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spindrift in Australia - a recap

Charley Noble 22 May 06 - 12:37 PM
JennyO 22 May 06 - 11:13 AM
spindrift 21 May 06 - 10:03 PM
Charley Noble 21 May 06 - 05:46 PM
Nigel Parsons 20 May 06 - 08:24 AM
Sandra in Sydney 20 May 06 - 07:22 AM
spindrift 19 May 06 - 10:37 AM
stallion 19 May 06 - 05:22 AM
JWB 18 May 06 - 10:58 PM
Charley Noble 18 May 06 - 09:29 PM
GUEST,spindrift 18 May 06 - 07:16 PM
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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 May 06 - 12:37 PM

JennyO

How about an early reservation for the fall of 2007?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble and JudyB


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: JennyO
Date: 22 May 06 - 11:13 AM

Hi Al and Barbara! I've been meaning to post here, and answer your email (loved your photo of Al playing his Martin at the airport), but I've only had short bits of time, and I wanted to reply properly. This will have to do for now.

It was great having you here - I treasure that time - the BBQ, the folk club, Margaret's session, Badde Manors, the National. Your descriptions above help to bring it all back. You guys are one of the reasons it was my best National ever. I'm only sorry I didn't catch up with you on the last day to say goodbye. It sounds like you had many more exciting experiences after that, while I was at another festival.

By the way, out of several different airlines I've been on, Qantas had the most cramped and uncomfortable seats, AND it was more expensive. If you can summon up the courage to come again some time, I'd recommend Korean Air or Malaysian Airlines. Korean was particularly good when I went with them a few years back - comfortable seats with more legroom and great service with some nice little touches. I hope we do see you again some time.

Sooo....the BBQ in Earlwood is waiting for the next lovely Mudcatter(s). Who will it be next???

Jenny


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: spindrift
Date: 21 May 06 - 10:03 PM

Sandra
I think I said before I left that " If I could drive all tne way we'd be there for the National again. But I don't think I could do that Qantas ride again at least not in Economy class .


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 May 06 - 05:46 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 May 06 - 08:24 AM

And there was I expecting a science fiction thread, based on Irwin Allen's "Land of the Giants"

Oh well!

CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 20 May 06 - 07:22 AM

a holiday of a lifetime!

so, when will you be back?

sandra


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: spindrift
Date: 19 May 06 - 10:37 AM

One more thought.
We did this trip with a Little Martin guitar. Wonderful guitar for travelling. Best way I can recall for passing the time while waiting in airports. I think the composite construction would make it a bit more tolerant of travel stress than most instruments. Anyone have any thoughts on that.


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: stallion
Date: 19 May 06 - 05:22 AM

wow, thanks for sharing that with us Al
Regards
Peter


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: JWB
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:58 PM

Spindrift,

Thanks for the mini-vacation. What a great journal of your trip. I'm going to have to get out your way sometime and help you drink that Muscat :0)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 May 06 - 09:29 PM

Very nicely done!

Sounds like it was a wonderful experience.

Do post a link to digital images soon!

Charley Noble


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Subject: spindrift in Australia - a recap
From: GUEST,spindrift
Date: 18 May 06 - 07:16 PM

Spindrift in Australia - a recap

After a mind numbing 36 actual hours in airline custody for the return trip from Melbourne to Sydney to Auckland to Los Angeles to New York at the end of April, my brain is now sufficiently unscrambled to permit a review of an absolutely marvelous visit to Australia - wonderful place, wonderful people and great folk music. Our original purpose was to visit old friends in Canberra where we lived for nine months in 1978-79. We planned to arrive around the time of the National Folk Festival.

Charlie Noble originally suggested to us that we try to establish some folk contacts through Mudcat and what a tremendous enhancement to our trip that turned out to be. We spent three and a half weeks "down under"and we'll never forget it.

We were in Sydney for six days and as soon as we arrived had telephone messages from Jenny-O and a visit from Bob Bolton delivering maps covering the next few days events. This was just the beginning of a very warm welcome. Highlights of our time in Sydney included:

• The Earlwood bbq where we met Jenny-O, Sandra, John Warner and many
others. The singing was good and John was amazing with his songs for any            occasion. When Barbara said, that when laughing he looked liked Santa Claus, John came back with a song that said he most certainly did not look like Santa Claus.

• Bob Bolton's volunteering to drive us to any of the harder to find venues on our schedule. Generally we got around very well with our bus / ferry passes but Bob's kindness was very much appreciated. It also turns out that he knows almost everything about almost everything. When I asked about the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo, he started off with the latin names for each and then went on from there. Essentially they are about the same but the wallaby is small. Bob also tracked down a source for us to get the re-released Harry Robertson cd "Whale Chasing Men." This was no small accomplishment since we had already tried the big music stores in Sydney, the National Library and the vendors at the Folk Festival in Canberra.

• The concert at Jenny-O's folk club (Cornucopia Café) featuring Cloudstreet & George Papavgeris (El Greko), amazing performers who were also featured at the National the following week. Barbara & I were really excited to do a short set before the main event. We did Hughie Jones' "WCSA", Charlie's "Yangtze River Chantey" and Bill Meek's "Loss of Laforey." The audience came in really strong on Charlie's song.

• The house concert at Margaret Walters place with more good singing and a chance to meet more of the "Roaring Forties"group. New York's Jerry Epstein was the featured performer here.

• Breakfast at "Bad Manors" with Jenny-O where she expanded our cappucino understanding to include "babycino" & "muggacino." Good food here but more than most could finish.


Then we moved on to Canberra to see old friends and to attend the National Folk Festival. The drive down (4 hours with a stop for tea & scones) was shorter than I remembered. The roads are more like our interstate highways now. It's still beautiful country with plenty of that grey-green eucalypt color that we always associate with Australia. Many of the other trees are showing Autumn colors which seems strange to us as we anticipate Spring. The last time I was in the Canberra area there were about 4 wineries. Now there must be 40. Stopped at one at random (Lerida) and sampled a few. I thought they were excellent and we bought a half dozen. Driving on the other side of the road proves to be more of a challenge than I remember. But we made the trip without major incident.


Staying with our former neighbors, the Gare's, was very comfortable. It seemed like we had just been away from good friends for awhile and now we had returned. Both Neville and Joan are very active and happy people - Nev with his choral group and Joan with her flower business. Spent some time catching up on family stuff and exchanging photos. Our old house, doesn't look as well cared for as we remembered it, but the neighborhood in Campbell, one of the older suburbs, is still beautiful. Walked down to the shops by a path through the woods / fields that I used to take most mornings to buy the newspaper. I remembered the sounds of the Australian birds that we missed when we came back to the US so many years ago.


The National started with a concert on Thursday night. It was a great introduction to the music and performers that would be featured over the next four days. I would estimate that about a thousand people were there. Audio / visual (large screen video) arrangements were great and they started on time - amazing.


For the next four days we were at the festival grounds from about 9 to 10 am until about 11-12 pm. It was wonderful. We were never bored and there was always something good to see or do. Only the requirement for sleep drove us away. I know the singing goes on until the wee hours but we weren't quite up to that. Here are some of our highlights.



• Sandra from Sydney put us on to the best food at the festival. She recommended Spaghetti Junction, German Kitchen (sausages), and Troubadour (jaffles). All were wonderful. You could also buy a bottle of excellent wine at Troubadour for about $20A and take it over to Spaghetti Junction to have with your pasta.

• Danny Spooner & Margaret Walters - these were our favorite performers and we generally followed them around wherever they were playing. Danny's introduction of his new cd "The Great Leviathan" was particularly good.

• The Session Bar - mudcatters rendezvous at lunchtime each day. (Bob Bolton made Mudcat badges for Barbara & me). Saw Jenny-O and Sandra here most days and met Kevin & Jennie (mudcatters) who suggested Dennis O'Keefe's "Aussie Songs" session. I knew many of the old "bush songs" a long time ago and still remembered enough to sing along on most choruses and play along (softly) on guitar. Also met mudcatters Mem & another Kevin who were an enthusiastic part of Dennis' support group. This session was something I went back to each day at the festival. I even tried my hand at strumming along with a fiddle tunes session for an hour or so and liked that also.

• Poet's Breakfast - we discovered this event by accident halfway through the festival and made a special effort to get up a bit earlier to come again. Bush recitations and original poetry with your breakfast at Troubadour. What a way to start your day. Anyone whose pulse picks up a bit hearing "The Man From Snowy River" or "Clancy of the Overflow" would really like this.


• The night time singing circles above the sessions bar, usually moderated by Duncan Brown. Different songs and familiar ones often done in a different way. A lot of very talented people participated. We finished up every night at the festival here - only wished we could have stayed longer.


The last day of the festival (Monday) seemed a bit slow with, I believe, a lot of people sleeping in or leaving early for a long drive back to the real world. What a marvelous event it was and I particularly liked the emphasis on participation by so many attendees.

While we were in Canberra we managed to meet with four families we knew from so many years ago, our neighbors, the Gares, the Irelands, who have now retired to a beautiful spread south of Queenbeyan replete with horses and kangaroos, the Baenishes ( a retired RAAF family who took me to my first bush picnic) and the Larkhams (Bruce gave me my first tennis lesson and started me on 25 years of active playing - his son Todd came to the US Tennis Open in New York in the early '90's and had the bad luck to draw Pete Sampras as his opponent on center court in the main stadium in the first round on national TV. Like most Aussies would, he gave it a good go.) We left Canberra early on Tuesday with an emotion filled parting from the Gare's. I think we all knew that we wouldn't be coming back this way again.

We had a planned rendezvous with Danny Spooner and his wife Gael at their folk club in Guildford,Victoria on Wednesday evening. With two days in hand, we decided to forego the direct route via the Hume Highway and see a less travelled part of the country. We headed for the coast at Bateman's Bay and then south right around the coast to Melbourne and then back up to Guildford. A beautiful day for driving with great vistas and the remarkable Australian beaches with very fine sand, and no human footprints. We walked a bit on the beaches at Narooma and stopped at Tilba winery just south of there for a bit of tasting and purchase of a few bottles. Their muscat was $2 off because they had run out of labels. Stopped at Eden for the night at Coachmen's Rest. Mussels & bugs and snapper with a McGuigan's Chardonay for a delightful dinner, where we met Cyril and Barbara from northern NSW - tourists on their way back home

We started out on Wednesday morning with a visit to the remarkable whaling museum at Eden. I had seen the tale of the cooperation of the shore based whaling fleet at Eden with the killer whales, on the History Channel about a year before. The story is well told here with Old Tom's skeleton being a prominent exhibit. Really loaded up in the museum store with books, t-shirts etc. for grandsons.Then, on the road again, leaving the beaches for the rolling hills and eucalypt forests enroute to Melbourne. A bit of traffic in Melbourne but we were only about twenty minutes late for our rendezvous with Danny & Gael in Guildford.

More good singing at the folk club in Guildford from about 8 to 11. Nice venue in the back room of a pub with good pizza & beer. Duncan Brown was there and I remember also Pam, Ross and Jane. Good musicians and a lot of different instruments.

Spent the night at Danny & Gael's home in Daylesford. On Thursday we went out to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat for a look at the Gold Rush era of the 1850's. The best parts were tea & scones at the American Hotel, a ride around the diggings and the town in a Cobb & Co. coach, and a trip down into a deep mine with a fascinating description of the mining operations of the time. A bush band playing on the main street was surprised to meet Yanks familiar with "Flash Jack From Gundagai." We had a great dinner that night with Gael at a local club while Danny was working in Melbourne.

Friday we drove down to Melbourne and settled into the Y-Hotel right in the city center, Danny's recommendation and a really good one. Friday evening was to be a dinner at the Celtic Club near our hotel in Melbourne celebrating the adoption of the 8 hour work day in Australia. Conversation at dinner preceding the presentation was very interesting. I think that Australians are more sophisticated in their politics than Americans and illustrate their causes using humor more than rancour. John Walker showed the same style when we met in Sydney. Gael had done the research and organization for that evening's presentation and was the moderator It was a masterful performance blending stories of the labor movement starting with miners'rights and Eureka Stockade with newpaper accounts and other quotes of the time with folk music. Danny, Duncan and Beth were the supporting musical cast.    I was thrilled at how well this bit of history was presented in such a balanced and entertaining way. Then it was farewell, and Barbara & I were on our own for the last five day's of our trip.

On Danny's recommendation we decided to drive the Great Ocean Road and then perhaps come back in time to spend a few days in Melbourne.

We started out on Saturday morning in Melbourne browsing our way through the Queen Victoria Market close to our hotel. Then onto the road to the south toward Geelong. Surprised to see wineries in the vicinity of Geelong but we tried a few. Pettavel winery had a lovely dining room with a pleasant view and we stopped for a combination wine tasting and lunch. We met the coast at Torquay and this was really our first look at the Southern Ocean. The road winds inland for much of this first stretch but Airey's Inlet was beautiful and we made an early stop when we reached Lorne.

Dinner was simple that night and we were in a mood for a break from the pace of the last few weeks. Our innkeeper at Lorne was a most interesting man who fed the cockatoos in the evening and the kookaburras in the morning. These are tough dangerous birds but he fed them by hand like they were sparrows or pidgeons. Barbara got some great closeup photos.

The Great Ocean Road extends for 400 km along Victoria's south coast. Beyond the shoreline is the Southern Ocean and Antartica. It has a history of whaling, sealing, coastal trading and shipwrecks. The red cliffs eaten away by the sea are an awe inspiring sight. Driving along this coast on Sunday we took a brief detour near Kennett River to see koalas in the wild. I think it was Gael who told us about this turnoff at a caravan park. And sure enough there they were. I counted about 10 in about a half kilometer. And they were right close up, moving from branch to branch eating the leaves. I had only seen them before as little lumps sleeping in the junction between tree trunk and branch at great distance . We continued along the shore line, cutting through the magnificent forest, to the lighthouse at Cape Otway and spent considerable time looking at the sea and walking the grounds. This light marks the western entrance to the dangerous Bass Strait. The remains of an early World War II radar site are still on the Cape and America's first casualties of that war occurred with the sinking of a freighter by a German floating mine offshore from the Cape in June of 1940. We pressed on for an overnight stay at Port Campbell, planning to use that town as a base to see more of this "shipwreck coast."Had a good dinner in the pub that night - not much else was open on a Sunday evening as the Autumn weather approaches.

The next day, Monday we spent the whole day touring this wonderful coast with lengthy stops at the Twelve Apostles (only 8 left standing), Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and others. The Loch Ard Gorge was named for a famous shipwreck in 1878. Only a single passenger survived, a young girl who was found in a cave on the shore. Sunday night at dinner in the pub, we had met two of her grandchildren. London Bridge is only half there since one span collapsed in 1990, with a couple of tourists having to be rescued by helo from the remaining span which was no longer attached to the mainland.

Late in the day we revisited Cape Otway for the Otway Fly - a walk of several miles through a rain forest, first at ground level then at increasingly higher levels giving a wonderful change of perspective as one gets higher. We closed out the day at London Bridge waiting for the Fairy Penguins to come ashore for the night. It happens just after sunset as it gets darker and darker. We never saw them, but we were with people who claimed they saw them at a distance of about 100 yds even though there was not much moonlight. These penguins are only about 8 inches tall so it requires remarkable eyesight or a vivid imagination.

Tuesday morning we decided that we would go northeast to get a look at the Ned Kelly country around Glenrowan and the world famous Rutherglen wineries. It was Anzac Day and we stopped for the parade & memorial service in Camperdown - a very moving experience. Eric Bogle's famous song ends on the idea that year by year the old veterans disappear and "soon no one will march there at all." But now throughout Australia, children of veterans are marching with photos of their fathers and grandfathers.

In the area around Camperdown there are large lakes that are brackish because of the depressions formed by collapsing volcanos being filled with rainwater runoff through the surrounding land which was once a shallow salt sea. Had a good lunch in a pub near Campbelltown and were again pleased at how easy it is to strike up a conversation with the locals. Stayed overnight in Bendigo where Barbara was delighted to find we had wireless internet access for email etc.

Got an early start on Wednesday morning and arrived at Glenrowan about 10:30. Went through the Kelly museum but it was generally disappointing. Most of the exhibits were difficult to decipher - perhaps because I'd forgotten my glasses. In the town there were markers showing some of the key locations of the Kelly's last stand. Then on to Rutherglen to visit the Bill Chambers winery and Morris winery also. I've always been an admirer of Australian Muscat's and these are among the best, and very pricey. Bought a few anyway and then it was an easy drive back to Melbourne where we turned in our automobile and stayed at an airport hotel. One last dinner at the hotel and then we left a wake-up call for 4am so we could then turn ourselves over to Qantas for transport back to the States.

Overall we drove about 4000 km. and saw a good bit of country. Much of the travelling was enhanced by the cd music of John Warner, Harry Robertson, Margaret Walters, the Roaring Forties, Danny Spooner and the Great Bushwacker's Band. But the best part of the trip was the people we met and those we sang with; many of them mudcatters. Thanks particularly to Jenny, John, Sandra, Bob, Margaret, Danny and Gael. I hope we have the opportunity to repay your many kindnesses.


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Mudcat time: 16 May 6:53 PM EDT

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