The National has ended: Day 33

It is Monday morning (23rd April, 2019) and we feel a bit flat. We spent the last two days really getting into the music and events and being ‘cut off’ is quite difficult. Stephen is feeling in two minds about going to Sydney. The Writers’ Festival has mainly ticketed events and it doesn’t look like we can enjoy very much without beginning to pay. And many of the speakers are featured on ABC radio, which we can listen to for free.

We want to do a coast to coast journey and he is thinking of Wollongong as an alternative. But a decision has not yet been made. We feel anxious about driving into Sydney even though our caravan park is on the Western edge of the city and we don’t have to drive into the centre to get there.

We have had a wonderful time here. There is very good music and the performers are unafraid to express their views on climate change and other social issues. Very refreshing. We feel surrounded by our kind, especially as most of the campers are grey haired folk like us. Or, if not grey haired, then obviously dyed hair!

On Sunday evening in our Facetime session with Matt I found out how to turn on a special effect of turning us into animated comic book characters, recognisably us, but a great deal more glamorous. Matt really enjoyed this view of the aged parents and we needn’t have worried he would find it alienating.

We had a storm yesterday afternoon. We had just made it back to the van for our rest. I took my coffee outside under the awning in order to enjoy seeing the rain come down. Within a few minutes I was back inside as the rain became so heavy that it was coming into that area. Our washing, which was almost dry, got damp and everything under the awning got wet. Even after the rain stopped we had constant rolling thunder. We couldn’t see lightning. We could also hear a very loud sound which we though was an alarm or electrical noise, but turned out to be the joyous sound of millions of crickets rejoicing in the wet.

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The storm cleared in time for us to make it back to the festival area and although there has been a bit of drizzle since, the rain appears to have left. This morning is grey and looks dampish outside. We were hoping for sun to help get things dried out, but it doesn’t really matter.

We want to do a bit of shopping before we head out to wherever it is we are going. We don’t have any further information about Mum, so that is not a factor. Even if we go to Sydney it isn’t very far from here, about 300 kms, and does not add much distance to a return journey to Perth.

We went to the stock camp twice, once for morning tea and once for lunch. We watched a dance group from Canberra.

We listened to some Australian songs by a sweet old timer at the Troc. And we attended the farewell concert. Included in the programme were the choir, strings group and percussion group made up of ordinary folk having a chance to perform on the main stage, as well as some prize giving, drawing of the raffle, and some short sessions with groups we had seen before.

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We shared a pear cider at the Bohemia Bar whilst waiting for the final concert.
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Stephen at the Bohemia



A ride on the new light rail: Days 30 and 31

Saturday 20th April, 2019

Our ride wasn’t quite what we had hoped, but perhaps what we might have expected. The station is located close to do venues, EPIC where we are and the racecourse. The consequence is that there is quite a walk from the entrance to the station from each. EPIC could open a gate close to the station and will hopefully do so in the future.

The train was very crowded with families wanting to experience the new trains. Children not used to being on public transport hemmed in with adults were quite distressed. I was offered a seat late in the journey, but we could see that parents with unhappy little kids needed seats to provide cuddling and reassurance. When we arrived in town we could see long lines of people waiting to catch the trains out of the city. Fortunately we could still catch the bus, and after a coffee break and shopping, that is what we did.

We also decided to try out the shuttle bus back to our campsite, and that has become our preferred way of getting to and from our campsite. Ruth has made it back to the Festival and we continue to see Pam and Eleanor around the place.

Stephen reading the notice at our Shuttle Bus Stop.

Photos from the camping areas.

A dancing violinist. I didn’t really capture his best moves.

Sunday 21st April, 2019

We made an effort and got to the Festival by about 10:20 this morning. We enjoyed a Peace Concert, very well attended, followed by the Spooky Men’s Chorale.

Their Sufi song celebrating Ba’hari Gibb (Barry Gibb). I particularly loved their rendition of ‘Crossing the Bar’, a musical version of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem.

We had French fondues and a crepe for lunch. Very delicious and salty, with wonderful full flavoured cheese. We are trying different food stalls for various flavour and texture experiences.

We are having a rest at the van before going back into the fray for more music. We will talk with Matt tonight on FaceTime in between concerts. 8:30 our time. 6:30 in Perth.

We are still having oddly warm weather here, days of about 25 and nights about 12. Where on earth is the cold weather? Due in a few days actually, just as we move on to even warmer weather in Sydney.

First Full Day of the National Folk Festival 19/4/19 Day 29

Yesterday morning we washed our sheets and towells. We are right next to the laundry with four washing machines, very handy. We wandered down to the Festival area in the late morning. We met up with Ruth and David and took in some music. Choosing lunch from the many stalls is enjoyable, one of the really good things about a music festival.

There are many venues and events happening – sometimes we chose on the venue, whether it was comfortable, and we were never disappointed with what we saw and listened to. The last act of the day that we really enjoyed was a blues guitarist and singer. At first I noticed him playing with his eyes closed and wondered if we would have a musician who couldn’t really relate to the audience. I was so wrong, between songs he told stories that had me in tears of laughter. This really helped with appreciating his wonderful musicianship.

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We heard from Indigenous Australians singing about the women’s experience and songs from the missions (very happy songs).

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My aim with the Festival is to take photos and videos that represent some of the sights and sounds, rather than documenting all that we have seen and heard.

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We enjoyed the Scottish band with David (Ruth had to leave for personal reasons). We met up with Pam at an event in the middle of the day. And we ran into Eleanor again, dressed in her Fair Maid of Perth costume. We hope to see her dancing with her group this afternoon. We miss running into Eversley, it seems strange to be at this Festival without her.

We have made our usual late start this morning. It was foggy again first thing and was very cold in the van. We had the heater running for quite a while. It’s now 10.30ish and the sun is out, warming the van.

Our plan today is to take a ride into town using the new light rail system. We have some shopping to do, but having a ride in the new red and shiny trains is the main reason for going out. I remembered to change the focus and metering settings on my camera back to daytime photography. I forgot when we went to China and the first few days of photos were hit and miss as the camera struggled to cope with lighting. It took me ages to realise what the problem was even though I could see that most of the photos weren’t working out.

Canberra: Day 27

Visit to the Canberra Arboretum Wednesday 17th April, 2019

It’s been quite warm and sunny today after a misty start this morning. We got out by about 9.00 a.m., despite some false starts with forgetting things and repacking our stuff to make it easier to carry. We caught the 39 bus into the Central Bus Station. Our plan was to catch Bus 81 which runs by most of the main attractions. All of the bus numbers will change next week as the light rail comes into operation, so remembering bus numbers for future trips is not going to work.

We had a half hour wait and Stephen went off to get a new timetable and I had a coffee at a very small cafe adjacent to our bus stop. It was an interesting experience as it appears to be Vietnamese, but had a couple of Christian messages, including this bible quote for April.

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Stephen arrived and started reading the paper.

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It was quite a long bus ride and we were in conversation with a local person who was able to fill in some gaps for us. There was no tourist information given by the bus driver.

We visited the Arboretum four years ago in drenching rain. We were able to look out on some of the planting, but the only trees we were able to visit in person were the bonsai, which are housed in a covered area. This time we walked to the top of a hill and were able to have wonderful views all around, including views of the different types of trees and bushes. It appeared to us that it the plants and trees have grown enormously, but it might have been just that we only had a view in one direction from the main building.

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these trees are obviously not four years old
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view to the mountains
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view towards the city
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Eagle’s nest sculpture
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Stephen, the sculpture, the Telstra Tower, the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion and the Centre building.
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A Bonsai paperbark.

We found we got very tired today and were glad to come home and have a rest. We were pleased to have had the opportunity to visit the Arboretum on a sunny day of course.

The Festival begins tomorrow evening, and we plan to have one more bus ride to the city to do some sight seeing. We are hoping to find a bit of time during the festival to take a ride on the new light rail service, which starts on Saturday.


Canberra: Day 26

Haircut and visit to National Galleries Tuesday 16th April, 2019

We have walked about 10 kilometres today, partly because we are not allowed into the performance area of the grounds and have to walk to a side entrance and then to our bus. Plus, of course, we visited the National Galleries.

We caught a bus to the town centre, where I stayed to get a haircut. I didn’t find a cheap place, even the shop that advertises as Just Cuts actually charged me $32 for a basic haircut. It seems to be quite a good haircut, but they offer a 7 day guarantee if not satisfied, so I can go back if I find it doesn’t quite work out.

I then caught a Number 6 bus to join Stephen in time for lunch at the Portrait Gallery Cafe. I had a lovely thick pumkin soup, Stephen had scrambled eggs on toast, and we finished off with coffee and a shared slice of cake.

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As Stephen had been in the area for a couple of hours before I arrived he knew just the place for our afternoon nap, some beautiful, long couches inside the Gallery.

We walked across to the National Gallery to look at some Australian landscape paintings to see if they would feel familiar from our travels. I don’t think they did, but it was interesting to see how the artists saw the landscapes.

Between the gallery buildings is the High Court of Australia and a waterfall like fountain.

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We headed to the bus stop just after 3.00 p.m.

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We had a little shopping to do in town for our dinner tonight. I had some beef stirfry and wanted some fresh vegetables for doing a meal in the pressure cooker. We also wanted to get home whilst it was warm to bring in our washing. It was much better coming home in the daylight and we realised that we had gone the long way around once we entered the grounds to find our camping spot when we came back last night.

We bought in all the washing, folded it and put it away. Then, I started cooking. The meal certainly smells good. I’ve set up the pressure cooker outside and being outside I was there at sunset to see a lovely, glowing red cloud. The featured photo doesn’t do it justice, of course.

We are seeing some autumn colours, perhaps not as much as in past years when we have been here.

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Canberra: Day 25

Arrival and an unexpected bonus 15th April, 2019

We contacted the organisers of the Folk Festival about the possibility of having electrical hookup here, and were told that it wasn’t possible as all places were booked. We drove down from Yass this morning and when we checked in Stephen asked about powered sites. We were told that there were plenty of sites available, but they would be gone by the afternoon. We could choose for ourselves, except in a couple of areas.

We are delighted to report that we have a site with power, water and a drain point for our grey water. Not only that, there is a dump point close by. We are right next to the better toilets and showers, and a laundry. We took advantage of that right a way to do a big load of washing. Geoff will be pleased to see I’m using his method of folding the awning cord.

Where we are camped is probably about a kilometre from the Festival itself. However, we don’t mind getting lots of exercise.

As we got close to the Folk Festival site on our way here we noticed a shiny new tram nosing it’s way along. Great, we thought, we will be able catch the tram instead of the bus to go to the centre of the city. Not so, the service doesn’t start until Saturday, they were just doing test runs. In the meantime the bus stop, which was just outside the front gate has moved to about a kilometre away. Rats! Still, I did say we like getting exercise.

After setting ourselves up here we caught a bus to the centre of the city and walked around visiting familiar places, such as the Workers Club, good for cheap meals.

Eversley discovered this place and we went there for a meal, was it the last time we came to Canberra? We have been four times, the first two times as performers with Working Voices Choir.

We sorted out some bus passes, they teased Stephen by saying he could travel for free being over 70, but we would have to go to a special place to get the pass, and it wasn’t worth it, so he has the same type of concession pass as me. We get to travel for free, except during peak periods, just as we do in Perth. We went in on one service and came back on a different bus, they were much of a muchness in terms of walking distance.

I fancied having an ice cream and after walking around for a while we found a new ice cream cafe with Afghan ice cream, very delicious. We shared a large serving.

I sampled a few flavours, but liked best the Traditional flavour I tried first.

The featured photo was taken at a rest stop on the way here this morning. Our journey was only about 60 kms, but we still needed one short break.

We are on a slight tilt, but a wedge under one wheel makes it not too bad.

Kimba to Canberra: Day 24

A restful day in Yass: Sunday 14th April, 2019

And we really have had a restful day. We walk over to the toilet sometimes, and that is a bit of a trek.

We washed the floors of the cab and house. We have a floor covering that doesn’t show much dirt, but we have been in very dusty and dirty environments and knew that it needed doing.


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A view of our campsite at the Yass showgrounds. We have power and water, plus access to rather old shower and toilet amenities. Stephen goes to the showers, but I use the shower in the van.
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I don’t know if you can see the slope. It doesn’t look too bad from the outside, but we feel it inside. Still, it allows the shower floor to clear of water very quickly.

The featured image shows our fridge magnet collection so far. We already had one from Ravenshorpe showing the Qualup Bell flower. We also had one from Onslow.

Added are ones from Gundagai, Wagga Wagga, Narrandera, and Yass.

We took a short walk around the showgrounds to enjoy the sunset.

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The Piccolo Rose
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PR from the rear. Isn’t it cute!
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Yass Show Society 1863
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After sunset.

We helped some children with a hose attachment that was stuck. I held wrench whilst Stephen used another to turn. We make a good team.

Kimba to Canberra: Day 23

Jugiong to Yass Saturday 13th April, 2019

We had a good night’s rest and left Jugiong at around 11 am. It is about 60 kms to Yass, which is to be our jumping off point for Canberra. We wanted to have at least one night on power before a week without to thoroughly barge up the batteries. It would have been nicer to have had two nights in Jugiong and one night in Yass. We are at the Showgrounds and didn’t actually find a level spot. We opted for a sideways tilt, rather than back to front, but may use the van to get around tomorrow and then find a different spot tomorrow night.

We had a walk into town, going to the Visitor Centre, then walked down the Main Street, through a park by the river, then back, visiting a church on the way. That doesn’t sound like much, but we are up a steep hill, and it was quite an effort. We are probably fitter than when we left home and I don’t feel overly tired out.

A little bit of local history on the Woolworths back wall.

The old court house

At the river bank park.

A friendly horse.

Mural under the bridge.

St Clements.

A fellow traveller took an interest in us on our way out on the walk. When we returned he and Stephen got chatting, we spoke about going to the National Folk Festival and it turns out that his son runs the Bushmans’ Camp there and he and his wife are on their way to help out. We have enjoyed going there in previous years for the food and entertainment. A small world.

The featured photo shows Stephen and this man who’s name we don’t know, having their chat.