The papers reflect Darby's interest and involvement in left-wing and nationalist politics over the period 1970-85, and his participation in union and community affairs from 1979-85. The Melbourne material relates mainly to La Trobe University groups, Students for Australian Independence (1976-77), Society for Australian Culture (1976-77), and the Australia wide, Australian Independence Movement. The Canberra material relates to radical and community groups, the Union movement (ACOA), and to the newsletters and newspapers these organisations produced, including Southern Cross. The Bowyang files include editorial and general correspondence, and documentation on all aspects of Bowyang's operation. There are subject files on topics relating to Darby's interests and activities.
Student activist. Robert Darby left La Trobe University in 1978 and joined the Public Service in Canberra. Darby was active in student political associations in Melbourne, and in radical and unemployment groups in Canberra. He served as editor or on the production side of a number of small circulation political-cultural periodicals, and was foundation editor, in 1979, of Bowyang. He was involved with the Communist Party, including the Marxist-Leninist group, 1974-82.