Northern Road Trip

Sheffield Spring

A couple of weeks ago I had a brilliant time doing the roadtrip thing up to Launceston and further to Sheffield. The weather was typical Tasmanian spring – balmy and warm to torrential rain, thunderstorms and snow in the space of three days!

Chris Ball

Had a great catch up with old friends at the ABC in Launceston and did a pre-record of an interview for their Drive program with Hilary Burton. I don’t care to think how many years it’s been since I last caught up with Andrea and Chris – of course we haven’t aged a day…… We talked about my current projects – the solo album “The Woman On The Edge Of The World” and The Fringe Dwellers’ debut outing “After Time” and I played a few songs from both.

Andrea O’Connor

Sadly, Hilary took ill the next day and the interview didn’t go to air as planned but they put it up on the ABC Northern Tasmania site in their blog section – along with some gorgeous words from Chris. I’m sure I’ll be heading back up north soon and will revisit the ABC studios! After a quick catch-up in town with my beautiful son I had a great night with Launceston friends Matt Sertori and Michaela Young (aka Butterscotch Pony). Matt’s latest venture is a new magazine “Spleen” which is about to hit Tasmanian streets but I’ll talk further about that in a future post.

Friday came around with unrelenting rain throughout the morning, so I trundled on up the extremely wet highway to Sheffield and the gig. It’s been years since I’ve been through this part of the state and I definitely recommend it to anyone – visitor or resident. Despite the rain, it’s a beautiful part of the planet and Sheffield in particular is really geared towards tourists and travelers.

After a beautiful lunch at the Blacksmith Gallery (the home of Skwiz) the rain stopped, the clouds parted and out came the sun again – just in time for me to take my new camera (Wayne) out for a stroll. Sheffield is billed as the town of murals, and they hold an annual festival that brings mural artists and tourists from all over.

One of the murals in the main street

The murals are interesting and varied and even though many weren’t to my taste I think it’s brilliant to find a town in rural Australia that has a park dedicated to such an artform. Also quite a few of the shops have embraced the form and it makes for a much more interesting streetscape. It’s also one of the friendliest towns I’ve visited. Locals were happy to help, provide directions – and bargains! There’s a fantastic op shop just off the main street, where everything is bargain price and the staff are lovely.  Only 23kms from Devonport on the north west coast, I highly recommend the detour if travelling on the ferry from Melbourne.

Meanwhile, it was time to get back and set up for the gig….. and of course,

Audience moving in and drying off!

weather closed in again. This time there was thunder, lightning and torrential rain, and still people braved the elements! I met some great folks that night and reacquainted myself with a few more! I ended up playing for over two hours, telling stories and having a really lovely time. I really wish I could have transported the venue and the audience down to Hobart. There really aren’t enough listening venues – and audiences to match – anymore.

Doing my thing. Photo by Greg Eyre

They are one of the things solo artists adore, people who want to hear the songs! Allen Stott who organises the gig on behalf of the Friday Night Folk mob does a great job. In fact, everyone involved was wonderful to me and I thank them all sincerely. I was billeted out to Dianne whose property is at the base of Mt Roland. She and her son were so hospitable….. there was even good coffee in the morning! And because it’s Tasmania and springtime, there was also snow on Mt Roland!

All in all, a really great weekend away – going to have to do it again soon!

Mt Roland