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.
Leaving Wilpena wanting more is a sign we have enjoyed our visit. I’d like to do some more of the walks.
We stopped at a few more lookouts with the view changing each time and always magnificent.
The drive back out to Hawker was quite different to the drive in few days ago. The morning light is so different on the hills surrounding us to the light in the afternoon.
A coffee stop at Hawker was a surprise. There is a big café opposite the information centre. It’s has the best coffee, quandong pies , meals and more. Well worth a visit. The cafe staff, Sev and Kads, itinerant workers from Wollongong were helpful and chatty about this great cafe.
Quorn is only an hour away along the straightest road – looking out at flat land. Years ago this proved too hard to grow anything on so there were a number of abandoned brick houses left by disappointed farmers.
Arriving in time for a heritage building walk it was interesting and sad. So many lovely old buildings many empty but almost in need of repair.
Quorn has a lot to offer and it would be good to see a bigger industry bring people to town to live and work. At the moment it is the Pichi Richi steam train that brings visitors to town. We’re going on it tomorrow.
I’m surprised the town looks so quiet. Not many people around today. There’s a marathon here tomorrow. It starts in Port Augusta. There will be lots of people around then. Accommodation was booked out, so we’re staying at a cabin about 10 mins from town. We tried to book at one of the hotels for dinner but had to go to the other hotel, The Austral. Bonus there is karaoke on.
Our little cabin at Pichi Richi Park is basic but comfortable and there’s a heater! We sat looking at the view reading the papers before heading back into town for silo light show.
What is a Silo Art show? Most country towns have large grain silos. They are like a big blank canvas. It’s been a trend in Australia for the silos to be painted. These Silos are heritage listed so can’t be painted So they project images onto the silos at sunset each night.
We arrived as the sun was setting. Tuned our radio to the station suggested for the audio and sat in our car and watched. It’s like being at the drive in movies.
We got our quandong ( a local treat) gin and tonic set up and sat back and enjoyed the show.
In fact they should show movies here. Perfect screen. The light show consisted of various different segments outlining the features and activities of a Quorn. a section on the food, the attractions, The indigenous history.
The streets were quiet except for those heading to the two hotels for dinner. It wasn’t quiet in the Austral Hotel. We sat near a big group of Marathon runners. The good part is they weren’t drinking much and finished early. But they were friendly and fun!
The runners head off for bed and then the karaoke started. It’s always funny to watch this entertainment. Ordinary people get up and have a go . Good on them. But really. The choice of songs could be better for some!!!
Marg and I were not going to do it but it wasn’t long before we felt we could do better than most! But we’d resisted and ended up singing all the way back to our cabin.
The day was glorious- after a cool night we woke to blue skies and a warm sun.
The visitors centre is at the main building as you drive into the Wilpena Resort. It also houses an IGA which would be so helpful for the many campers.
The area is very sheltered with lots of beautiful trees providing shade during the hot summer months.
The Aboriginal guides at the centre have lots of helpful advice on the many walks and the drives we could take to discover the sights of the area.
With a plan in mind we set off. The resident emus were there to say goodbye as we headed back out to the explorers way.
Our first turn off was to Bunyeroo Gorge. The road was dirt but not too bumpy. Before long the grandeur of the mountain ranges started to appear.
The gorge here is so different to the gorges on the Gibb River. Spectacular, yes, Rocky, yes, but accessible by 4 wheel drive. We drive into Bunyeroo and are immediately surrounded by the ranges. Bunyeroo Gorge is one of the main gorges which runs through the Heysen Range towards Lake Torrens.
As we drive through the gorge the trees are magnificent. The gums are huge. The pine trees line up along the creek and the road.
As we drive through the Gorge the size of the limestone cliffs either side look awesome.
The creeks we cross have large stones and it’s easy to see how high the water level got to the last time the creek flowed.
Continuing on we came to Brachina Gorge which was just as inspiring as the Bunyeroo Gorge. It’s wonderful to see it close up. Not to be scrambling over rocks and boulders!
We passed as few cars and came upon a group of young cyclists from St. Peter’s School in Adelaide. They were doing over 300 km over their 10 days in the area. They were young , enthusiastic and will sleep well at night!
After we left the Gorge area we spotted a vine growing along the road. It’s a Paddy melon which is a poisonous fruit for humans and most animals.
We stopped for a picnic at the curiously named Dingly Dell. It sounds so Irish. There are little picnic tables set up through the Gorge and in the turnoffs to lookouts. So thoughtful!
Nearby we spotted a camper with their washing strung out capturing the lovely sun and breeze. Perfect.
We drove, we pottered, we left the car for little walks and we returned to Wilpena Pound for a walking tour of the historic homestead.
All the tours at Wilpena are conducted by local Adnyamathanha people. Local guide John McKenzie says Adnyamathanya’s made up of two indigenous words: Adnya, meaning rock, and mathanya, meaning people.
Wilpena Pound itself is an immense horseshoe-shaped feature known locally as Ikara. It was once used by pastoralists as a natural stock pen. Today, it’s the jewel in the crown of this rugged landscape.
Six years ago, the traditional owners of this land acquired Wilpena Pound Resort.
It allows locals, who’re fiercely proud of their heritage, to share their knowledge of culture and country directly with tourists.
John is good at sharing his heritage with us. Helping us understand what it was like for the local mob when the white pastoralists arrived at the Pound.
They worked for the pastoralists on what had been their land. We toured the remains of the building that made up the farm.
John told us the story of the creation of Wilpena Pound. it differed somewhat from the geological description offer by scientists but is a Dreamtime story passed down by the local mob.
Long before the coming of white settlers to Wilpena, there was an old Kingfisher Man called Yurlu who lived in the west near Kuyani territory. He journeyed south from his home at Kakarlpunha (Termination Hill) to attend an important Malkada (corroboree) at Ikara (Wilpena Pound). Passing through Brachina Gorge on his way to the ceremony, Yurlu saw two giant serpents (Akurra) travelling in the same direction. The snakes scared him and he hid behind low hills until they passed.
Yurlu stopped to light a big signal fire to inform his people that he was coming. The charcoal of that fire remains today in the form of the massive coal deposits that have been mined for decades at Leigh Creek.
Passing through Brachina Gorge on his way to the ceremony, Yurlu saw two giant serpents travelling in the same direction. The snakes scared him and he hid behind low hills until they passed. The two Akurra (male and female) were so bloated by the feast that they coiled up, and died. They now form the ring of hill surrounding the Pound.
It’s a great story and it’s important these stories are passed down.
After the tour we walked back to the resort or Chalet as it was originally called stopping to admire the trees.
Another sunset beckoned so we climbed the hill behind the camp ground and were rewarded with a sun streaked sky.
Returning through the camp sites I was rather pleased I wasn’t the camper in the blue one man tent.
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.
A late night in Kalgoorlie led to an early start in Rawlinna.
Clickity clack Clickity clack. Our train clicked away during the night. It’s funny how during the day it seems so calm and the night time turns the train into a Rockin’ rollin’ adventure.
The sunrise over Rawlinna was gorgeous. Soft light makes the deserted town beautiful.
We were off the train by 6.30am. It was cold!
The only sign of life on the deserted platform was a horse. He stood patiently letting us pat him as our entertainer set up then played country & western.
We drank hot tea and ate bacon egg rolls as we sang along and wondered why we had got out of a cosy bed! But how could you miss this little piece of the Australian outback. Very special.
The more energetic of us stretched our legs walking along the deserted dirt road of this huge sheep station. I was hoping someone could fill us in on details about this sheep station on the edge of the Nullarbor. I have since found out it is more than 2.5 mil acres in size with 65,000 sheep!
Today it was us and a horse at the railway station.
Back on board we dived back under the doona as the sun came through the window.
Lunchtime came and gave us a chance to chat to our fellow travellers and make some connections. Cath thought she knew me but her husband said she thinks she knows everyone.
A second stop at Cook. This place has a population of 4. There are a few houses there which get used by railway works from time to time. Someone has a good sense of humour. There were signs around the empty town including one our side as male and female jail. In between was the musical ‘jailhouse rock’.
Miranda said I reminded her of her mum who, like me, loves a red lipstick! Miranda is a nurse from Manchester who despite 20 years of living in Perth still has a strong accent. She’s talkative and funny – the kind of nurse who would keep you entertained but take no nonsense!
More cards in the afternoon before cocktail hour! Today I had a margarita and was surprised that Jill, who only ever has one half strength coffee a day, had an expresso martini. It had two full shots of coffee and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Jill was later seen dancing on tables!!!!
It was our last night together on holidays and we were celebrating our great trip. If you’ve missed out please go back and read the earlier blogs on the Gibb River Road.
We have travelled over 4,300 kilometres. Over dusty roads, had several boat trips, swum in at least 8 gorges and in the ocean 7 times, waded in a tunnel creek, had two light plane trips, one epic train trip, enjoyed wine, beer and cocktails. Eaten too many chips! Had lots of laughs and card games and really enjoyed our travel buddies Chris & Jill.
Dinner was delicious. Lamb shanks! No chips. Beautiful Moss Wood wine and lots of chat.
A great cickity clack sleep and an early arrival in Adelaide. Our lively lovely crew including Layla, Georgia. Nick ….. farewelled us. It’s been great.
We have a few days with Steve’s sister before heading off to Wilpena Pound – a little sight seeing and a ride on the Pichi Richi rail journey in Quorn.
Keep following readers…… Wilpena is known as the jewel in the Flinders Rangers