On Monday I’ll be returning to the Queensland Outback so here’s a recent piece of mine the New Zealand Herald published about my ‘roo-dodging, Aussie-soundtracked road trip there back in 2016:
As the title suggests, this was “way beyond the beach”. As in, over 800-kilometres from the famed Queensland coastline. I loved it. In fact, I loved the desert and semi-desert landscapes of Queensland far more than I ever thought I would. That said, so much of the adventure was about the characters I met too. And like any good road trip, there needed to be a carefully selected soundtrack – one chosen knowing that if you get it right, these songs will forever remind you of certain times and places. As written about in the article, my Outback playlist included Aussie classics from the likes of Cold Chisel:
From the rock of Cold Chisel, it was to the more American-influenced pop of one of the most internationally successful Australian acts ever, the Little River Band:
Then it was onto this perfectly produced piece of 80s Aussie pop/rock from Icehouse:
And the final Australian-related song mentioned in the article was this early gem from the Bee Gees, Spicks And Specks:
These are just four of the songs I had on my 2016 playlist and just as I hoped, those songs still have the power to transport me back to Queensland. From the article:
Almost 1000km west of Brisbane, sitting in an outdoor bathtub in the semi-desert while munching on toasted sandwiches and chatting with a classic Outback character like Ian, this was gold. In a village of little more than 100 people, surrounded by industrial-chic corrugated iron and in conversation with a man who collects and displays everything from old cameras to vintage irons, the Eulo mud baths were terrific, eccentric and evidently very good for the skin.
That’s where Cold Chisel’s Forever Now seems to be taking me now I’m home and it must’ve been on the car stereo at a particularly snapshot-worthy moment as I made that ‘roo dodging trek from Cunnamulla to Eulo.
If the song is LRB’s Home On Monday, then the scene is Madonna and Lyle’s farm-stay in Bonus Downs. One of the most attractive parts of the southern Queensland Outback I saw, Bonus Downs has gentle hills, ooline forests and in the case of Madonna and Lyle’s, a grand old homestead next to a lake. Ask Madonna for some banana cake too — you won’t be let down.
Great Southern Land by Icehouse has me driving into the town of Roma as the sun set on another cloudless day…
All of which brings me to why I’m heading to the Queensland Outback again next week. I’ve been invited to cover a music festival called the Big Red Bash. 1500-kilometres and a 25-hour drive west of Brisbane near the small town of Birdsville, this event is self-described as the “world’s most remote rock concert”. And while Cold Chisel, the Gibbs, LRB and Icehouse aren’t on the bill, fine folks like Kate Ceberano, Russell Morris, Daryl Braithwaite and the Hoodoo Gurus are. Oh, and a certain John “The Voice” Farnham. I love The Voice!
Given most visitors to the Big Red Bash will be camping in the shadow of the striking 40-metre high sand dunes of the Simpson Desert, I naturally have speculated I’ll be tenting with The Voice. This intriguing scenario is explored further in one of my weekly NZ Herald ‘Travel Bugs’ columns:
So yes, I’m a fraction nervous about the snakes and dingos and spiders, but hopefully The Voice will talk me through any late-night touch and go moments. And if, on the off chance, the two of us aren’t tenting together, send brave thoughts my way. Many thanks!