What is it about Canowindra?

So what is it about Canowindra, a townlet of fewer than 2000 people in central New South Wales, that it can host a sophisticated dinner for 280 people in its historic main street, with most of the food grown within 100 miles of its little CBD? Continue reading

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Improbable beginnings: my Chaos Theory of Rural Arts Festivals

“Beginnings” are arbitrary, as every storyteller knows. Any event will do, and then the next and the next in a linear sequence of apparent causality until you reach the “ending”, where all the loose strands get tied together into a nice neat conclusion. Or that’s how stories are traditionally told in my part of the world. Continue reading

Yes, but is it an arts festival ….?

Parkes, 8-12 January, 2014. This town was once known only for  wheat, sheep, gold, and The Big Dish.  Last weekend, however, it was all about big wigs, big skirts, big cars and big blokes in sequinned jumpsuits trying to look like Elvis! I watched them pass from under a tree in Clarinda Street, not far from the big bronze of Clarinda’s husband, Big Henry, for whom this town was named. Continue reading

From the UK Midlands to Central NSW

A long journey from Derbyshire’s damp green hills and dales to the wide brown plains of inland New South Wales; from Wirksworth’s Arts Festival to our own Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival back home in the small country town of Forbes. Continue reading

In England’s navel

Wirksworth nestles in the valley of the Ecclesbourne, a trickle the locals call a river. DH Lawrence, who lived here in 1918, called this town “the navel of England”. We visiting Australians are living at the navel’s very centre, in a couple of houses older than European settlement in our homeland: all locally quarried stone, rickety stairways and small-paned windows overlooking a jumble of slate roofs and chimney pots and, beyond them, a view of dalesides dotted with contented sheep and cows. I’m in White Lion House, a former pub on Coldwell Street opposite the Baptist Church. Continue reading

Rural artists: a cultural exchange

The cereal crops were green and lush when I left Forbes, and the canola was blooming, hundreds of hectares of buttercup sunshine stretching horizon-to-horizon. Best Spring in decades, the farmers were saying. Continue reading