Varney Monk was a pianist and prolific composer, and an active champion of Australian music and musicians. She composed her first song, When Roses Fall, in her early teens, and in 1923 won The Sunday Times song competition with The Old Bush Track. She felt very strongly that Australian history provided a rich wealth of material for plays, films and literature and that it was possible to give Australian audiences something which was different, but at the same time essentially their own.
In 1913, she married the violinist Cyril Monk (1882-1970), with whom she had two children. She was able to maintain an active output of songs whilst fulfilling her duties as wife and mother. During the course of her career, Monk produced over 150 songs.
In collaboration with Sydney journalist Tom Stuart Gurr (1877-1960), Monk wrote the first professionally-produced Australian musical comedy, Collits' Inn. The fact that the setting was not an exotic foreign location, but one based on Australia's colonial past had an enormous impact on Australian audiences of that time. Staged by F.W. Thring (1883-1936) and starring soprano Gladys Moncrieff (1892-1976), the musical premiered at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne in 1933, where it ran for seven months. It subsequently ran for three months at the Sydney's Tivoli Theatre. Monk's second musical comedy, The Cedar Tree, followed in 1934. Although warmly received, it did not receive the same critical acclaim that had been afforded Collits' Inn.
Monk set to music the poems of several Australian poets, including those of Henry Lawson (1867-1922) and Henry Kendall (1839-1882), in addition to composing works with her own lyrics. In 1966 she won the Henry Lawson Festival Song Award at Grenfell for her song A World of Wattle.