Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Head Bobbing, Toe Tapping Tamworth

Tamworth Country Music Festival 2017

We first came to Tamworth Music Festival some years ago, and love it. We have never been able to spend more than a few days at the start, due to work commitments, but this year we arrived the first Monday of the festival and stayed until the end. My sister and her husband come most years and it is lovely to catch up with them.

This time we camped (I love saying we go camping, when we have a virtual home on wheels - not really camping shhhhh!), at Riverside Camp Grounds, which is only a campground during the festival.
This is the 45th Country Music Festival, and is the largest festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The festival over the years has launched many famous country music singers, including: Lee Kernaghan, James Blundell, Keith Urban, Gina Jefferys, Beccy Cole, Tanya Self, Travis Collins, Bob Corbett, and Kaylee Bell.
The festival runs over 10 days and many of the venues are free. There is an official guide that can be purchased for $10, and includes a CD of country music. Many of the Tamworth clubs also offer temporary membership for the duration of the festival, which allows the member to get discounts on food and drinks.
 Most of the performances are free, either in clubs or stages around the town.
My sister shouted us to Songhouse at the Services Club on the day we arrived. Great performances by Kevin Bennett, Imogen Clark, Harry Hooney, and Fanny Lumsden.
Kevin Bennett was nominated 5 Golden Guitar Awards, and Fanny Lumsden was nominated for 3.
 We started each day at the Services Club to see Writers in the Round. We had breakfast there.
Tuesday we saw Phil and Lana Doublet, 8 Ball Aitken, and Mick Lindsay. All were different and all were good, especially considering it started at 9am.
 Wednesday was Col Finlay (reminded me of Jimmy Barnes), Allan Caswell, and Michael Waugh. Allan Caswell was nominated for 3 awards.
Michael Waugh was nominated for QANTASLink New Talent of the Year.
Thursday morning we saw Billy Bridge, Rebecca Lee Nye and Bobkatz, - so good that I forgot a group photo!
Friday morning, and the last morning, we saw Brad Butcher, Roger Corbett from the Bushwackers, and Emily Joy with Luke Gallagher.
Some days we spent the whole day in the Services Club - had breakfast and lunch there, as well as drinkies 😆🍹.
My sister had said how good Luella was, and boy was she right. Over the week we actually saw three of Luella's shows. She has just so much energy, and the way she sang 'Hallelujah' was so powerful - and that is a song I have never liked, but the way Luella Wildt sang it - WOW!
We also stayed for Col Finlay's band performance after seeing him in the Writers in the Round.
Col had other performers, mostly newcomers, perform during his show. The Dennis Sisters, from Queensland (we saw a lot of Queensland performers) were really good. We actually went to Hungry Jack's to see them perform on Saturday, but they didn't turn up - they were winning the Coca-Cola Batttle of the Bands. Knew they were good.
Another good performer that we saw a lot of was Michael Bryers. He also had Phil Doublet playing in the band the day we saw him at the Services Club.
We did venture to Peel Street and got the obligatory free photos 📷. There were not as many buskers as the last time we came, but still a few good ones and some not so good. Peter had a drive in a Landcruiser Sahara around the Toyota 4WD circuit - I went shopping! It was too hot to stand and watch performers at some of the outside stages, so we mostly opted for inside and air-conditioning.
Saturday night was the Golden Guitar Awards, which sadly is not shown on free to air TV channels - it really should be, with the networks having so many channels each. I opted to watch it live streaming, not ideal as it kept freezing and I had to keep re-loading it.
We had a great time in Tamworth with my sister and brother-in-law, and we caught up with some good friends we hadn't seen for a while. We are now on an adventure with them.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Twin Towns: QLD and NSW

Our first road trip for 2017 saw us heading to Tamworth for the country music festival. We headed south-west for the granite belt and wine country, and were not sure where we would stay. We arrived at Wallangarra, on the Queensland / New South Wales border and decided to stay at the free Lion's Park.

The Lions Park has a toilet block and covered tables and chairs with one bbq. A Driver Reviver was open while we were there. There is a large park and self-contained vans can park on one side. 
Wallangarra is about 230klm from Brisbane and the name is believed to have come from an Aboriginal name meaning local water hole. With the coming of the railway line, a border town was needed to accommodate the passengers that needed to disembark due to the change in the railway track gauge. Queenslander's liked to do things differently 😇 even back then! 
The states couldn't even decide on the type of roof to have on the shared station.
Wallangarra was proclaimed a town in 1885. The railway station was built in 1887 and is situated right on the border. A uniform railway gauge was built in the 1930's, and the last train ran in 2014. Today it has been restored and is heritage listed.
 It is used as a museum and local steam train enthusiasts use it for special trips.
It also has a restored cafe.

A surprise find at the back of the museum was the Tardis and a Dalek.
The twin town, across the border is Jennings, named after the first Roman Catholic Premier of N.S.W. There is also a free camp behind the Jennings Hotel.
There are many National Parks nearby and many wineries.
Well worth a visit.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Highest Peak in Brisbane!

What to do on a hot summers morning, when a lot of your friends have gone back to work (LOL - how grateful am I... )? 
With Emma in Melbourne watching the tennis, we dropped Cooper off at holiday care and decided to go for a drive around the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens. When we got there we thought we would go up to the lookout, and ended up having breakfast. A lovely way to spend the warm morning. It was going to be a very hot day.
It is wonderful being able to spontaneously go out to breakfast. Peter had bacon and eggs and a latte, I had avocado and feta on thick toast with my favourite 'chocolate milkshake'. 
After breakfast we went for a short walk at the lookout, but at 10am it was already close to 30 degrees C (86F), so didn't walk for long.
We ate at Kuta Cafe, but also at the lookout is the Summit Restaurant, and it has, or use to have silver service dining. We celebrated a wedding  anniversary many years ago. This 'new' Summit Restaurant was built in 1983.
Mt Coot-tha is 7km west of Brisbane city and is part of the Taylor Range and it is 287m above sea level. It has been a used for walking tracks since 1860's and was declared recreational reserve in 1880. Moreton Bay Aboriginal Turrbal people frequented the area and the name Coot-tha is believed to be an Aboriginal word meaning honey (ku-ta). It was originally known as One Tree Hill as most of the trees were cleared to make railway sleepers, and only one lone eucalypt tree was left. 
The pavers at the lookout are arranged to depict the Brisbane River.
 The park is great for picnics, mountain bike riding, and bush walking. There are 9 picnic areas, most with toilets and BBQ's.
The four Brisbane TV stations have studios and masts at the top of Mt Cootha, from 1960.
We then continued the circuit around Mt Cootha to the Botanical Gardens and planetarium, which was built in the 1970's, when a 52ha botanic garden was planted. Entry is free, and during the week one can drive around the gardens. There are not many parking places, but we didn't see anyone parked around the gardens, they were all in the car park at the entrance.
I can recommend a visit to Mt Cootha and the gardens, especially during weekday mornings. We virtually had the place to ourselves. We'll come back when it is cooler and explore the Japanese Gardens. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Happy 2017

Welcome to 2017 and we are so looking forward to our travels this year. We are planning our first of many caravan trips for 2017, leaving in a few days, heading to Tamworth Country Music Festival, and then who knows where...

In preparation Peter purchased a 40 litre grey water tank for when we are self-contained or free camping.
While we were away last time, our mint and basil plants died so Peter also got some basil plants - for adding to sauces and salad's and it also keeps the flies away. All we need now is the mint for my mojitos 🍹

We have already booked one cruise to the Pacific, and we are looking at another two - just waiting for the specials and prices to fall. We are also looking at a short train trip, so a lot to look forward to in 2017.