Hervey Bay and Woodford

Here’s our first travel blog of 2020. It’s been just over a month since our last proper travel blog and as you have probably come to realise, a lot happens the Walligans in a month. At the end of the last blog we left South Golden Beach and drove to Coolum Beach camp site, home for a week.

On the drive up to Coolum we stopped at the camping supplies store, Tentworld and got some new stuff to take with us to Woodford to help with our camping set up and cope with the anticipated sun and rain. The tent poles, ridge pole and reflective tarp worked well in keeping us cool and dry.

We’ve done Coolum Beach camping quite a few times before so won’t go into it again, it was a stopping point on the way to our next adventures. Except we were visited by this shiny little fella.

Cotton Harlequin Bug Nymph
He hung around near us all the time and waved us off when we left

On our last evening we went for dinner in one of our favourite places, Castro’s. On the walk back to the camp site we heard some amazing live music leaking out through the open windows of this small bar we were passing. Intrigued we went for a look, it was $10 cover and the girl at the door said all proceeds went to the artists. We of course went in. The bar was called Foxy’s. The bar was the size of a small living room, the music was coming from three musicians on a tight stage in the corner, one guitarist and singer, one on piano and singing and another on trombone. They were riffing and playing all original music. They were amazing. The guitarist singer was Dave Flower and we found out he was playing at Woodford Folk festival. We told him we’d see him there.

Sydney

We flew to Sydney from Brisbane after staying in an Airbnb with a city view, if you stood on a chair, on the balcony, and held the camera above your head really high that is.

Sunset over Brisbane, from a chair, on the balcony.

We almost cancelled the trip as the bush fires were getting out of hand and the smoke in Sydney was outrageous. In the end we didn’t cancel and decided to go anyway.

I took this picture from a clients office a few months back
The client sent us the same view a day or two before we were due to fly.
Landing at Sydney Airport, the smoke from the bush fires is very visible

The smoke cleared in the first couple of days we were there. We took the opportunity to visit a few clients while we were in Sydney. We stayed in a cracking little place in Allendale, Bet’s B&B. Highly recommended. It was a converted barn and done up to the highest standard I have seen. The owner told us when they were gutting it they found lots of old ham radio equipment, it was used by the Sydney Ham Radio society many years ago.

Bet’s B&B

Our Sydney trip was also to catch up with family and friends and go to Carol and Greg’s Christmas bar-b-que. The food was delicious, the deserts especially so.

The little star brownies were so, very good. We got the recipe.

There’s a rule we have that says, “When in Sydney you must have dinner in the Merton Hotel” So, Jenni and I, Carol and Greg and Kathy did this very thing before we left. It was, as always, amazing.

Hervey Bay

We flew back to Brisbane, picked up our car and drove to Hervey Bay.

Upon arriving in Hervey Bay I got attacked by a small boy and a singing fish. He’s still there hanging around Uranga Jetty, be careful. You have been warned.

Jenni’s has family in Hervey Bay and we had planned to spend Christmas there.

On Christmas Eve Tonya and Kemp and Jenni and I went on a kayaking/fishing tour of a nearby river.

Jenni was a natural, kayaking is our new favourite thing.
We spent a few hours on the river, fishing and exploring. Kemp caught a few fish but all I caught were trees, and bits of rock, some grass and I eventually lost my hook. I am not a natural.

The Junction bar

As it was Kemp and Tonya’s home town I was taken to their friends new bar which has a Beer Bible. 17 pages of most excellent brews. It was hard for me to leave.
I tried the beer paddle then a few more unique brews.

After the excellent lunch we went to see the new Star Wars movie, the Rise of Skywalker.

Hervey Bay cinema gets all Star Wars-y

In prep for this one, in the last few days, I re-watched the previous 2 episodes and the “chronologically” first movie. When it came out in 1977 I was 17 and watched it 21 times in the local movie theatre. I’ve been a massive fan since.

We had Christmas Dinner with Jenni’s folks and it was beautiful. Again the deserts were a highlight.

Such a loving couple

On Christmas Day, all along the shore front in Hervey Bay were families enjoying the sunshine and having their Christmas celebrations outdoors.

Families enjoying the warm Christmas sun all along the Esplanade.
Some were multi-tasking, swimming and fishing for lunch.
Others were taking their dog for a surf. Christmas in Australia is a very outdoors and laid back affair.

All too soon it was time to leave Hervey Bay. We’d be spending the last part of 2020 at Woodford Folk Festival and it could be some months before we returned to Queensland. We said our farewells and left Hervey Bay very early on the day after Christmas to try and get to Woodford in time to get a decent camping spot. We really should have left 24 hours earlier.

Woodford Folk Festival

Woodford Folk Festival, before the crowds arrived.

We got to Woodford and checked in around 10am on the morning of the day before it was due to start. Even then the massive camping ground was 90% full. People had got there on Christmas day and snagged all the good flat spots, leaving tarps pinned to all the other good spots around them for their friends who would be arriving later. Eventually we found a good spot, reasonably level and in a bit of shade. We didn’t realise we were surrounded by tribes of families with a million kids each. I’ll say no more on that except we will do Woodford differently next year. They opened the gates to the grounds at 5pm so we went for an explore and to get something to eat.

We would see this guy later
They’ve dug a big new lake for season campers to swim in and keep cool.
This is the new Jumble Bar with collections of stuff, note the Asimov LP. Very impressed.
The”M” on top of the JUMBLE bus

I could fill two blogs on Woodford Folk Festival, the sights, acts, food, characters, everything. Instead I have picked a few small reasonable quite a large huge number from the hundreds I took. To keep this blog as short as possible.

Woodford at Night

Woodford is beautiful at night, here are some images I captured to try and show this.

These capsules are new bamboo shades and shelters, of course with a bar very near.
This is the view from the wine bar overlooking the lake with lights and sculptures
The bus outside the new Jumble bar, during the day full of kids, at night it was a good place to relax.
Street performers are out during the day but at night look even more amazing
Reflections of the lights and the trees gave the place a magical feel
The Jelly Fish float above the huge bamboo sculpture that is the entrance and exit gate

The Acts

We saw dozens of great acts, here are a few that stood out.

MĀMĀ MIHIRANGI & THE MĀREIKURA brought goosebumps to our skin with their rhythmic dancing and amazing vocals and loops.
They also snagged the prize of my favourite picture of Woodford Folk Festival this year
MĀMĀ MIHIRANGI’s vocals were breathtaking
Sahara Beck, local girl treated us to some nice poppy tunes.
She told the crowd she had been coming to Woodford as a child with her parents and was very excited to be performing. She looked like she was excited.
Melbourne blues band Opelousas were very cool. Including the worlds coolest auntie on vocals and guitar.
The East Pointers from Prince Edward Island off the coast of Canada have been coming to Woodford for years, we saw them in the Amphi, the largest venue. Prince Edward Island was originally populated by Irish folk and their musical influences showed through. Modern de-dil-e-dee at it’s best.
Australian legend Casey Chambers played both kinds of music, country and western. Not my usual cup of tea but she was brilliant. It was one of her songs, The Captain I found myself singing for days afterwards.
We brought a bottle of wine to the Amphi and watched the East Pointers and Casey Chambers one after the other. The slope was too great to leave a cup on it without falling over so Jenni’s Doc Martens served as cup holders. Because we travel so lite everything we carry has to have more than one purpose. Footwear and cup holders, perfect. This is my second favourite pic of the experience.
And bottle holder, 3 jobs. The boots can stay.
Danny Widecombe and Trichotomy, we saw them twice
This was why, the first time they were on a group of feral kids played tag and other running about games on the floor in front of the band. They were picking up stones and throwing them onto the dance floor. They were really distracting, and bloody annoying. So we went to see the group again in another venue and it was much better.
A much more relaxed, and enjoyable, second viewing of Danny Widecombe and Trichotomy
Harry James Angus from Cat Empire was a stand out hit. Top performer.
The impressively named Suicide Country Hour were a group of ex-punk musicians that played death based country songs.
The songs were melancholy, mostly, but their in between song banter was funny and great. Their last song was a humorous one, about a gay cowboy. The singer picked on guys from the audience as he sang each verse with lyrics like, “I could be your gun belt and you could be my pistol” and “When you discharge in my hand you make me feel like a man”. Although I was in the front row he never picked me. 😦
The New Graces were a pure folk group, each member bringing their own style to the different songs. The songs we liked best were the ones written by the girl in the middle singing in this pic.
Dyson Stringer Cloher. Brilliant. My favourite of the festival.
Mia Dyson,
Liz Stringer
Jen Cloher
We went to see a Drag Act. They were hilarious and very talented.
The compere described herself as “The shittest drag act in Brisbane” as she didn’t shave, tuck her box in or really have any talent. Her catch phrase though stuck with us and I will be using this again, in fact I already have. As she strutted around in the most flamboyant outfits she repeatedly said, “Don’t look at me, I’m only trying to blend in”
This was the other act we saw twice. called M.I.N.D.E.D. This dance troupe played out a story in dance. Very impressive and very talented.
The act was about 40 minutes long and very physical
It included plenty of powerful acrobatics and different forms of dance.
Singer songwriter Jack Carty and surprise guest Australian Legend Katie Noonan
A couple we met in a food venue told us we should see Mario, Queen of the Circus. So we did. He was fun. Juggling act to the music of Queen.
Colin Lillie, Scottish guy now living in Alice Springs. Ex The Voice contestant. Brilliant vocals and a lovely voice. Nice bloke too.
Dave, the dancer. Part of the group Yulugi.
The beautiful Lior returned to Woodford
Sonia Disappear Fear played some sweet tunes with clever lyrics.
Ian Lowe, Doctor Karl and Dani Alexander on a panel of experts discussing renewable energy options to save the planet. The guy on the right, who’s name I didn’t get, is building the largest solar farm in Australia just outside Gympie.
Remember Dave Flower from Coolum, here he is in the newly renamed Bob’s Bar playing for us.

Big hats and people

Often at concerts you get someone standing in front of you, Woodford was no exception. Here are three times a perfect seat, with a perfect view, was spoiled, suddenly.

While watching Doctor Karl I came early and got a perfect seat but this lovely lady sat in front of me, I asked her to remove her hat. She did and then left a few minutes later.
During Dyson Stinger Cloher this lady’s hat had a better view than me.
Finally, during the Harry James Angus piece the world’s tallest human decided he should block out the sun and the view for most of the audience.

Wandering the streets of Woodford

Here are some sights you see while wandering around Woodford.

This is the field they bring the dead bodies they find. Looks like they had a lot this year. Although, could have been a relaxation class, not sure.
Trapeze artist getting ready to not slip and fall to his death and be carried to the field.
He slipped but did not fall
The Power Rangers, charging punters for charging phones
Chips before chicks and Fries before Guys
The musicians get younger looking every year
Lots of this going on, life through a phone screen
Busted. This guy hit me with his truncheon.
Weird Preacher Guy travels the site with his retinue preaching pseudo philosophy and shouting political soundbites
We saw this guy first time we were here 3 years ago. How weird must it be for the animals to have free run of the place for 50 weeks of the year and then to have it invaded.
Peeping Possum in the boys toilets
This giant seahorse was roaming the streets between performance venues. Rumour has it it is hollow and this is how the superstar acts get to each venue.
The Bush Swagman storyteller. He’s here every year performing in the streets. I’m sure he’s 305 years old.
Fake clouds drizzle real rain onto whoever stands underneath and keeps them cool
Bright serpents roam the streets at night
Kids loved these guys
Informed teaching says you should try everything once, except incest and Morris dancing.
Colourful Colombian dancers swung by swinging hips and lots of other things
Uh Oh! Morris Dancers everywhere.
Lots of people adorned with lights.

The Beautiful People

Love of my life, Jenni, ready for all weathers, rain or sun. Taken at our camp site.
Jenni bought me a new shirt at Woodford. I’m wearing this to the next Suicide Country Hour gig, bet I get picked then.
This is part of our sustainable existence. We carry these wherever we go. Plunger to make coffee even if the place we are staying only has coffee pod machines. Bamboo take away coffee cup, bamboo toothbrush, tooth tabs from Lush, no plastic toothpaste tube waste and all reusable and recycled plastic, Tin cups we carry everywhere, use for cider, beer, wine, tea, coffee, and cereal, and soup. Not all at the same time obviously.
Finally it was time to leave. Our last gig was the Blues Blessing in Bluestown. A great way to finish up a fantastic Woodford 2020 experience.

We started Woodford in 2019 and left in 2020. We begun the slow drive down through Queensland and New South Wales to Victoria. A journey of 1,700 kilometres, to catch the ferry back to Tasmania where we would be staying and exploring for the next 3 months.

We plotted a route that would avoid all of the bush fires that were destroying the country between Woodford and Melbourne. We made it safely but saw the evidence of some of the carnage on the way through.

Burned forests lined our route.

The trip took us 8 days and we had some unique experiences along the way. You’ll have to wait till the next blog to find out about them.

Till next time, and Happy New Year to you all.

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