A big day today - Jan and Pete Mate’s birthdays. After a nice
breakfast, neighbours Marie and Alan came over with their granddaughter.
Later we all got ready and went over to Scott (son) and Tara’s.
We enjoyed good company and a good lunch. On the way home we called
to see another son, Christopher, and his two daughters, Deone and
Jan and Ross’s friend Kristie came over to lunch today so I helped
out with the cooking. After lunch we all had a very pleasant swim to ‘lower
our core temperatures’. Well, it was pleasant until Pete Mate tried
to drown me, and not for the first time I might add!!!! Can't
take a joke, shouldn't have joined. Ed.
We went to Bribie Island today. It is a really nice place and we enjoyed
looking around. Another place on the list of ‘I could live here’
Lay day for me but Jan, Ross, Terri and Pete Mate climbed the Story
Bridge. I stayed at home as I am not very good with heights. They
had a marvellous time and they all came home on a high.
Today was ‘Jan and Pam’ day. For Jan’s birthday
we had treated her to a pamper package at the local beauty parlour
and as my birthday had been a non event due to Pete Mate being laid
up with his back, I went too. We had a really nice time having a facial
and massage and left there feeling good and looking more beautiful
than ever. We then had some lunch and did a little retail therapy.
A new member joined our family today - her name is Alice. Alice is
a GPS and is something Pete Mate has wanted for a long time. No more
getting lost!!! My map reading skills are no longer required. Am I
sad? No! We used it in the evening to find our way to Chris and Peter
Neech’s house. (Pete Mate used to work for Peter Neech many
moons ago). Alice performed very well and was a blessing, guiding
us safely home in the dark and rain. I was able to sleep all the way!
We had a very enjoyable evening with Chris and Peter.
It rained for most of the day but in the afternoon the sun shone long
enough for us to pack away our things ready for our departure in the
morning. In the evening we all went to the local Chinese restaurant
for a very nice meal.
We said our goodbyes to Jan, Ross and Terri then set off for Glen
Innes. It is always hard saying goodbye and this was especially hard
as we had loved being with them. However, we also knew that we will
be meeting up again in a few months to travel up the Queensland coast
together. Apart from the rain, we had a good journey with Alice telling
us where to turn and how far it was. Alice sometimes has a mind of
her own and you have to keep an eye on her. We arrived at the caravan
park late as we lost an hour (due to the time difference) once we
crossed the border into NSW. Alice and the mobile phone impressed
us by altering their clocks automatically as we entered the new time
zone. If only the TV and video would automatically adjust to the new
frequencies when we arrive in a new area! After receiving a friendly
welcome at Glen Innes we set up camp between some giant granite boulders.
The park is full of them and is such a pretty place, with trees and
lots of green. I think we will like it here.
We explored the town and surrounding areas. One place we went to was
called the Australian Standing Stones. These are granite monoliths
on a hilltop. There is a circle of 24 stones representing the hours
in a day. Three central stones represent Scotland, Ireland, the Isle
of Man; Wales, Cornwall, Brittany; and the Australis Stone for all
Australians. Four cardinal stones marking true North, South, East
and West. (These are correct because Pete Mate, who swore they were
wrong, checked them with Alice). Seven stones mark the summer and
winter solstices. From this you have probably gathered that there
is a strong British influence here, mainly Scottish. There was also
a wall where different people had placed rocks from different parts
of the UK, including two from Caernarfon and Blaenau Ffestiniog. After
all this culture we had a wander around town, checked out a pub and
then returned home.
We had a splendid day today. We set off around 11.30 a.m. for Glencoe,
a small town with a very Anglo Saxon tavern, the Red Lion. It was
built by a Scotsman in the 1960s. It was lovely; we received a warm
welcome and enjoyed a good lunch. We then went for a drive around
the surrounding area. Very beautiful scenery, green rolling hills
that could have been the lowlands of Scotland. Before returning to
the caravan we visited Beardy Waters because we had been told we could
see Platypuses there. We didn’t see any so we went home. Our
timing was good. Just as we got back into the car the heavens opened
and it poured down once again.
Today we took it easy before our travels tomorrow. It was very relaxing
to watch the tennis and catch up with my knitting. Retirement is wonderful.
In the afternoon we packed everything away ready for the morning.
We did intend to walk into town but time just flew by and before we
knew it it was happy hour!
We took our time getting ready this morning as we only had about 260
kms to travel. Our first stop was at Armidale, for lunch. We parked
the car and walked to the nearest group of shops looking for a coffee
shop and, of course, a toilet. We didn’t find the first but
we did find the latter which is always good! I chatted to a lady washing
her hands and asked her if she could point us in the direction of
a coffee shop. As it was soon established that I was a stranger she
decided to wait for me and take me to the main mall where all these
coffee shops were hiding. She was a very kind lady who not only walked
us to the mall but showed us where the Post Office was and gave us
the run down on the best coffee shops. She insisted we visited a mall
that had plenty of old timber and a stained glass window. Her parting
comment was that if we wanted the best and biggest steak in Australia
to visit the local Bowling Club. As instructed we went to said mall
and it was, indeed, very nice. We found a coffee shop at the end of
it and had a Caesar Salad each. Leaving the café we walked
around the centre of Armidale and liked it very much. We were taken
with the old buildings in the centre of town - there were many and
they were beautifully preserved. So much better than these modern
concrete blocks with no character whatsoever. Once on the road again
we passed through some really lovely scenery; NSW so far is very pretty
indeed. Our next stop was for a short coffee break after which we
headed for Tamworth and then north to Lake Keepit where we are booked
for the duration of the festival. (We left it too late to book into
the town). Lake Keepit is a very nice spot but full of rowdy people.
Well, actually only one or two are rowdy but they make enough noise
for the whole place.
What a night! The noise didn’t die down until the early hours
of the morning and the heat and humidity were unbearable. So on goes
the air-conditioner, then we are cold, then we switch the air-conditioner
off, then we were hot, yes you get the idea. Hence we slept in this
morning until 8.30. Heck, isn't that what retirement is for? We went
into the nearest town, Gunnedah, to do our shopping. As it was pouring
with rain and thunder and lightening we completed our task as quickly
as possible and then returned home.
14 th January
We exercised my New Year’s resolution this morning and went
for an early morning walk. Only trouble is there are now three of
us. Yep, Alice came too!!!!!! After breakfast the morning flew by
with cleaning and washing. Pete Mate made himself scarce by going
‘to have a look’ at the gliding club. His timing was impeccable,
he arrived home just as I was putting the lunch out. After lunch we
drove into Tamworth, and yes, with Alice. We were a little disappointed
as we expected a ‘carnival atmosphere’ but most of the
shops were closed and everywhere was very quiet and a little depressing.
We did however collect all the information for the festival so we
can sort through it and have some idea of the concerts we want to
Lay day. More washing. We had an accident in the caravan and the bedcover
had a drink of red wine. Luckily the stain came out and all is well.
I went through a lot of the leaflets and books for the festival and
there is so much going on it is a little overwhelming. There does
seem to be quite a few free concerts, including Kasey Chambers whom
we used to like but then found her music a little depressing. But
hey, she could be better live and it is free.
We had our early morning walk , all three of us. It took me all morning
to wade through all the information about the festival. I made a list
of the concerts we wanted to see. The Tamworth people have done an
really good job of complementing the costly concerts with lots of
free ones. After lunch we went into Tamworth. Firstly we called in
the information centre to buy tickets for the concerts we had chosen
then spent a very pleasant hour in the museum called ‘The Walk
of Fame’. It was really interesting and very well done (if you
like Country music). We then checked out the internet café
and,yes, at last we have found one that accommodates an old fashioned
laptop like ours. (Now the trend is moving towards wireless interfacing).
We then walked through the town, soaking up the atmosphere and listening
to the street buskers. The people were so friendly as well, a different
Tamworth to what it was on Saturday. We did some shopping, ate some
tea, had a drink in one of the many hotels playing Country Music and
then made our way to the venue for our first concert. This is what
they call a ‘walk up’ where musicians can just turn up
and perform, without getting paid. The donation we all made goes towards
the upkeep of the Australian Country Music Foundation in whose courtyard
the concert was held. At about 10.00 pm we headed back to Billy for
the trip home.
A lay day, we are worn out after our long day yesterday and we have
another long day tomorrow. I assure you the lay day was not planned
so I could watch the Australian Open with Lleyton Hewitt playing.
We went into Tamworth early as we had a few things to do before we
settled into the flow of things. There were a few buskers around and
some music in the hotels but not as much as we expected. The festival
doesn’t actually start until Friday so really we shouldn’t
expect too much. In the evening we attended a concert at the Town
Hall called ‘Young Guns’. This concert is a platform for
the young and up and coming stars to show Tamworth what they have.
Sadly some do not have it but, oh, some youngster do! We fell in love
with Kirsty Lee Akers. So young, so tiny and so good.
We went into Gunnedah to do some shopping and then relaxed for the
rest of the day.
Big day today - we started it by going to the free Toyota concert
and giveaways. We arrived too late for the tickets to the big concert
and saw the queue for a free hats. I did not want a free hat that
badly. The music was good and, lo and behold, who was performing but
Kirsty Lee Akers. So we bought her CD (which we have played and played)
and I had my photo taken with her. From there we went to the West
Leagues Club to see a group recommended by a local. Treacle Line were
not only great musicians but very amusing as well, we enjoyed their
concert immensely. We then arrived in the town in time to grab a bite
to eat and make our way to the opening concert in the park. The concert
was really good apart from the usual speeches . There was heaps of
good music, including Kirsty Lee, but the crowning glory was Tania
Kernaghan. We like her though are not over keen, but she is a really
good showman and knows how to sing and play her audience. We had a
really good day and all the concerts we attended were free. Can’t
get better than that!
We packed a picnic lunch and headed out to explore the countryside.
We had read about Manilla so that was first on our list. Manilla,
ah well, another country town, nothing spectacular, but the countryside
surrounding the town is absolutely lovely. Our destination for the
day was ‘The Smallest Country Music Festival’ at the RSL
in Barraba. Pete Mate and I have decided we are both deaf as he didn’t
hear me say it started at 4.00pm and I didn’t hear me say it
was on all day!!!! Therefore we arrived about two hours early. Not
to be fazed by this hiccup in the plan, we sat in the air-conditioning
having a drink watching the Australian Open tennis on TV. At last
the music started . . . well they called it music. We called it ???????????
So we left and headed in to Tamworth. While dining in a restaurant,
Ernie Dingo walkd in for a ‘feed’ - his words, not mine.
He was a really nice chap and very friendly. After dinner we had a
wander around listening to the buskers and music coming from all the
hotels. The music is so plentiful that unless you are standing in
front of the musicians the sounds of different artistes meld into
one noise and at first I found it too much. I am getting used to it.
Another late night.
Needed to do some chores and have a rest today, so it was a lay day.
All these late night are taking their toll. Anyone who knows me knows
that after 10.00pm I am useless and most nights we are not getting
home until midnight.
Breakfast at West Leagues Club to watch The Sommers Family. The Sommers
Family was not having a good day. One chap said he arrived with two
G strings and then hastily added he meant on his guitar. The girl
singing seemed to be having a problem with her throat which was a
shame as she had a nice voice and then they had enormous trouble keeping
their instruments tuned. We all have bad days and that is bad enough
but when you have a bad day for all the world to see, well, it can’t
be much fun. We did, however, enjoy a couple of the other acts and
then we had a wander around the tents and pavilions outside. We found
a T-shirt place and bought a matching pair. I am sure a photo will
appear on the website of us wearing these. We then went into town
where we had a couple of errands to do. We had to park the car some
distance away so had to walk and walk, then walk again in 37°C
heat. Once business was concluded, Pete Mate declared he needed a
cold beer. Who am I to argue with that, so we headed for the nearest
hotel. We couldn’t even get in the door. On to the next one.
We managed a drink and luckily enough, a seat. Believe me these are
like hens teeth in this town at this time. You generally have to keep
your eye on the room and then dive in as soon as someone moves. We
decided to have a sandwich whilst we were there. I went in search
of food whilst Pete Mate guarded our table. I found musicians in three
different rooms all playing at the same time, before I found the food
upstairs and yet another musician playing. Pete Mate wanted to find
somewhere quiet to use the phone, a near impossible task but he managed
it and phoned Pam and Dave Woodward (Beverley Soaring Society people)
whom we found out were in Tamworth. So we went off to have a drink
and a chat with them at their motel. We then headed home as it was
already 7.30pm and we had been out since 7.00am.
Another early start for us, brunch whilst listening to Poets and Balladeers.
We had tickets for this show and even though I told Pete Mate it started
at 10.00am and not 10.10am (as it really did), we still arrived late.
This time it wasn’t Bloody Alice’s fault - the driver
decided not to follow her instructions. Anyway the show was good but
the food wasn’t up to much. After leaving we checked out a caravan
park in Tamworth for next week (when the festival crowd has departed)
and then parked the car a little out of the centre of town but we
need the exercise. We listened to more music and frequented a couple
of hotels. In one we ate a late lunch and then left without paying.
I though Pete Mate had paid and he thought the reverse. Anyway, dear
Reader, it will be rectified on Thursday when we are back in town.
(Will she ever learn? Ed.) After more music and a wander through town
we headed home for dinner. It again had been a long day and I, for
one, am pretty exhausted. Too much fun.
A lay-day. One of the reasons we have an occasional lay-day is that
we are 55 kilometres out of town so it is not only a drag driving
in, but expensive too. This is our last lay-day of the festival as
we have something to see for the rest of the week and on Monday, when
the festival is over, we are moving into town to stay another week
or so. If we come again next year we will arrive early and try and
get a camping spot in town. As it turned out it was a ‘well
planned’ lay-day as we have had heavy rain with thunder and
Australia Day. First thrill of the day was a visit to the Power House
Museum. Well one of us was thrilled. After a few minutes it was evident
that this was not going to be a five minute job so I took off into
the main part of town to do some serious clothes shopping and to pay
for a lunch we had (accidentally) consumed without paying a couple
of days earlier. Everywhere was so busy that I couldn’t find
the clothes I wanted so I took refuge in the internet café.
Coffee was good and we did have one or two emails. I started to answer
them and realised my time was running out, so I raced back to the
museum only to find Pete Mate having a personalised conducted tour
of the place. I sat on a wall and read my newspaper until a kind gentleman
found me a chair in a cool place. One hour later Pete Mate emerged
smiling from ear to ear . . . “That was great”.
It was well and truly lunchtime now so we headed back to the restaurant
from we hade previously absconded. We enjoyed a nice meal with a couple
of drinks and then paid an exorbitant price as it was a public holiday.
(So much for honesty! Ed.) Won’t be eating there again as it
wasn’t that special anyway.
We had our usual wander and listened to the buskers then headed down
to the Bicentennial Park for the Australia Day concert. We were there
in plenty of time to position our chairs at the front row. The concert
started with a song from each of the young finalist of the ‘Telstra
Road to Fame Competition’. Of course Kirsty Lee was there as
one of the winners and she is now off to Nashville, all expenses paid.
The rain decided to descend at this point in the proceedings, so the
concert was put on hold and we were soaked. (Ever eaten a picnic tea
in the pouring rain? Let’s say the sandwiches were moist). Being
resilient Australians on Australia Day we decided to tough it out
and wait for the rain to stop, cursing the fact that the car was miles
away and inside it was an umbrella keeping dry! When the rain ceased,
which was only about half an hour later, the concert resumed. The
second part of the concert consisted of well known musicians. One
Irish and Scottish group were completely mad, they had the audience
singing ridiculous words, they were dancing up and down the aisle
and we all had a good time. Jimmy Little performed, which particularly
pleased me as he is a favourite of mine. Keith Potger made his country
music debut; he was okay but I preferred him as a ‘Seeker’.
The concert (for us) finished with a Bushwackers performance. We loved
it - we first saw the Bushwackers twenty odd years ago and loved them
then. There were only two of the original group remaining but they
are still great entertainment. Their act finished with ‘I am,
we are, Australian’ which we all sang along to and waved our
Australian flags. As we all sang the final words of the song there
was a loud bang which heralded the statrt of the firework display.
It was really good and we thought that was the end of the evening’s
entertainment. But no, there was more. We should have stuck to our
first thought (that the concert had finished) as the group were loud,
young and decidedly not our taste in music. It appeared that a lot
of other people felt the same way as there was a mass exodus and we
tagged along. What a day, what a week and there is more tomorrow.
We had to be in town for the Irish concert by 11.00 a.m., and guess
what? We made it! Alice can now revert back to being called Alice
instead of Bloody Alice. We were a little dubious as we took our seats,
the place was a bowling club and reminded us a little of Barraba.
We needn’t have worried, from the beginning to the end it was
great entertainment. The show consisted of comedians (as they were
all funny), plus dancers and singers. The Irish have the ability to
enjoy themselves at any time of the day or night and we had a thoroughly
good time. I, for one, had tears in my eyes when the songs Maggie,
Danny Boy and Steal Away were sung with such emotion and magnificence.
Leaving, we ate lunch in the car whilst travelling to the next venue,
Wests League Club, to see the group Treacle Line for the second time.
I really love their bluegrass music. Pete Mate likes it but not as
much as me. Having said that I bought a CD, so he can learn to love
it! I am so kind.
Two hours later we left Wests and headed into the centre of town.
On the way we diverted into yet another shop selling computers. Once
in town we had a meal at the Hog’s Breath Café. I had
always said I would never eat in a place with a name like that but
the town was so busy we decided the first place we could get a seat
was where we would eat. It wasn’t too bad really and when I
went to pay I got chatted up by an Irishman who said I had lovely
eyes, and more which we won’t go into. Did I mention he was
very drunk? We then made our way to the park yet again for another
free concert, this time featuring Kasey Chambers. We quite like one
or two of her records - well, we used to. Ten minutes after the concert
started we knew we needed to be elsewhere, anywhere but here in the
park! Trouble was we were totally blocked in and had to endure two
hours of loud raucous noise that was depressing. Never again.
We were supposed to be in town for 9.30 a.m. but were so tired we
didn’t leave home until then and we had a 55 kilometre drive,
then park the car miles away and walk into town as the police had
closed the road. Needless to say we missed the line dancing and the
first part of the parade. Once all that was over we looked for a cup
of coffee. We found a ‘Gloria Jeans’ and had to wait about
half an hour for our coffee. Those girls worked so hard they must
have been exhausted. Pete Mate went off to see if he could move the
car closer as the road block would now have been removed. I had a
wander around, met up with him again and went for lunch. We escaped
the heat of the day by attending a special screening of the Johnny
Cash movie, ‘Walk the Line’. I enjoyed it but Pete Mate
was a little sad that his hero was portrayed as a drunk, drug-taking
idiot. When we emerged into daylight we had a choice - go to the park
for another concert or go home. We went home. We decided we had had
enough of the festival and the crowds were getting to be a little
too unbearable for us.
We were going to drive into town for the final concert of the festival
but we were fair pooped - absolutely exhausted - so we stayed home,
relaxed, and watched the tennis final in the evening. Looking back
we have had a wonderful 10 days and would definitely do it again.
We enjoyed so much music, most of it free, and met some lovely people.
Next time we will camp in town as the constant 110 kilometre round
trip is what wore us out!
We moved the caravan into Tamworth without any dramas. In the afternoon
we went into town to do some supermarket shopping and to look at computers.
We came home with the food and a new computer. We have been looking
at computers for a week or so as our old trusty one keeps crashing.
It is going to be doubly hard to get Pete Mate out of the caravan
in the next few days. You know the saying, men and their toys!!
We eventually left the caravan as we had a few errands to do in town,
one being the Internet. We are still working on the old system until
the new computer is fully conversant with the way Pete Mate and I