Historian, writer and musician
Born into a family boasting six generations in Ballarat, Amanda is the granddaughter of former noted local tenor and conductor, Ern Vincent. Musically gifted, she played solo trumpet with the Ballarat Combined High Schools Band, Ballarat Concert Band and Ballarat Youth Orchestra. She performed in “the pit” for numerous shows at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat, and played cornet with the Ballarat Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Memorial Band.
As a lyric soprano (under the name Amanda Taylor), her competition wins included the Lyle Blackman Memorial Prize (Senior Vocal Aggregate) at Royal South Street in consecutive years, the Elsie Morision and Werner Baer Prizes (also RSSS) the Fletcher Jones Memorial Aria at Warrnambool, the Geelong Aria and the prestigious Armstead Singing Scholarship from the Music Society of Victoria.
She worked with the Victoria State Opera Company for six years, with Ballarat’s own David Hirschfelder on the soundtrack to the movie Shine, and appeared with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Melbourne Festival.
Her performances with the Ballarat Choral Society and Ballarat Symphony Orchestra met with critical acclaim, as did her leading roles in The Student Prince and Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Ballarat Begonia Festival Association.
All notable accomplishments, but there is another entirely different area in which Amanda has earned distinction. In 2000, she began researching men and women from the Ballarat district who served in the Great War. Initially, she concentrated on photographs and biographical information of those who died on active service, that database eventually totalled more than 2,500 names.
Her publications include Dinkum Oil: Letters Published in the Ballarat Courier During the Great War, released in 2006; Cannon’s Post, an unpublished biography of Ballarat artist, Ted Cannon; and The Broken Chain – a detailed Roll of Honour for Ballarat and District in the Great War (2018).
Amanda has made several trips to the Western Front battlefields of France and Belgium and military cemeteries in England where she has taken thousands of photographs for the families of the fallen. She is also a popular guest speaker, curated numerous exhibitions for the Central Highlands Library, and appeared in the SBS documentary Not Forgotten, which was narrated by Mark Lee, star of the iconic Australian film Gallipoli.
She is currently the sole administrator and principal contributor for the popular Facebook page, Ballarat and District in the Great War, for which she has written hundreds of short biographies about the generation of men and women who brought Ballarat to the world stage.
(In 2013, Amanda reverted to her maiden surname of Bentley).