, 1950. From left: Bill Ditchfield, Tex Morton, Cole Wilson, Sister Dorrie, Nola Hewitt and Colin McCrorie.
Cole Wilson's double A-side single The Barman They Couldn't Sack b/w The Rise Of Jessie James, on Viking in 1959
Cole Wilson and The Tumbleweeds with their touring wagon 
Colin McCrorie's Kalua Islanders present the radio show Songs of the Islands, 1956. A spin-off group of the Tumbleweeds, they are, from left: Doug Reeve, Myra Hewitt, Cole Wilson, Nola Hewitt and Colin McCrorie.
One of half a dozen 78s issued by Tanza of The Tumbleweeds in 1950
The Tumbleweeds of Dunedin, 1950. From left: Doug Reeve, Cole Wilson, Nola Hewitt, Colin McCrorie.
Blackboard of My Heart

‘Maple on the Hill’ is alleged to have sold some 80,000 copies in the 1950s

‘Maple on the Hill’ was written in 1881 by in 1881 by the 18 year Gussie Davis, one of the USA's first successful African-American songwriters.


Cole Wilson - vocals, guitar

Bill Ditchfield - double bass

Myra Hewitt - vocals, steel guitar, guitar

Nola Hewitt - vocals, double bass, ukulele, guitar, mandolin

Colin McCrorie - guitar, vocals, lap steel