Emus, koalas and Port Fairy Folk Festival

Blogpost March II Apollo Bay and Port Fairy Folk Festival

As promised dear reader I’m filling in the musical gaps in my Australian adventures from March and I feel it’s time for another nourishing tidbit. Bob and I had the luxury of a few days to ourselves after Melbourne and before the excitement of Port Fairy Folk Festival. We decided to wend our merry way along the Great Ocean Road. To that end we planted ourselves at Morengo, a few kilometres north of Apollo Bay.

En route we stopped off at Geelong for a delightful lunch and a few hours later had to have scones and tea at Aireys Inlet where Split Point Lighthouse dominates the glorious landscape. After a stunning and windy drive (as in snaking nothing to do with blustery or baked bean induced wind), along the magnificent coastline we finally made it to Motel Morengo. We were made very welcome by James (originally from Bournemouth of all places) who gave us loads of ideas for the next three days. We happily took him up on most of them.

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Day 1 after a delicious breakfast in Apollo Bay we drove a bit further west toward the Otway Cape where we explored the landscape, cafe and the dizzy heights of an even bigger Lighthouse at the particularly dangerous confluence of the Bass Straits. We even spotted a few Koala’s in the ghostly forest that surrounds it.

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Day 2: After another fabulous breakfast in Apollo Bay, our lovely host James offered to drive us up the coast and drop us in a gorgeous rain forest so we could walk back along the deserted shoreline. What an experience. We had the place all to ourselves and what a place!

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Day 3: we met our lovely friend Terry the twitcher from Melbourne at our favourite breakfast place in Apollo Bay. She showed us along the rest of the coast road stopping off at Melba Gully for a delightful walk through the lush forest and later to gawp at the 12 Apostles (don’t count them … there’s only 8 now!).

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Day 4: En route to the PFFF Terry directed us to Tower Hill nature reserve where we spotted Koalas, emus and beautiful black swans galore. We then signed into the Festival to collect all necessary passes and other essential Festival accoutrement and ensconced ourselves in our a very quaint accommodation just a few minutes walk from the main site … a cottage we shared with Michael Fix and our mutual friends Angela Hryniuk and Stephen Seaton. What a gift to spend time with friends alongside performing at a fabulous festival.

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I have performed at Port Fairy Folk Festival three times – so far. Once in 1991 with Clive Gregson. Once as a solo performer in 1999 and now a third and fabulous time with Michael Fix. We had the privilege of performing at four shows and each time gathered fuller and more excited audiences.

The festival itself has grown out of all proportions since 1991! I hardly recognised the site to be honest. And the amount and variety of high quality music on offer is astonishing. The highlight for me came on Sunday morning when I was asked to take part in the Women In Song concert alongside Aoife Scott, Deborah Conway, Jessie Lloyd, Martha Tilston, Mel Parsons and hosted brilliantly by hosted by Sarah Carroll . The BIG top they call Stage 1, dominates the festival grounds and was full to its 5000 capacity! The early start of 10am (that’s early for singers!) didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the  excited crowd.

I was first up! I’d decided to do an a cappella version of Martha Carson’s rousing song “You Can’t Stand Up Alone” hoping the audience would join in – and to my delight they did. Michael had offered his musical support for my second song and had persuaded me to do The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (because we’d played it at every concert so far that weekend I thought perhaps it was best to do something else. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to myself!). The reaction when the last note faded … was overwhelming. It seemed the entire audience jumped out of their seats and clapped and cheered for a very long time. So long in fact that I’d sat down and had to stand up again to take another bow which started the wave of euphoria again. It was a heady moment for sure and one Michael and I will remember for a long time. To be appreciated by so many with such enthusiasm … is pure joy!

Our final concert of the festival was even more crowded because of the Women In Song experience and meant that we sold out of all our CDs! Another unexpected delight.

As a reminder of the delight and musical excellence a Collister&Fix concert can be … here’s a live performance of Persuasion for your delectation. It was a very warm and sticky evening at The Troubadour in Woy Woy, punctuated with some spectacular thunder and lightening. Our thanks to Ken Grose for the footage:

There were three more shows after PFFF and mark the end of the tour with another spectacular coastal drive for Bob and I to enjoy in between. I’ll do a follow up Blogpost as soon as possible with details  but before that of course I will be jumping for joy and chomping at the bit as we go into super-excited mode for the start of Daphne’s Flight.The brand new CD “Knows Time, Knows Change” is released May 5th and we have our first show May 6th here on the Isle of Man. OMG!

We’ve had a week of rehearsals in Penistone and everyone will be joining me on the Island next week for the final polish. With a wonderful interview and 2 songs played on Mark Radcliffe’s Folk program on Radio 2 last week and a fabulous review of the album in Froots … we look set to have an amazing tour. See you out there soon!

Thanks as ever for dropping by. See you very soon with the final episode on our Australian adventures.

Take care.

Endless blessings as always

Christine x 😉 x

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