Tag Archives: Blackall

Another Lost Shark Tour Diary: Poetry and Fire in Blackall

Blackall was as beautiful as ever and the people as warm and generous. For a small town, it has such a big spirit and truly welcomes all comers.

On Friday night, the Heartland Festival opened with the announcement of the art show winners and then all of the eager patrons that had gathered were invited in to see the exhibition. Artist in Residence, Adriaan Vanderlught was the judge and the winning entires showed his impeccable taste and the depth of artistic talent in the west.

From there it was a short trip across to the mighty Prince of Wales Hotel, for some poetry & song, courtesy of Sheish, Giselle, Cindy and this Lost Shark. It’s a great stage at the P.O.W and the crowd was rowdily appreciative. I could play there every Friday night!

We also brought own own brand of fire to the Blackall sky as part of the Friday Night Lights Project. This week Cindy had the idea to place some steel wool inside an egg whisk, attach it to a dog chain, then light it and spin it in perfect circles. To say the least, the sparks sure did fly (and yes, that’s me inside that fiery orb)!

On Saturday we took part in the Shockwave Festival, performing for and engaging in discussions with the large youth audience that had gathered from Blackall, Tambo, Longreach and Winton. These performances offered up one of the weekend’s highlights as we were joined on stage by an incredibly talented young man who read his poem while Sheish and Giselle created the perfect backdrop of guitar swirl.

The other major highlight came when we performed on Sunday at the Heartland Food and Music Fiesta. As we were tearing into our set, we noticed a sheep being carried up to the smaller stage in front of us and then before you knew it, the clippers were on and the wool, well it was coming off! Not many poets can say that they have done a reading while a sheep was being shorn right in front of them. That is what I call authentic installation art!

My other highlight of the Food and Music Fiesta was the Billy Cart Racing. So much fun! Reminded me of the elation I felt flying down my own street on our Billy Cart made by dad when I was a kid. And there were some cracking designs flying down the track. Check out Hinzy’s Hippo below!

So I just want to say a huge thanks to QLD Poetry Festival and Sally Cripps for being the driving force behind getting us back out to Blackall. I also want to thank Danielle and all the Heartland Festival team for their amazing work. That’s leg one of the 2012 Another Lost Shark Tour over… next stop, Mission Beach, but more on that soon.

(all photographs by Cindy Keong)



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Another Lost Shark 2012 Tour: Blackall Heartland Festival

It’s well known that I like to take a dip in the waters of some of this state’s regional towns as well as traveling interstate as part of the annual Another Lost Shark Tour.

This Friday, May 25 the 2012 tour kicks off with my annual pilgrimage to the ‘big-sky’ country of Blackall, located approx. one thousand kilometres north west of Brisbane. On Friday night, Sheish, Giselle, Cindy and I will be taking our words and chords to the stage of the Prince of Wales Hotel as part of the Blackall Heartland Festival. Then on Saturday we will be running a series of workshops with young people as part of the Shockwave Festival.

Blackall’s landscape has inspired many poems, so I thought I would repost one to give you a snapshot of its stunning vastness.



by kite hawk
that spirals
on hot thermal winds
like that
of the spirit of sky
inspires a hopeless

wind at dusk
resents the song
of insects
and falling leaves
remind me
of the great distance

I want to fill my hands
with moonlight
and bring it back
to you

(you can read the full poem here)


Look forward to bringing you all back some words…


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The road ahead…

Last night at Confit Bistro will go down as one of the best gigs I have ever been part of. Straight up, I want to thank everyone who could be there (and everyone who wanted to be there). The energy in the room was sparking all night and the smiles beaming back from the floor shone brighter than the lights. And the performances…

Fern Thompsett brought the spirit of emily xyz into the room, with a stunning performance of her poem, Interview with Syd Barrett, Janaka Malwatta kept the beat going with his superb Jazz Man, David Stavanger growled like a dog in a storm and breathed like a dying asthmatic as he belted out Tom Waits’ What’s He Building In There? and his own, When the Devil Comes for Tea, Nathan Shepherdson took us on a T-Rex trip with his piece, Bolan Variations and Sheish Money spilled a little ‘Blood on the Tracks’; his versions of Simple Twist of Fate, If You See Her Say Hello and You’re a Big Girl Now, were unforgettable. To quote Bob, they twisted like a corkscrew threw our hearts.

So again, thank you… it was amazing to stand up in front of a room filled with people I love and do the thing I love. It will make the trip out to Blackall this afternoon fly a little faster. And of course there’ll be no phone or internet out in the beautiful west, so will be back with news early next week.


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Into the Heartland…

In just a couple of weeks, I am heading back out west to glorious Blackall to perform at the 2011 Heartland Festival, with Sheish Money & Cindy Keong. It’s a place that is very special to me and always stirs up some new writing… I am particularly excited about playing at The Prince of Wales Hotel on Friday, May 27. The last time I performed there, a local Bush Poet started whistling on a gum leaf and all of a sudden the place was overrun with dogs that had come in, barking and creating all sorts of commotion. That kind of magic just doesn’t happen in the city.

The theme for this year’s festival is Lighting Up the West.


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Black Stump Blues part VIII – Night of the Woolscour

I am still dearly missing Blackall’s big skys and open landscapes… here’s a few photos from a night I spent at the Woolscour. The light and sound of this place is something to be experienced. Hinemoana Baker who I traveled with recorded lots of audio at the Woolscour, so I am sure we will be hearing some of these sounds in the not too distant future …



Walking toward the Woolscour at night, steam rising off the open bore.



This big old boiler was used to produce steam for the engines.



A neat stack of Gidyea … this is tough timber.



Like something out of ‘Saw’, these claws separated the wool.



And the old Federal still ticks over …


More info about the Woolscour can be found at: http://www.heritagetrails.qld.gov.au/attractions/blackall.html

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QPF Spotlight #10 – an interview with Hinemoana Baker

Hinemoana Baker has hit the ground running as the 2009 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence. I caught up with her recently to have a chat about her experience so far.


Hinemoana walking down the long streets of Blackall

Hinemoana walking down the long streets of Blackall


Since arriving you have had the opportunity to travel to the ‘big-sky country’ of Western QLD, visiting Blackall and Longreach. How was your experience and what affect did the landscape have on you?

The landscape was deeply affecting for me. I felt pretty emotional most of the time, and since I’ve been back I’ve cried a lot. I told Sam Watson Sr after seeing his play ‘Oodgeroo’ that I might just be crying for the three months I’m here.

At the same time as there was this kinda subterranean panic in me (being so far from the sea?), as the land just rolls out and rolls out and rolls out even more, past the windows of the car or whatever, just on and on, a sense of real calm arrives. I began to crave the space the more I saw of it and the more I was in it. I would go back in a heartbeat.

I don’t wanna be glib but it really put me in mind of that quote that’s often attributed to Kermit the Frog (at least in my mind): ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

(Check out her recent blog post – Packing a lunch to cross the road – to get a full run down of her expeience in Blackall and Longreach)


One of the highlights of the residency is that local poets can book a time to come in and ‘talk poetry’ with you. What are some of the things you are hoping to achieve through this consultative process?

I’m hoping to learn more about poetry, and about Australia, Queensland, Brisbane, through its writers. I know how valuable it is as a poet to get some feedback about your work from trusted sources who aren’t your mates or your partner. And I know poets aren’t usually terribly wealthy. So to be able to offer some input for free to local poets is awesome.

(Indeed… if you want to book a free consult with Hinemoana you can email her at hbaker@qwc.asn.au)


QPF 2009 is just around the corner. What are you most looking forward to?

My partner Christine will be here by then. To be honest, being the homesick old bugger that I am, at the moment that’s what I’m most looking forward to!

Apart from that, I am keen to catch heaps of the other poets on stage and off – especially Zenobia Frost and Noelle Janaczewska. Be great to experience the one and only Santo again, too! Wooo! That boy blew me away at Speedpoets the other week.


Hinemoana performing at the Blackall Woolscour

Hinemoana performing at the Blackall Woolscour


Finally, what do you hope to leave behind as a legacy of the residency and just as importantly, what do you hope to  take away?

I’ve started making a sound piece made up of field recordings from Blackall and Longreach. I’ll thread some text through and hopefully it’ll be just like a bought one.

What do I hope to take away? I’ll take the sounds with me, and the silences.


Catch Hinemoana at QPF 2009:


Friday August 21 – 7:30pm – 10:30pm

A Tangle of Possiblilties: featuring Elizabeth Bachinsky, AF Harrold, Neil Murray & Hinemoana Baker


Saturday August 22 – 4:00pm – 5:00pm

No Thrill Needs Faking: featuring Mofu & the Crepe Paper Kalashnikovs & Hinemoana Baker


Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray


Sunday August 23 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Just Kissed Goodbye: feat. Paul Magee, Janet Jackson, Angela Costi, Jane Williams, Neil Murray, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Geoff Goodfellow, AF Harrold, Hinemoana Baker and the QPF Committee


All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com


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Black Stump Blues part VI – By the Window


                                                            the lowing of cattle
drowns in itself
all night.



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Black Stump Blues part V – Night Birds



                                                          A winter full moon
                                                          floods the street at midnight.

                                                          Miles above it
                                                          night birds hunt the dark.


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Black Stump Blues part IV – First Morning in Blackall


The lowing of cattle
on a winter morning
a cockatoo’s rasp
a dove’s coo:
these are yearned for
in the city
as smog hangs
in snaky folds
above the children
who take to the street
with crumpled raincoats
and small boots kicking at stones.


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Black Stump Blues pt. III – Arrival

Well, my feet are back in the city, but my head and heart are still firmly rooted in big sky country. Thank you to everyone for their generosity during my stay.


Melrose 1

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