Dunborough Songfest 2021

The Dunsborough Songfest didn’t go ahead last year due to COVID. In fact, there is to be a discussion after the afternoon concerts on the way forward, given that we can expect that our COVID free status will change next year. This year we’ve been able to go ahead if there is no worldwide pandemic because our border controls are working.

We’ve had a very busy week, but yesterday morning we were in a great mood because we were setting off on another adventure in the van. I decided we should only take breakfasts, enough food for simple lunches, and the leftovers from the meal I cooked on Friday, and just buy the rest of our food. It made for a much simpler packing experience. There were still clothes and technology to pack, but we had filled up with water the day before and there just wasn’t as much to do. We were able to leave by about 10.00 a.m.

We went down the fast route of the freeway, then Forest Highway. This is mostly a four lane highway and there are roadworks happening to extend it, which will mean there is only a short section left to complete. It makes for fast and safe travel. We stopped at the John Togneti Rest Area for a coffee break and pushed on to Busselton for lunch. We had though of having fish and chips, but there was also a pleasant takeaway cafe, with some indoor seating, and we decided it felt better to be outdoors. There was no wind yesterday and the temperature was ideal, getting a little warmer during the afternoon, but comfortable all day.

I had a BLT and Stephen a bacon and egg roll. We shared a ginger beer with a twist, followed by a locally made icecream, all the while sitting looking out over the water. There has been extensive development of the foreshore, with the little train still running and a shark net for swimming. The new playground features a replica sailing ship and there is a new two story pub. The Visitor Centre is also located in this area.

We lingered until about 3.30 p.m. and set off for Dunsborough. We had a plan to try some wild camping up near the school which was the venue for last night’s concert. Initially we parked up just to test out the access. There was a wash away at the entrance, but by going to one side it was fairly smooth. Then up over a culvet. Our first parking spot was on a slope, but later a car moved and we went into the vacated spot, which was pretty level. We were within walking distance of the school, but decided to take the van down for the concert and it felt a little sketchy to leave it there in daylight.

Coming back in the dark was a bit of a worry, but we got into our parking spot without too much trouble. We were very glad to have worked it out in daylight. There had been a lot of comings and goings as we were in the parking area for a bike trail. One young person had reminded us that it wasn’t a camping area, which made us feel somewhat uneasy. But, the overnight was peaceful and we made the decision to go to nearby Meelup Beach at about 6.30 a.m. Of course, that meant we were at the beach when the ranger came and she thought we had camped there overnight. She told us gently that we should book into a caravan park for tonight.

As we had found the wild camping experience quite stressful we were only too happy to comply. After attending a 9.00 – 10.30 a.m. workshop we headed for the caravan park and booked ourselves in. We will have lunch here before heading out to one of the afternoon concerts. Last night’s concert was great because it was a taster of many of the different choirs and small groups who will be performing today and tomorrow. Many were excellent, a few so so, and one or two bad, but as they all sang only one song it made for an overall good experience. We met with Cherry who is singing here with her choir and also connected with someone who had come to our house in Cannington for a rehearsal. She remembered Matthew and also worked with Eversley at one stage and I think Eversley was also at that rehearsal.

This morning our workshop was with the Eneksis choir run by Michael McCarthy of WAPPA. He runs a continuous choir with students moving through their years and leaving as they graduate, so always changing students, but with the same wonderful outcomes. He took us through a long exercise to get in touch with our bodies, relax, and find our best voices, then we sang a couple of peices with the choir. The first one I knew, so it was fairly easy, but the second one was a challenge as we didn’t have enough copies of the music and I had never sung it before, though I’ve heard this choir sing it. Still, it was an incredible experience and I was able to sing much higher than I normally do due to the effect of being surrounded by good voices. Also because of the pre singing preparation. It reminded me how much I love singing this type of music, rather than just popular songs and the Working Voices repertoire.

Sunday morning at Dunsborough

After lunch at the caravan park we went to one of the venues to listen to choirs. We left before the end because unfortunately listening to community choir after community choir becomes quite dreary. We drove back to Meelup Beach and followed the carpark to the other side of the beach. Afternoon tea and a rest later we went for a walk along the path to the Castle Rock beach. It was quite warm and we were glad of having lots of trees and bushes for most of the walk. We saw a few kangaroos, including one with a joey in her pouch. She was the most wary of the roos, the others seemed used to people.

The evening concert at the primary school was great actually. We had a lively and funny presenter, back by popular demand from previous years, and most of the choirs were of a high standard. The Electric Barbercats stand out. I don’t like barber shop quartet music generally, but they were into sending it up, with funny songs that sounded like most barber shop music at the beginning, until they got into the lyrics. They produce a really good sound and it was very entertaining. Of course, we had Eneksis to finish off the evening.

Cherry, our friend from Victoria Park and Working Voices (who now lives in Northam) is attending with her choir and we caught up with her briefly on Friday night, but sat with her for the concert and had time for more catchup as the concert finished at about 9.00 p.m. Stephen was tired and a bit anxious to get ‘home’ as he wanted to do a workshop on being a choir director this morning, but bowed to our request to stay a bit later. The bar was open, there were savoury platters of food available, and some singing, although as you had to stand we gave up and sat at the tables to talk.

This morning we woke to another sunny day. Although we didn’t get up early we managed to get everything done and arrive back at the primary school 10 minutes before the workshop was due to start. The coffee van hasn’t arrive yet and I’ve made coffee in the van where I am sitting writing this blog. At the moment our plan is to skip the final concert and do some shopping before setting off to Contos, a national park campground about 60 kms south from here.