Another Country Diary

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13 April '02
Bungendore laughs at Anthony AckroydSaturday night in Bungendore Memorial Hall. If Elizabeth (from CAM and who now lives down the road) hadn't called earlier in the week, we probably would have missed Anthony Ackroyd. His one man show, Fruit of my Lions was part of the Weereewa Festival that's on around town about now. I've passed on the dance events at Mirramu and we're busy on some of the music nights that sounded interesting, but I was glad we hauled ourselves the few hundred yards to see Ackeroyd. Shameful really the way we stay home.

It was a rainy night, but there were enough people to half fill the hall and most seem to have enjoyed his style. Ackroyd comes across as a warm, observant and funny man. His stories of his wife's pregnancies and his kids growing up were pretty much the standard material for stand up comedy. In the second half, his tales of how he handled his mid life crisis and decided that he'd never be a rock star, were a bit sharper edged. Self-deprecating about his early baldness that stopped his rock music career (as part of a Tasmanian band discovered in 'The Battle of the Sounds' era), he showed he could still sing. He played guitar and sang some original material (accompanied by a backing tape). 

He had to stretch a bit to bring it all back to the stated topic and finish, but no-one seemed to mind, and Jan and I have been swapping moments like... 'the bit when his kid asked loudly about why thunder makes that noise, in the shelter shed full of parents...' (His reply was that er... clouds are full of air and lightning is pointy and it pops them). 

Thank you Mr. Ackroyd for the evening's entertainment, I've put some photographs of the night on a page here, and download a snippet of one of the songs.
15 April '02

The Deodar cedar about JanuaryI told the yearly saga of our Deodar Cedar in pictures last year, on a web page called Yellow. There's a dramatic seasonal progression from these tiny flower heads that are a lovely contrasting green, up to when they become finger length, filled with yellow pollen and a purple-tinged-brown. They spread their pollen in yellow clouds around the yard, it covers the washing and ends up in small drifts against window ledges and paths. The heads then fall off with the wind and rain, and hold the water like a sponge, looking and feeling like fat slugs. Of course they then have to be raked up and dumped into the compost bins. 

I've been brushing past them while I've been chopping the fire wood and wheeling it in to the shed. When I come inside I have sulphur yellow dust all over my back and shoulders. Very interesting with a black t-shirt. 

17 April '02
No, it's not the Memorial Hall collapsing, just a brick 'bio' box that once straddled the entrance. I saw the photo on the hall wall last Saturday night and photographed it handheld and through the glass so it's not that sharp. I've asked a few people when it was knocked down and they all say 'before my time' and guess the '80s. I promise to find out more. The previous weekend we went to Braidwood, and visited the lovely old hall there where I've attended a few NFSA screenings. I took some photos this time, although it was set up for an art exhibition not a movie screening.

I went back to find a piece I'd written about the bio box and the movies in the town where I grew up, but they're on some backup disk. The town was Walwa, on the Murray River up towards the mountains from Albury. My father was the local projectionist (and I was his assistant in my teenage years) for each Saturday night at the Walwa Memorial Hall. These War/Returned Soldiers Memorial halls must have all been built on the same model but unlike the one in Bungendore, the projection box in Walwa was inside the building not tacked on outside. They'd forgotten to build stairs and we had to climb a vertical ladder, sometimes one handed, with a heavy metal film can in the other. To us as kids, it had a cubby house feel. When it became my job on a Friday afternoon to collect the weekend's features from the cafe across the road where the country bus stopped, and carry them up to the bio-box, it was hard work.

I had to wind the tail-out reels of 35mm onto our own spools. After projection and take-up onto the distributor's reels, they were then ready, tail out for the next theatre. I remember having aching arms from rewinding usually fifteen or so heavy reels, two features and of course a cartoon, newsreel and serial.

I nominated my father in the Peoplescape event for the Centenary of Federation as a representative of the country picture showmen and women. There are some great stories to tell... sometime.
20 April '02
Thanks again to Elizabeth (that's her at left in the glasses and hat) I've been to another of the Weereewa events. This time it was the Silk Lake performance on the Lake George flats below Mirramu. I'm not very tolerant of much of modern dance (I remember one stunning performance by Graeme Murphy and the Sydney Dance Company were it all clicked) but I couldn't resist the staging and spectacle on Saturday, and I made some nice images.

It was amazing to be out on the lakebed when the rain swept down the valley. We eventually had to leave before it ended because we had no umbrellas or rain coats, but there were some nice tableaus played out in a great location. The van in the middle picture appeared from just a dot across the other side of the lake and, raising dust, passed through the performance. It destroyed the period atmosphere but added to the nomadic adventure feel of the lake. Is there regular traffic across there?

Here is a page of images (4x25k) of
Silk Lake performed by Kyoko Sato, Jade Dewi, Vivienne Rogis and Elizabeth Cameron Dalman.


Fred Harden
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