The road is winding north and the gang are on it, join them in Dogs on the road – part IX! Image: Mary Anne and her friend from Barraba, Gus.
A rest day in sunny Newcastle brought visits from the lovely Katie Saunders and Alyson Evans, ex-Darwinites now residing in Sydney. We had a gorgeous night at the hotel, cooking up a Sunday night roast chook and chewing the fat [not literally]. The next day Katie and I strolled over to the ocean and played Scrabble, partook of a leisurely lunch, and then I reluctantly put Katie on a train back to Sydney. Alyson had to go back earlier in the day. It was a wonderful extra breath of joy in the already joyous tour schedule, and I miss those dudes and their positive energies so much!
Newcastle also brought the Doc Shop to die for: a narrow, cluttered, dusty chaos of Doc Martens heaven, shelves stocked with models from bygone eras – so I managed to score a pair I’d admired back in 2010 and neglected to buy at the time, and then they disappeared off the market. And here they were, IN MY SIZE!! So a swift purchase before we headed out of town to our first NSW show. The next four days consist of driving, bump-in, show, bump-out, sleep, driving, bump-in, etc – so a big week for all.
On arrival into Quirindi that evening it turned out to be steak night at the local pub, and everyone we met told us this was a ‘must-do’. So we did, and sure enough the scotch fillets were amazing. Tender, cooked to perfection, and absolutely MASSIVE. The publican joked that if we ordered the Rump they’d have to fold it in half to fit it on the plate. Turns out this wasn’t actually a joke.
…we rolled home to our accommodation which turned out to be an old retirement home converted into a motel – complete with emergency call buttons. They even let us use their industrial kitchen for cooking the next day.
Quirindi’s Royal Theatre is a gorgeous old retro heritage building converted into a cinema-come-theatre with metal pressed ceilings and plush red seats which swallow you up as you sink into them. We’ve had a huge variety of theatre spaces along this trip – from the massive Greek Hall without any theatre infrastructure in Coober Pedy to the tiny theatre in Barrabra, which is totally outfitted for theatre. We have different versions of lighting and sound for each venue, and one of Aimee and Brad’s challenges is to assess the technical stock which each venue has access to, and adapt the show accordingly. Some shows have very limited lighting, and others have the full kit and caboodle. Lucky they’re both good at adaptation!
From Quirindi to Gunnedah, where I scored an op-shop leather bound edition of Poe’s Tales from the 1940’s, and read one to Brad and Aimee that night to enhance their dreaming prospects. ‘The Red Death‘ is one of Poe’s typically cheery little numbers, and stayed with us all for days.
…thence to Barraba where we stayed and played at The Playhouse; an independent hotel and theatre owned and operated by the lovely Andrew Sharp – a thespian himself, who played Brad in the original Australian Rocky Horror Show and has worked with the likes of Jim Sharman. He was utterly gorgeous, welcoming us literally with open arms, and extending his generosity to feeding these three weary travellers creamy coffees, gourmet meals and sharing his beautiful dog Gus with us. Gus is very much the house dog; mooching out into the main street from time to time to leave his mark on his territory, but otherwise hanging around the tables in the dining room hinting for scraps or pats or cuddles. He’s GORGEOUS and I have intense yearnings to go out and get a dog to take home with me.
Andrew and Gus
The Playhouse show was just awesome: a packed house and very attuned audience, all Friday night relaxed and ready to laugh it up for the evening. Many had travelled from two or three hundred kilometres away to see the show, have dinner afterwards and then staying the night in Barrabra. It’s a 6.30 show and afterwards we join the large crowd for one of Lola’s slap-up meals and then chats into the night. We met some really gorgeous people, and I hope to stay in touch with a few of them.
A reluctant farewell from Barrabra took us a little way down the road to Bingara, and another delightful theatre space well-assisted by Martin. Andrew Sharp from Barrabra drove an hour to see this show, as he’d been too busy serving dinner at his place the night before – so it was delightful to see him again. A very different audience to the previous night, large and a lot quieter – but we’re getting used to that. Some audiences just like to sit and listen, others laugh a lot, others again shed tears. The accom at Bingara was the most incredible so far: The River House – a massive, interlinked warren of large rooms, massive cooking facilities and a ‘Food Garden’ of lush citrus and herbs including coriander, cumquat, thyme and kaffir lime. So that night after the show Aimee and Brad ferried me home immediately, then returned to complete the bump-out while I worked the gourmet kitchen in a cooking frenzy to get dinner ready, and we sat to dine at midnight with wine and Barry White in the stereo. Just like home, really.
…and Tenterfield had the balance of all the above with a near-full house at the School of Arts and the most incredible audience responses, including some very vocal participation from the front row. It was a hoot, and an awesome end to our NSW leg of the tour.
A quick stop at Girraween National Park on the way to Queensland brought us sun, a red bellied black snake, kookaburras and a climb up a massive rock to spectacular views for some.
Giraween National Park
Equally spectacular was Chris, Aimee’s mum – who drove all the way to Tenterfield to see the show and then back to her home on the Sunshine Coast the next day where she joined us for champagne and prawns at the Sebel in Maroochydore. Our jaws were dropping as we wandered around our luxury suites, Brad’s complete with not one but TWO spa baths [one inside, one out] and Aimee’s and my suite nestled at the edge of the lap pool. The ocean sighed all night from just across the road under the rising full moon, and here – we thought – might just be where heaven resides. On the Gold Coast.
Spa bath celebrations
…now who woulda thunked it…?