Barham / Lockington Festivals – July/August 2017

Hi Folks

On Wednesday the 26th July we departed Auckland Airport at 7:00am heading to Melbourne and on to Barham and Lockington for two country music festivals. We were met at Melbourne by our Aussie dad, Dale, who had driven over from Adelaide to spend some time with us. Once we had located the car and found our way out of the carpark we headed due N.E. to Barham and the Murray River. Our first stop being a little town called Lancefield for lunch and a breather. Then on to Elmore where I wanted to stop at the Visitors Centre and wouldn’t you know it they had closed for lunch. Well we waited for over an hour but no one returned so we counted our losses and headed on to Barham. We were booked into the Colonial Motel with hosts Sally and Gary Harmon it was great to see them again. Once we unpacked we headed to the Club for the meet and greet and a chance to catch up with the other artists and punters that had come in for the festival. Entertainment was provided by our good friends Dwayne Elix and Anthony Tenace. Anthony would also be doing the sound for all the artists in the Auditorium during the weekend. It was a great way to kick off the festival which would run from Thursday till Sunday and the Grand Finale, but more about that later.

It was going to be a great week with the two main venues being the Auditorium where people could dance or sit and listen and the Myst room which was solely a sit down venue where artists could perform a more intimate show for the audience. For example Annette and I did a Patsy Cline & Jim Reeves set, a Western set and an acoustic set of well known country tunes which the audience could sing along to for some of our Myst room performances. It was so nice to catch up with old friends, Dwayne Elix, JR Williams, Wendy and Kerrie aka Justuss, Tom and Patsy Routledge, we first met Tom on our first trip to Barham and to meet some new friends also, Keith, Alisha and Caitlyn aka Golden Country, Rino Morea and Steve Eales. Kiwi’s joining us again for the July festival were, Dennis Marsh and Craig Adams two well known New Zealand country artists making a big impression at this festival.

The event was run smoothly by Rosie Cimino and her team at Club Barham. Backing band for the festival was The Southern Cross Band with our good friends Anthony Stewart on lead guitar and Bartilo (Bob) Casella on bass. So nice to see these two talented guys again.

The Sunday night Finale was its usual high standard with songs, skits and dress ups turning the audience to hysterics. Tom and Patsy Routledge did “ You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly”, Steve Eales was an hilarious Mexican Bogan, Craig Adams did “Delta Dawn” in his now familiar alter ego Aunty Joy Adams. Check out facebook somewhere to get an idea of the standard required to perform on the show. Annette and I did a Dave and Mable skit that had the audience waiting in anticipation for Annette to say the punch line. The finale was finished off with “Country Roads” and the Kiwi contingent performing a stirring rendition of Pokarekare Ana. It was then time for goodbyes and see you next time for artists and audience alike. However, not for Annette and I as, we had been booked to do the Monday Madness at the club the following day. This is an afternoon of raffle draws and entertainment. A great afternoon for all and a chance to catch up with our good friend Audrey, a Barham local who has supported us ever since we began performing at Barham. During the week it was also great to catch up with Rod and Margaret McCarthy, who may be joining us on Norfolk Island in January, Reg and Nancy, Vin and Moreen, Gerry and May and all our friends from Ballarat, hope to visit your club very soon and all the lovely people that not only danced to our music but to all the performing artists. Sally and Gary were kind enough to let us stay until the Tuesday morning whereupon we packed our gear and headed off on a three or four day adventure with Dale.

From Barham we made our way to Deniliquin on the beautiful Edward River. Some of the major events held in Deniliquin are the Deni Fishing Classic, Cruising Nationals Hot Rod Festival and the world famous Deni Ute Muster. Check out the ute on a pole. Deniliquin is also part of The Long Paddock an old stock route running 610kms from Echuca-Moama on the Victoria border to Wilcannia NSW. We then went bush through the Barmah National Park visiting the Reed Beds Bird Hide and spotting a couple of Blue Wren’s and a Willy Wag Tail. It was an awesome drive taking about an hour or so as we made our way to Mathoura and on to Moama where we would spend the night.

Wednesday morning found us heading to Shepparton via Kyabram and a stop at the Kyabram fauna park. The park opened in 1976 with 2 Kangaroos and 1 Emu and has now established itself as one of the most successful community operated non-profit Zoological Institutes in Australia. And it still has one very friendly Emu as Dale found out. From Kyabram we headed to Mooroopna and one of the best Antique/Second Hand stores we have come across on our journey’s which also happens to be next door to a home made chocolate shop. Once we had checked out both stores we headed to Wangaratta to find some accommodation for the night.

Thursday morning we headed for the hills and Barbs favourite town. An old gold mining town called Beechworth. This is a beautiful little town with an amazing history and I’m sure that on a nice sunny day it would have been even more beautiful but it was absolutely freezing. Its only saving grace, apart from being Barbs favourite town, is that it is where Ned Kelly came from who Barb also liked. So we braved the cold and did the tour of the old buildings with our guide Ian. Also did some shopping here as well. Luckily we had brought our own thermals so we didn’t have to buy those. We also had time to visit Myrtleford where Annette caught up with Alex’s mum for a chat. Then it was back in the nice warm car and heading to Shepparton for the night. Another day was done.

Friday we would be making our way to Lockington for Roz and Craig Giles’ country music festival Saturday and Sunday 5th and 6th August. We made our way up to Echuca via Elmore stopping at the visitors centre which was now open and a bit more shopping was done then on to Echuca to meet up with our very good friend Desleigh who had driven all the way down from sunny Queensland to see us. We met up for lunch at the 3 Gallahs Café then had a stroll around the Heritage Port area and did a bit more shopping. So much for trying to get the Visa down to zero. In the afternoon we headed over to Lockington, about 30mins from Echuca, to catch up with Roz and Craig and to meet our hosts Chrissy and Paul Weller who had kindly offered to put us up for the weekend on their dairy farm which was only a couple of minutes away from the venue. The venue was the Lockington and Districts Community Centre it had plenty of dance floor and seating area for everybody attending the festival, a great venue indeed. Again it was great catching up with artists we had met on our travels around Aussie. These included expat kiwi Kim Ritchie and her partner John, Allan Carroll who used to be the regular MC at Barham, Cameron Mason, Kerran and Di Keats, Rupe Adams, Olive Bice, Kinta, Ray Macartney, Jamie Nielson, Garry Hunt, Justuss nice to see you again girls and the Good Time Band Bob, Colin and John. Sound was once again provided by Anthony Tenace. The place was packed all weekend by people having a good time listening and dancing to country music with food and drinks provided by the Lockington Footy Club right till the very end. Everyone is looking forward to doing it all again next year. Our flight was at 7:00am Monday morning so as soon as we had said our sad goodbyes we headed to Melbourne to repack all our shopping, get a few hours’ sleep and be at the airport by 4:00am due to the extra security being put on because of the recent bomb scare.  We said goodbye to dad and made our way to the A380 for our journey back home. And that was that.

Keep it country

Annette and Kim