We’ve always gone to Ukaria in the Adelaide Hill for an Adelaide Festival concert. I always enjoy it.
Ukaria was built to house beautiful performances.
The performance this year was called Dawn.
It was a stunning performance. The quartet was wonderful but the second piece a Beethoven for Violin and piano was simply amazing. The playing was so wonderful it is hard to describe. The room was spellbound and at the end stood and applauded.
We followed this with a visit to a park in Mt Barker to see the Disco Dogs. It would be better at night when the dogs are lit up but still fun in the day. Music is coming from the dogs and you can walk around and through them and dance along.
The park had a great Sunday afternoon vibe. Food vans picnicking families and beautiful weather.
A quick visit to niece Vashti and her family in nearby Balhannah rounded off the afternoon.
The first one at one of the many squares ( should they be called piazzas!) in Adelaide.
Called 80’s Ladies it probably would not be my first choice but my niece Vashti a professional Sax player was in the band for the show. and it was great.
It was a riot of fluro. See niece Vashti with her saxophone 🎷 in the background of the above photo. It was loud , fun, and our group were definitely the oldest in the crowd!
Somehow it was great fun. I sang along to 80’s songs like Working 9 to 5 and It’s Raining Men…… and we came out smiling.
The show finished ….. we sat outside having a Gin & Tonic looking at the trapeze artists then walked a few blocks to another Square – all lit up and in party mode.
We scrambled into the Speigeltent, found seats and settled in for Elephant Man the Musical. You probably remember the sad story of the Elephant Man. A movie starring John Hurt. Now thanks to a wonderful director – a local team – including musician husband & wife – it’s now a musical.
Complete with a ringmaster, beautiful nurse, evil Doctor, assorted musicians, actors and the sad elephant man we clapped and sang and shed a tear through the musical journey of the elephant man.
After thunderous applause we left the tent to meet the actors outside. My niece knew the music writers from her days of studying jazz at the uni.
This original Australian production is co-directed by the Olivier-award winning, Edinburgh and Adelaide Fringe veteran Guy Masterson alongside Christopher Mitchell. This gothic fairy tale retelling is as hysterical and heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. It’s going to Melbourne soon if you happen to live there.
We followed the next afternoon with a visit to the old Capri theatre complete with art deco foyer, velvet chairs and old style organ. It’s gorgeous and if I lived here I’d be on the volunteers list and work here. We saw the new Fisherman’s Friends movie. A great fun viewing.
We could go to shows morning, noon and night. It’s a feast here during Festival time. You should try and come one year.
I’ll blame the weather! It’s been cool and a little rainy so I’ve jumped in and out of the Writers Week.
The program is for me a little hit and miss. Wednesday I jumped between Sloane Crosley and Holly Ringland and her editor.
I really enjoyed Holly Ringland the day before. She wrote The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. And is now promoting The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding. Holly is an engaging author and describes herself as a sensory writer. She uses all her senses and places her writing in a natural setting.
Also on Tuesday I heard Sally Hepworth. She writes fiction with a twist. A little murder….. family settings. It’s very popular here and in America where some of her books are set and all around the world.
I went to a session with Inala Cooper a Yawuru woman with German and Irish heritage. In her book Marrul: Aboriginal Identity and the Fight for Rights, she shares a deeply personal and moving account of the impact of colonisation on her family.
The session was enlightening. Inala is a very good speaker and the moderator Amy Mc Quire was very good at letting us get to know Inala. Her father Mick Dobson and Uncle Pat have been involved in trying to forge a treaty. We heard about their trip to Geneva for the UN work on treaties with indigenous cultures from around the world.
I’ve also heard one of my favourites – author John Boyne. He was on a panel with other Irish writers Esther Freud and Louise Kennedy. And he had a session talking about his sequel to the Boy in Striped Pyjamas. I’m reading All the Broken Places at the moment and it’s wonderful.
You get a feeling for who is very popular with the audience. John Boyne is popular.
The audiences are mostly over a certain age. Others are probably at work! There are the usual seasoned writers week attendees. They know how to scurry into a good seat – reserving one for their fictional friend so they are not too crowded ( until approached by a game person who questions the empty seat with a bag on it)
I love a spot of eavesdropping at these gatherings. You have time before a session starts. Lots of little discussions usually involving books. There are some wonderfully well read people here. Books have definitely not gone out of fashion.
I had to leave for a while on the last day for an online ADFAS meeting. What is ADFAS? It’s a society for those interested in lectures by wonderful speakers on topics of a decorative & fine art nature. Check it out here : google ADFAS
I arrived back to hear the booming slightly overpowering voice of Peter Fitzsimons. My goodness does that man like the sound of his own voice. He writes histories of people and events in Australia. His latest one The Battle of Long Tan is about the Vietnam War.
The moderator for the session didn’t have to ask many questions.
The last session of the week is probably the most relaxed and enjoyable Alexander McCall Smith. The sun was out. It was delightfully warm and what a treat. He is author of so many books – over 80 I believe & he kept us entertained with descriptions of his characters from books in his series. I’m listening to the audio The Bertie Project from his 44 Scotland St series. Set in an Edinburgh apartment block the characters are delightful. Especially 6 year old Bertie ! Have a read it’s easy and full of fun characters.
His series set in Botswana features Precious Ramotswe who is kind, wise and good. Precious solves crimes in a cosy readable way. Then there is the Isobel Dalhousie series. …… I could go on …..but check out his website if you don’t know his books.
I’ve been coming to the Adelaide Writers Week for a few years and never had rain. But yesterday afternoon it started and in the evening there was rumbling thunder and lots of rain.
But I didn’t go to hear writers yesterday. We went to The Jade, a small venue in the city with a small stage & a bar !
We were at the Knitting Cabaret.
What is that I hear you asking. Performed by a young Canadian woman Melanie Gall, it is storytelling and song all at once. And knitting. We were encouraged to bring our knitting. Which our group did.
The performance told the story of the importance of knitting during the World Wars. There are hundreds of knitting songs. Who knew!
And along with old slides of photographs of the time we knitted and enjoyed the singing the storytelling and the glass of wine!
The show started with Melanie asking if anyone had anything to share. Normally people are a bit shy. Not these knitters. They were up in the small stage showcasing their wooly wraps and shrugs and socks.
Today, Monday is cloudy and trying not to rain. Steve and I got the bus to North Terrace and walked to the Pioneer Gardens. Behind Government house this year there are no gates. No covid restrictions means no checking in as you arrive.
Very free and easy.
The programme today is very full. Three stages going from 9.30 through to the last session at 6! Im not sure I’ll last that long.
First session has just finished and featured 4 writers who have written biographies of other writers.
Very interesting session and makes me want to embrace Biography a little more.
Have you read The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland. she turned out to be a very insightful speaker. She very sensitive and describes her own writing as sensory. She is very much influenced by nature.
She talked about her latest book character Aura and why she has her covered with many tattoos. She also has many tattoos and said ‘Choosing to alter her skin. She wanted something to come out not to put something on the skin. …..Not a marking a revealing.
Next up are the Irish writers. Headed by John Boyne – just about my favourite writer also Louise Kennedy & Esther Freud.
It was not the funny Irish session one might have expected! Rather serious about the extent of the cruelty of the nuns & priests. Finally John Boyne said ….. “we must remember that the Irish are wonderful people, I love being Irish and we are learning from the past. “ He provided a few humorous moments.
For those of you who usually follow along ….. I’m off to Adelaide. Writers Week , the Festival and the Fringe.
Adelaide airport is big and very well set up with local products for sale and even a piano for the talented ( or not so ) to play.
Always so much to see and do in this accessible festival city. We are lucky to be able to stay with Steve’s sister not far from the city. We enjoy seeing my niece Vashti , her husband and four children. Always fun
I flew down yesterday and we met Steve off the Overlander train from Melbourne. He had driven our friends MG from Brisbane to Melbourne for them, staying with friends along the way. Needless to say- he loves driving.
We spent the first night catching up with family and looking ….. and booking tickets to festival events and planning who I would see during Writers Week. It’s been particularly controversial this year with new director Louise Adler booking some speakers with strong views and opinions on the Israel – Palestinian situation as well as the Ukrainian Russian war. It’s providing a lot a comment in the papers and on TV.
This morning I headed out for a walk in the tree lined streets admiring the sandstone houses – so different from Brisbane’s wooden houses.
This afternoon we went yo our first Fringe event. A play called Recalibrate. It was in a tiny theatre call The Lab with a wonderful courtyard for drink before or after.
My nieces friend Katie was in the play about a mother , her two daughters and a student of the mother. Well presented, good acting and only a little confusing!
In the late afternoon we are enjoying the great weather with a Gin & Tonic and getting out our knitting needles for a Cabernet show tomorrow.
I’ve started knitting a snood! A small project I’m hoping to finish. A small circular scarf for the neck. Tomorrow should be very funny!
I’m starting the Writers Week on Monday. There may be some controversial speakers but there are some I really enjoy reading. So I’ll be going to see John Boyne, you must read The Hearts Invisible Furies and Echo Chamber. Also Alex Miller – A Brief Affair. Bill Browder, Sally Hepworth, Jane Harper. Just to name a few
Check out the program and tell me who you would like to hear.
My last post for this trip is about another train journey. This time a step back in time.
In 1878, construction commenced on the Port Augusta and Government Gums Railway. The line was extended to Oodnadatta in 1891 and further to Alice Springs in 1929, establishing an important rail link to Central Australia.
The famous Ghan passenger train travelled this way from 1923 to 1956, and on the northern part of this route until 1980. Such a pity the Ghan doesn’t stop here now ut would be a great place to break the journey.
This historic train bring back the romance of train travel, as it was in its heyday a century ago. The name “Pichi Richi” came from the section of track between Port Augusta and Quorn, through the Pichi Richi Pass, which was first opened back in 1879.
During the war years this was a major junction for trains carrying troops. At one point 43 trains came through a day. The local women would feed the men in the local hall during a break in the trip. Quorn would have been a bustling town.
So the train is old. Today it is run entirely by volunteers. And what a variety of train enthusiasts offer their services to keep this historic train ride operating.
David, one such enthusiast met us at our assigned carriage to clip our ticket and welcome us aboard.
We settled into our bench seats with other train buffs on this sellout Sunday morning short run through the Pichi Richi pass to Woolshed Flats.
David gave us a run down on the train and it’s history, speaking faster than the train was moving !
He told us that the carriage we were in named Warana was the one Mel Gibson sat in for the scene for the movie Gallipoli.
Many movies have used Quorn and this train in their scenes. Gallipoli, The Shiralee, The Water Diviner, Wolf Creek, Sundowners, The Tourist, to name just a few.
It’s such a popular attraction people stop their cars by the side of the road to watch & wave to those on board. Today with the marathon on with runners having started in Port Augusta it was extra busy.
We moved through the countryside through the pass and arrived at Woolshed Flat. Here you disembark and have morning tea while the engine is detached and moved around, in a move to then put it at the front of the train. Great to watch.
We spent half an hour chatting to other train buffs watching the engine manoeuvres. Our driver, an 82 year old man is assisted by his son and his 18 year old grandson who shovelled the coal. Trains run in the family.
David welcomed us back on board for the return journey. Our fellow passengers had bonded over the journey. There were four sisters away for a weekend who were joking, laughing and having a ball. A few caravaners on holidays and a family with two little children. The two year old boy was hooked. He loved this Thomas the Tank engine experience.
If you are in this area do yourself a favour and do a Pichi Richi train trip. At $61 it was a great experience and the money goes directly to its maintenance.
Two chilly days in Adelaide and we were ready for a little more adventure.
We thought a few days in Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges would be a perfect end to our Australian adventure.
Known for it ancient mountains, spectacular gorges and sheltered creeks Ikara National Park is one of the most spectacular parks in Australia. And there is a lot of competition!
All of this only 5 hours drive from Adelaide.
We set off early Thursday as we planned on visiting friends Kathy & Mark in the Clare Valley. They are house sitting – a new and rewarding experience since retiring.
On the way we stopped at Balaklava and lovely small town.
We drove through the vines of Clare and arrived at their house for the next few weeks. It’s charming & just outside the village of Clare. They look after ducks, chickens and dorper sheep. And are living in the comfortable old farm house.
House sitting is a great way to explore new areas – living rent free. Though it’s good if you like animals.
We headed off after lunch and headed west. We passed a few more little towns but couldn’t stop. We wanted to get to Wilpena before sundown.
This resort is joint owned b the SA Gov and the local Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people. They call the pound “Ikara” meaning “meeting place” or “place for initiations”.
We settled into our family room, had a glass of wine and planned our day tomorrow.
Dinner was soup in the restaurant which is part of the main resort building – built in 1947. it resembles a ski lodge!
We’re looking forward to exploring this area tomorrow. Driving in we were in awe of the beautiful mountains.
Last year was my first Adelaide Writer’s Week, Fringe and Festival visit.
It was so good I came back this year – and brought friends for Writer’s Week if you read my earlier blogs you’ll know how much we enjoyed that week.
This week is I’m spending time with the family. My niece Vashti is a musician but isn’t in any festival shows this year, unfortunately. But we’ve been to a few great shows.
Last week we saw a band playing Blues & Soul , for women comedians and a very funny choir.
This week we went up to the Adelaide Hills to Ukaria. This cultural Centre is purpose built for chamber music.
Today we went to a play called Blindness.
It was a very different experience.
Based on Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel Blindness, England’s Juliet Stevenson’s gripping narration unfolds around you through headphones handed out on arrival.
The theatre goes dark, the seats are grouped in twos around a large warehouse space. The story is about a city facing an epidemic of blindness. Those affected are moved to a disused asylum. The city panics.
There are strobe lights that flash occasionally, surround sound so you feel like someone is whispering in your ear.
I listened mostly with my eyes closed!
The end is hopeful – but what an experience.
Later tonight. In fact st 8.30 we went back to the city for a cabaret jazz show.
In 1956, acclaimed jazz vocalist Ella Fitzerald did a season at Zardi’s Jazzland in Los Angeles. Tonight sublime jazz singer Louise Messenger and her band recreated the show at Zardis.
What a great night. This Festival is great. It’s well supported by locals. It’s struggled a little during covid probably more with this years very contagious omicron. Some shows cancelled during to the performer catching it.
But the show goes on.
I can recommend visiting Adelaide during this time. There is so much on at such a variety of venues. It never feeling over crowded.
We are rather enjoying our walk to the Pioneer Women’s Gardens. We walk down Melbourne St past the Lion Hotel then across some parklands to the pedestrian bridge and along past the Uni.
A lovely flat walk that I will miss. Unfortunately Lindy left her phone at home so had to retrace her steps! I’m fancy by the end other day she has walked 18,000 steps! She definitely deserved her ice cream treat this afternoon.
While Lindy walked back we started the first session. It was a look at Charmian Clift. I’ve been very interested in Charmian and her husband George Johnson since I visited Hydra island in Greece.
They were Authors – Australian , which ended up living on Hydra during the 70’s at a time when it was a place where creative bohemian types lived there. A young Leonard Cohen spent many summers there writing poetry.
Anthony Doerr author of All the Light We Cannot See talked about his new book Cloud Cuckoo Land in which he writes an imagined novel written by historical author Diogenes for his recuperating niece.
Doerr had us eating out of his hand. Such a great person. So engaging. He talked about his writing, his family and how life is here to be enjoyed. We shouldn’t sleep walk through it. And that we will never be as young as we are today!
Next up was Shelia Fitzpatrick
She is a leading historian on Russian history. She is one very knowledgeable lady who is able to explain things very succinctly. So if you want a book The Shortest History of the Soviet Union, is a lively, authoritative distillation of seventy-five years of communist rule and the collapse of an empire, and an examination of Russia’s ongoing influence on global politics under its current president.
Had a quick listen to Hannah Kent talking about her book Devotion. A change of pace for her.
Highlight was the duo of crime writers. Christen White and JP Polmare. Crime writing, Australian style. Young, sharp and engaging. These two are the ‘almost’ newcomers to the crime writing scene.
You have to check out their books. there are quite a few of them.
Christian wrote Clickbait for TV. You may have seen it ? Clever writer. Christian’s wife proof reads and advises him. Josh’s mother in law proof reads his! I was going to offer but it seems they have proof reading covered.
My sister in law had met up with us and I drove her home before heading off to the Fringe again
A great comedy show with four women comedians. Not Lizzy Hoo unfortunately! We missed her but had Mel Buttle, Claire Hooper, Nikki Britton and Zoe Coombes.
A good laugh to a small audience. I think covid is making a bigger impact this year. Shows are being cancelled with performers getting it.
I’m moving to my sister in law’s tomorrow so I’ll have to be careful around her teenage grandchildren. They have lots of friends at school catching it!!!
To my friends : Jill, Lindy and Ros – farewell and thank you for coming along to the Writers’ festival. I talked you into coming and I think we all loved it