Too much of a good thing?

The inaugural Hervey Bay Food and Wine Festival took place on the weekend – a two-day event held in the Pier Park at Urangan.

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I was keen to attend (as I live near the Pier Park where it was held) but prevaricated a little. On one hand I like to try to support local events and – well… wine, music and food – what’s not to love? On the other hand, I’m a bit festivalled-out.

I gather (from talking to friends and family) that others feel the same. There have been A LOT of big events packed into the last six or so months here on the Fraser Coast: Relish, Mary Poppins Festival, Craft Festival, Whale Festival and the Seafood Festival.

In the last month alone in Hervey Bay, we’ve had the Pier Festival, 150th birthday celebrations, Tour de Bay and now the Food and Wine Festival. On top of that we’ve got the Beerfest,  Torbanlea Races, Maryborough Open House and Melbourne Cup celebrations in the next month. To cap all of that off, there’s my one-year-back-on-the-Fraser Coast-anniversary! (Obviously a cause of celebration. Or national holiday or similar! 😉 )

I know (from the Festival’s Facebook page) that the $15 entry fee turned a lot of people off. I understand the need to charge a fee: but Relish was $10 – and included a lot more activities for your money; and the Seafood Festival was $5.

I don’t go out a lot however, so was prepared to pay the entry fee and went along for a few hours on Sunday.

On a positive note, the entry fee meant that the festival probably attracted a different crowd to those who usually attend local markets or pub events (ie. no one was likely to get wasted and vomit on you or yell obscenities at the band).


I hadn’t known about the event until just a couple of weeks before it was held, so I’m not sure how far ahead it was planned. I know the organisers were still working on the music the week before the festival – so I was worried about what I’d find, however… I was pleasantly surprised.

I understand there were a few hiccups and organisers hope for bigger crowds in future, but in essence the event seemed quite successful – for we festival-goers anyway!

There were more wine-tasting options than I expected (though I know some would have liked to see more local wineries). And the ability to buy a glass/bottle of wine or champagne (or beer etc) to enjoy on the day was great.

After my disappointment at the Migaloo Starlight Swing, I was happy to know that there’d be a few food options and indeed Aquavue was on hand serving some salads (my friends partook in a prawn and mango salad with orange and mustard dressing which was apparently yummy); Wild Lotus offered up a steak sandwich that was much more – deliciously tender beef on sourdough etc. My friend who hates steak sandwiches, RAVED about the beef. Bayswater Hotel was serving antipasto platters and a squid salad; and there were pizzas and pancakes as well as coffee vans. (Something for everyone – though as a non-salad-eating coeliac – I struggled a little.)


I was also pleasantly surprised by the music. The acts had a bluesy feel and I was a tad tempted to hang around longer than planned to kick back, partake in more champers and enjoy the atmosphere.

Happily undercover seating was provided and as the day wore on there was heaps of shade for those who’d brought blankets or their own chairs.

I’d definitely go back, and I know organisers are thinking of running the festival again, but I do wonder if it could be paired with something else rather than being yet another separate event. And – feedback will be interesting – but organisers may also want to look at the cost in future years.

Did you attend, or did (or would) the $15 entrance fee put you off?

Gatakers by Night

It took a while but I finally made it to Maryborough’s monthly soirée at the gorgeous Gatakers Artspace (within the Portside Precinct) – Gatakers by Night.

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Held on the last Saturday of the month (from 5-9pm) the free event features musicians and the opportunity to partake in the Night Watchman’s tour, visit the Military museum and often incorporates the launch or opening of a new show at the art gallery. Of course, if you’re like me you’re happy to kick back with a glass of bubbly (or two!) and enjoy the intimate environment and entertainment on offer.

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Wine, beer and softdrinks are available as well as a coffee van. Stalls offering pizza and cakes (mud cake or pavlova!) were also on hand. I would have liked a bit more variety (as a coeliac) but did note that the food available can vary from event to event.

September’s Gatakers by Night (GBN to those of us in the know… actually that’s a lie. I’m just using the acronym to avoid having to type the entire phrase again and again!)  featured local Irish band, Slainte – who everyone agreed were just fabulous.

printspaceThe new printspace – a collaborative project between Gatakers Artspace and local printmakers – was also launched in a building adjacent and I look forward to seeing the printing equipment (donated by Sue Flavel) in action down the track. Watching artists doing their thing is something GBN offers which you don’t find elsewhere.

And now the equipment is in place printmaking workshops are being held on a regular basis.

September’s GBN also featured a fashion parade – supported by Bundaberg designer Julie Appo featuring some amazing textiles,  and fabrics – part of a training course for local Butchilla girls.

girlsIt was a great opportunity for those involved AND we had the opportunity to see some gorgeous designs. Incidentally, I later checked out Julie’s website (as I really liked a couple of the pieces in the parade) and discovered that she also makes / sells accessories and homewares!

It appears she’s just setting up her online store but I wondered if she’s considered distributing her fashion and goods through other places – there’s a new art gallery / store on the Esplanade at Urangan which would be a good match!

compentriesI hadn’t been to the latest shows in the gallery so wandered through and was incredibly impressed by Visual Art entries (right) in the North Coast North Exhibition – part of the Creative Generation Awards involving a number of schools in the region.

For those interested, the Fraser Coast Chronicle ran this story in relation to the show, as two pieces by Aldridge State High School students have been selected to be displayed at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane next year.

art downstairsI also loved the rest of the work at the gallery (those on the left were my fave and yes, it appears I have a penchant for the bright and colourful!). I also enjoyed watching local artists in action, including  Brett Jones who launched his drawing magazine on the night – in an Australian first.

I loved so much about the evening. And it was interesting to see an entirely different crowd of people. Quite frankly I never knew there were as many edgy older women and funky young people in the area!

I’ll most definitely be back for more!

For information about the next GBN and other Fraser Coast Events check here, or like them on Facebook.

Migaloo Starlight Swing

I need to share this before I go any further….


Yes, it’s true. I assumed that the final event of the The Whale Festival involved an actual swing. I didn’t quite flesh-out the image in my own mind… but some sort of fairy-lit giant swing actually seemed and sounded quite romantic. And fun.

However, I soon discovered that the aforementioned ‘swing’ had little to do with the things-found-in-parks, and more to do with music and dance. #Woteva!

As Pier Park is a short wander from my place I decided it was a Must-Do and made arrangements with a friend.

I have to admit that I hadn’t seen a lot of publicity beforehand – other than stuff on Facebook, which I shared – but it was there I discovered that those keen to get in the mood should dress up: white frocks (in honour of Migaloo) for the ladies and bow ties and so forth for the gents.


I was both pleased (and frightened*) to see that some swing-night goers did take heed of the dress code and we did get to watch some dancing.

Pier Park looked absolutely gorgeous. It’s lovely at the best of times, but with additional tables and a picket fence and pretty lighting, the scene was quite magical.

My friend(s) and I discussed the need for a blanket to sit on but decided to take our chances. Indeed we were there early but missed out on tables and chairs (though probably could have invited ourselves to join those at tables with some empty chairs).

But… as we were Migaloo Starlight Swing virgins, we hadn’t realised there were no food stalls. Our diabolical plan was to eat, drink and listen to some music before waddling home. The Bayswater wine and beer stall had small antipasto platters, but (until Mr Whippy showed up) there were no other food options other than (very busy) nearby cafes.

We contemplated heading into Pavilion by the Pier, but it was closed for a private event; so we left the event a lot earlier than planned in search of dinner.

Again, it’s just a lesson for new-players and like my learnings from the Seafood Festival, something we’ll know for next year (ie. make own food / take picnic / order from local cafes earlier for easy pick-up).

I think there were to be some other musicians later in the night, but the big band we heard playing was fabulous and the music great – particularly if you’re into swing / jazz etc.

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Best of all, the Bay had turned on its charm and offered up a lovely evening… farewelling the Whale Festival and winter in spectacular fashion.

* I know this will make me sound like a biatch, but there were a few scary Bride of Frankenstein types. I’m all for raiding the local Op Shops, but some of the dresses / looks were reminiscent of Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham, resplendent in her decaying wedding dress and holed up in her dilapidated mansion! I wouldn’t be surprised if some peeps didn’t pull out their 40yr old debutante dresses! Fun but slightly tragic.

Any other suggestions for Migaloo Starlight Swing newbies?

Mary Poppins. With a spoonful of sugar

My niece skipped over the obligatory Wiggles and High Five fetishes as a kid and went straight from Play School to musicals – at age 2.

Her favourite back then was Mary Poppins, or Poppins; which she tweeted cutely (in the days before Twitter when tweeting meant something else entirely).

We’ve got pictures of her at my parents’ place, drawing chalk pictures on the path; and years later I accompanied her and my SIL to a Mary Poppins Sing-a-long movie. Yes… such things do actually exist.

Her MP-fancy was kinda apt as it eventually came to light that the author of the original tale (penned in 1934), PL Travers, was actually born in Maryborough. Yes, the one on the Fraser Coast.


Maryborough-ites, always happy to be known for something other than pub crawling ship-building have latched onto this claim to fame, with a bronze statue erected in 1995 and an annual Mary Poppins Festival.

I must admit I was a tad ‘meh’ about the festival – as a non parent – but have only just seen the program of activities and feel obliged to eat my words. Or at least, regret my apathy (and antipathy!).

As usual the festival includes the day-long event in Queens Park and Portside (on Sunday 30 June this year); but it also features so much more!

Firstly, there’s the Heritage City Art Festival in the Maryborough City Hall which includes workshops and culminates in sidewalk art at the festival itself.

The usual Maryborough Market Day on Thursday 27 June is being transformed into a Mary Poppins Market Day, complete with peeps in costumes and children’s rides and the like.

There’s pop-up music being featured at cafes and pubs around town and a Musical Showcase in early July with a range of special guests.

From Sunshine Coast Daily

A Mary Poppins High Tea will be held at Muddy Waters Cafe on Saturday 29 June and – of course – it’s actually possible to have Tea with Mary at other times of the year.

And… my fave bit of all and something I’m super keen to get to: Vintage Styling sessions.

Stylists from NZ designer Annah Stretton are holding two evening styling sessions and will provide some ‘what to wear’ and ‘what not to wear’ advice, presumably without the nastiness which comes with reality TV shows in that vein.

If, however, you can’t make either of those there’s a Vintage Pop-Up Salon at the festival and a chance to learn about manners, etiquette and poise. (Note for parents, that this includes an opportunity for children to learn ‘the art of table setting’…. so – for your own sake – you might want to make sure they partake!)

The full program for the Sunday festival is available but again there’s something for everyone, from the styling sessions to kids’ activities, puppetry, bands and other entertainment (though I may be giving the ‘reptile show’ a big miss) and food galore.

I’ll see you there!

PS. Did you know that Mary Poppins actually featured in a series of books by Pamela Lyndon Travers (b. Helen Lyndon Goff), written between 1934 and 1988?!

If you build it…

Many MANY moons ago – well, in the early-mid 1990s I spent 3-4 years working for the Maryborough City Council. It was at a time when local governments were realising that their responsibilities were broader than roads, rates and rubbish. The Bond Store Museum had just been completed and it seemed (to me anyway) that communities and governments were starting to think on a ‘regional’ basis with planning reflecting cooperative efforts and opportunities.

Oft-discussed at that point in time was the desire for the region to have a theatre to replace the ageing Maryborough City Hall and (hopefully) draw national and international acts to the region.

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 1.58.07 PMIt took some time and the fundraising barometer – on occasions – moved quite slowly… but the (then) Maryborough City Council eventually received funding from the State and Commonwealth and the Brolga Theatre was opened in July 2000.

I wasn’t around at the time but over the years have been regaled with updates of the myriad of shows and acts finding their way to the Fraser Coast. Indeed, my mother (also a “Friend of the Brolga”) at times seemed to attend almost anything and everything. The Queensland Ballet, Thursday Morning Melodies, local dance concerts and big bands… it almost doesn’t matter. Mum and her friends seem to be there.

I’d only been a couple of times before this week when I accompanied my mum and her neighbour to see Guy Sebastian. I’ve long been a Guy fan, although not overly rabid, as far as ‘fans’ go. In fact the only entire album I have is his first when – like gazillions of Aussies – I saw him as a most deserved winner of the inaugural Australian Idol.

I love that he’s viewed as a legitimate musician and has proved he’s FAR more than a reality TV show wannabe.

In fact, he seems to be quite the musical genius and I’ve enjoyed watching him as a judge of The X Factor.

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I was stoked to hear he was coming to The Brolga, and aware (of course) that he has/had a house in nearby Toogoom… so the Fraser Coast was – at least once upon a time – his home away from home.

At almost $80 tickets were reasonable in a world where one pays HUNDREDS for a show. And Guy did not disappoint.

His support act (and friend), David Ryan Harris was friggin’ amazing. So much so that I even bought his CD… something I don’t tend to do (and I cannot remember the last time I bought an actual CD rather than individual songs from iTunes!). His mesmerising talent was matched, of course, by Guy’s.

I know SFA about music and am not an avid concert goer. Indeed I was almost tempted to follow my mother’s lead – who was so startled by the noise of the band when it began – that her hands flew to cover her ears!

The band – though bloody loud – was tremendous. The back-up singers were great and Guy was majestic.

My fave song was probably Get Along, which he played on the piano; and his mostly acoustic partial version of Angels Brought Me Here was friggin’ spine-chilling.

Guy was surprised at how few of the audience had seen him previously and I suspect many of those present had NEVER been to a pop / rock concert. Indeed it was my 69 year old mother’s first concert of that sort. She was gobsmacked at the array of people there – from the grey haired to A LOT of kids.

I realise we’re lucky to have a venue which can house bigger shows (although even at 900 seats I gather the show sold out quickly and had a waiting list of 300+) and we’re even luckier that people of Guy’s talent take the trouble to tour regions and share a bit of their magic.

Oh… and I was kinda chuffed that Guy retweeted one of my tweets on the night.