Sunday, 15 November 2009

Courting With Kangaroos

Darling Harbour, Sydney.

Wednesday 30th September. The Event Centre - Southern Cross Club, Canberra.

Travel: Flight QF1477 (Terminal 3)
Depart Sydney: 11.55 a.m. Arrive Canberra: 12.45 a.m.
Accommodation: Rydges Hotel, 1 London Circuit, Canberra.

I guess it’s natural to think of Sydney as the capital here, when in fact it’s the relative
ly new and purpose built Canberra, which has been Australia’s capital since just 1927; the previous distinction was held by Melbourne.

This is where all of Australia’s major political policies are shaped, and, as you might expect in a capital, where the houses of parliament stand. 
It has all th
e looks of a recent city - square, wide, lots of concrete. Reminds me a bit of Milton Keynes.

The Parliament building, Canberra.

Since our arrival in Sydney on Monday we’ve had two–more-or-less–days off. The band did have to play live on an A.B.C. radio show on Tuesday, but we kept it simple - singing one song with only a strummed fiddle as accompaniment, called Ranzo. 

So we’ve had a chance to both recover and adjust to the time difference; believe me, it takes more than two days though. Presently, I’m nine hours ahead of UK time, and fifteen hours ahead of Chicago where we last played.
On our travels here from Chicago via San Francisco, we departed on Saturday, crossed the international date line and arrived in Australia on Monday. Sunday has been lost forever.

You do meet some very nice people on the road, and today was no exception; we were well looked after. The evening went well; it was a good way to kick-off this Australian leg of our tour.

Thursday 1st October. Day off in Canberra.

This is definitely the way to do it - one show and then a day off.

I had a plan. Following my golf shoe drama at the airport, I figured they should be put to use, so I made a few phone calls in the morning. I called three courses before finding one that we could play.
Can’t remember all the names, but the first place - the recommended course - had a tournament going on all day, so that was out. 

The second was the Royal Canberra Club; the pro explained that a letter of introduction was needed from ones own golf club in order to be allowed anywhere near the place.
I appealed to him, “But we’re on tour; we’re from England; we’re only here for a day - and I’ve brought my golf shoes!”. “I’ll put you through to administration, they might waive the rule for you”. 
“Hello, club administration here, can I help you?”. “I just spoke to the pro”, I said, “and he explained that I have to have a letter from my doctor, mother, golf club, whoever, in order to play on your course”. “Yes - your club, that’s correct”, she replied. “But we’re on tour; we’re from England”, I said. “Sorry it’s a club rule”, she responded. “But we’re only here for a day” … “I’m afraid I can’t change the club rules, Sir” …“But I’ve even brought my golf shoes!”.

Time to ring a third golf club … ‘I need a place that’ll accept any Tom, Dick or Steeleye Span member’ I thought to myself.
We ended up being accepted at the Golden Creek Country Club, and I felt uncomfortable by how ready the pro was to let us play there. In fact I almost declined on the basis that we’d been accepted.

Pete (Knight) and I were driven to the course by tour manager Richard, and on arrival we hired two sets of clubs, a buggy; bought tees, balls, pitch mark repairers and two hats. Now, we may both have been considerably poorer, but we had the joy of eighteen holes of golf ahead of us - and in glorious sunshine.

Matchplay. A dollar on the front nine; a dollar on the back nine; a dollar on the eighteen. Pete won the front nine by a hole, before I rallied - taking the back nine and the eighteen.

The highlight of the game was just as we turned to walk from the 16th green to the 17th tee. As I looked ahead, about thirty to forty yards beyond the tee I saw a group of kangaroos, maybe twenty or thirty of them; mothers, offspring, just lying around in the sun. 
I’ve since found out that the correct description for such a gathering is ‘mob’.
I have, in the past whilst playing golf in one part of the world or another, encountered all manner of wildlife - even coyotes and the occasional rattle snake, but never until today have I seen a mob of kangaroos.

I was very disappointed not to have my camera with me, but did take a few shots with my mobile phone.

I heard that in the tour bus Brian looked out through the window toward a field of cows, and he made some remark about how they were all trying hard to look like kangaroos.
Pete Zorn quickly retorted, “oh, they’re just wannabes".

Friday 2nd October. Seymour Centre, Sydney.

Travel: Flight Q.F. 1472

Depart Canberra: 11:25
Arrive Sydney 12:10

Accommodation: Southern Cross Suites, Darling Harbour.

The night when everything came together. The onstage sound; the way everyone in the band played; the audience response; it all seemed to fall into place. The type of evening that we’ll measure all other nights on the tour against.

Pete Zorn

Steeleye Span in Brisbane

Pictures: Marcel Safier

Saturday 3rd October. The Tivoli, Brisbane.
Travel: Flight Q.F. 524
Depart Sydney: 12:05 p.m. Arrive Brisbane 1:35 p.m.

Accommodation: Rydges Hotel, Glenelg St, South Brisbane.

Sunday 4th October. Lismore City Hall.

Travel: Depart: 10 a.m. - tour bus from Brisbane to Byron Bay.

Accommodation: Friday on the Beach, Lawson St, Byron Bay.

Monday 5th October. No concert.

Day off in Byron Bay.

An absolutely ideal place for a day off. Byron Bay is were the young hang out. It’s where the backpackers and surfers alike make a beeline for.
It’s laid-back and fun. 
And what’s more fun than doing laundry! Yes, I found a coin-op. It was $5.00 for a cold wash, $6.00 for a warm or hot wash.
The tumble dryers offered six minutes of tumble drying for the price of a dollar. 
This is what’s called ‘cutting edge’ blogging.

Byron Bay

Tuesday 6th October. Fly to Sydney.

Travel: Flight D.J. 520 (Virgin Airlines)

Depart Gold Coast airport: 12:05 a.m. Arrive Sydney 2:35 p.m.

Accommodation: Southern Cross Suites, Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour

Wednesday 7th October. I.P.A.C. Wollongong.

Travel: Tour bus to Wollongong.

Depart: 3 p.m. Arrive at venue 4:15 p.m.

Accommodation: Southern Cross Suites, Darling Harbour.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Thursday 8th October. Balmain Town Hall, Sydney.

Travel: Tour bus to venue.

Depart: 4:30 p.m. Arrive: 4:45 p.m.

Accommodation: Southern Cross Suites, Darling Harbour.

Sydney Opera House

Friday 9th October. Norwood Concert Hall, Adelaide.

Travel: Flight Q.F. 751

Depart Sydney: 12:35 p.m. Arrive Adelaide: 2:15 p.m.

Accommodation: The Hilton Hotel, Victoria Square, Adelaide.

Met with old friend, Don Fogg. It must’ve been 1969 when I first met Don; he was an art student at the Harris Art College in Preston, and we shared the same intense interest in all things acoustic-guitar related. Since those days we’ve seen, or run into each other with what I could describe as regular infrequency.

Don Fogg

Each one of our last four meetings were notable in character and in chance:

1. In 1970 I spent the summer in Worcestershire. I was 19 years old, and had decided to hitch-hike my way down - with friend, Paul Daber - to the town of Evesham. We spent an idyllic few weeks there working on a farm, first gathering peas, and then, in the later summer months - as the plums ripened in the orchard - spent most of our time on ladders picking fruit.

The image; the feel of that warm early evening; it’s still there in my mind. I spotted a familiar shape on the opposite pavement walking through the main street. ‘That looks so much like Don’, ‘but it can’t be, surely’.
On my side of the road I walked at his speed, and as I looked across, he looked only straight ahead. Eventually I caught his eye; neither of us could quite believe it. He was en route, hitch-hiking, to an air show (his passion for air travel is just as strong now as it was then, by the way).

At about 120 miles from home, OK, this was not the greatest moment of improbability, but one that felt, as many did back then, as though it had an element of design to it.

2. Messing with a volume pedal on stage at Newcastle University; 1975; touring with Al Stewart. It was afternoon, and we, the band, were just setting up. 
With a purely equipment-related focus, similar maybe to that of a man on his way to an air show, I heard the sounds of a Liverpool accent. I had no idea that Don had moved north-east
to study on a teachers training course, but there he was. 
It was to be almost three decades later before we were in contact again.

3. Twenty nine years on, and an email arrives from Australia. It’s 2004, Steeleye Span’s thirty fifth anniversary year.
He’d seen a poster that advertised the band’s show at the Norwood Concert Hall. We arranged to meet at the Hilton. He explained how he and his wife, Linda - who’s also a Brit, moved out here many years ago. Since then he’s worked as an art teacher in a high school here in Adelaide.

4. Same thing as last time really. Same venue, and even the same meeting place. Don turned sixty this year, and as well as continuing to teach, he volunteers his time to his local fire service, and plays in a folk group called the Bogaduck Bushband.

Don & I. Adelaide 09/10/2009

As regards the venue here - The Norwood - I have to say, for acoustics, it’s one of the most difficult venues I’ve ever played with Steeleye. I imagine for small, and purely acoustic acts it’s probably fine, but very challenging for the man on the desk with a full-on electric band like SS. 
The style of the venue is reminiscent of many town halls that you find in the UK - very square or rectangular, high ceilings, hard and shiny surfaces - perfect for bouncing sound waves right back at you. More and more these days you will now see large baffles and curtains placed in various strategic positions in many of these old buildings for the purpose of reducing their reflective and cavernous qualities.

Saturday 10th October. The National Theatre, Melbourne.
Travel: Flight Q.F. 862

Depart Adelaide: 11:40 a.m. Arrive Melbourne: 1:25 p.m.

Accommodation: The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Carlisle St, St Kilda.

Sunday 11th October. The Octagon, Perth.

Travel: Flight Q.F. 769

Depart Melbourne: 12:35 p.m. Arrive Perth: 1:45 p.m.

Accommodation: The Sheraton Hotel, Adelaide Terrace, Perth.

Last date for Steeleye here in Australia. I enjoyed the final show, after which we all went back to the hotel bar for one of those ‘glad that it’s done but sad that it’s over’ last few moments together.
Most will be UK bound tomorrow - all except Maddy and I.
After one more day with friends in Perth, Maddy heads to Darwin, and then to Bali.

The next episode of my own adventure is just about to begin - with a solo date here in Perth, and then another eight in the land of my Father: New Zealand.


  1. Great blog.Really interesting to read your blog. You have got excellent pictures too.

  2. I've enjoyed reading your posts Ken. Also, great gig last night in Worcester! I'm glad Rick is back although I really liked Pete's whistle part on seagull. Good luck with the rest of the tour.

  3. if you are looking for a great surfing spot along the east coast or just a pleasant beach to sit down and relax then Byron Bay could be the place for you.Byron Bay has plenty of cafes and bars as well as some great music venues.

    Byron bay luxury Accommodation

  4. Byron Bay is fast becoming one of the most popular diving and snorkeling destinations in Australia.