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New Zealand

We started our wonderful adventure in New Zealand with Margret RoadKnight and myself and our trusty driver, who wishes to remain nameless. Margret said the last time she toured New Zealand the CD player in the rental car didn't work and the only tape she had with her was an Ellen McIlwaine tape which was played over and over...ultimately convincing Gill Winter agent extrordinaire of Flying Piglets to set up another tour with Margret along with Ellen as a double bill.

On arriving in Auckland Jan 21, I was billeted in the lovely home of Micheal and Trudy and we traded stories and had real Southern "sun" (ice) tea and jalopeno peppers on everything! Margret and I began the tour with the Auckland Folk Festival January 24-27 staying out on the Kumeu Show Grounds where each performer had their own cozy live-in "caravan" or "trailer" parked against the back fence past which herds of sheep would stroll several times a day.


sheep outside the caravan window
there are 150 sheep to every human!

The lineup included Brian Peters from England, Grada from Ireland, and various talented musicians and workshop presenters, with the inimitable Roger Giles as master of ceremonies or "compere". What a wonderful time and what a great bunch of hardworking humourous friendly people!


L-R: Margret, Roger, Gill at The Bunker

After the festival we flew to Christchurch to meet our driver who wishes to be known only as A.. We rented a car, trying out several til we found one with a trunk (boot) big enough to hold everything. Much to the dismay of A it was an automatic! She worridly told us she could only drive a standard! Of course she discovered how easy it is with an automatic and drove us all over the island no problem, laughing all the way!

We started at the Westport Community Arts Council Jan 30, then a house concert near Nelson without even a sound system at the beautiful home of the talented guitarist and violinist Miles and Margaret Jackson, known as Duo Jackson Jan 31, continuing on to the very popular Mussel Inn in Takaka Feb 2, driving back to Christchurch for two days off. Of course we visited the Antarctic Centre where we saw all sorts of great films and exhibits about that fascinating part of the planet.


Oamaru traffic sign

Feb 5 we set our for beautiful Oamaru by the sea to play the famous Penguin Club after which we drove around the harbour at night and saw little blue penguins huddling in the shadows!

We returned to Christchurch Feb 6, saying a fond goodbye to our illustrious driver and flying to Wellington where we were met by Gill Winter who drove us first to Hawkes Bay to play the picturesque Paper Mulberry Cafe Feb 7, and then to The Upstairs Room in Taranaki at the farm where the Flying Piglets name originated Feb 8. After trading pickle recipes with Gill's husband, we headed back to Auckland to play the Devonport Folk Club
Feb 9. The Bunker atop the bluffs across the bay from Auckland has a spectacular view and is always packed with enthusiastic audiences and great performers.


View of downtown Auckland from The Bunker

When we were not staying in private homes, Gill found wonderful Bed and Breakfast establishments:Home Lea in Christchurch, Dand M MacDonald's in Wellington and McCaw House in Oamaru. There is a website for more New Zealand B and Bs at B & Bs.

If you have never been to New Zealand, I highly recommend the trip! What a beautiful country with friendly people, spectacular flora and fauna, fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits all year round, and great inventions like L and P, a tropical refreshing soft drink; Hokey Pokey ice cream, any and all Whitestone organic cheeses and my all-time-favourite ANZAC Biscuits to mention only a few!

Australia

Margret RoadKnight and I continued our tour travelling down the Eastern Coast of Australia beginning in steamy Brisbane at the wonderful club The Healer February 12 and 13, the Civic Auditorium in Mullumbimby February 14, arranged by KU Promotions and then on to the very popular Tilley's in Canberra where the concert was recorded by ABC radio. There we were met by the our most steadfast fan and roadie, Duncan Kimball who drove us to Sydney in our rental car, escorted us on a day off of shopping at the fabulous Ko-Koa in Rozelle and acted again as roadie at our appearance at the elegant The Basement


photo by Duncan Kimball
Margret & Ellen disco down!

February 17 and 18, which was attended by all three of the original members of Honky Tonk Angels, including Margret. The Company was put together in 1980 to bring me to Australia for my first tour!


(back)Margret, HonkyTonk Angel Robin, Ellen
(front)HonkyTonk Angel Sandy, and Duncan

On the 19th it was on to Adelaide heading for the popular Governor Hindmarsh Hotel and then to Melbourne for a day off to reconnect with old friends and rest. On the 22nd, I played a concert at the Melbourne Museum World Music Series called The Boite, dragging Margret up onstage at the end to do our ever-popular rendition of Waltzing Mathilda.


Photo by Kevin Rafferty

We appeared in Melbourne again the next day at the friendly Corner Hotel. Then we flew back to Sydney to visit old friends and rest and of course shop some more at the fabulous Ko-Koa, escorted by our stallwart roadie Duncan and lunching with members of his family. For the Australian Broadcasting Company or ABC recorded concert and info click ABC.

Margret left on her own tour starting with the Port Fairy Festival leaving me on my own to finish up with a last minute, standing room only concert at Sydney's The Harp on March 1.

I spent the last few days with old friends and flew back to Canada with fond memories and a strong resolve not to wait so long to return again...thank you Australia for your amazing audiences and your enthusiastic support, and thank you Margret for all your hard work to make the Australian leg of the tour happen!