In the category of “you learn something new every day” … now I know how it feels to vacuum clean a Jumbo jet. Yes, a real one, at the Qantas Founders Outback Museum in Longreach where I have worked part-time as a tour guide since October 2014. I can report it takes about an hour of pretty stiff effort in January’s summer heat, equipped with a 5kg RocketVac backpack vacuum and a very long power cord. Here I am (below) at the rear of economy class, looking forward. Like most things, there is an easy way and a hard way. I now know that it’s easier to start down the back because of the design of the seats (you can get under them more easily from the rear) and how difficult it is to vacuum a spiral staircase up to the old Captain Cook lounge (lower picture) … now that’s an interesting exercise. Oh yes, I’ve also feather-dusted the 1979-vintage airliner throughout, as well as its 1959 cousin 707 across the museum parking area. It’s a whole new world out here in Longreach.
Our lifelong friend Dallas Scott has gone into retail in the Outback town of Longreach, Queensland. and opened “The Garden Shed”, a spot for specialty botanical-theme gifts. Always the practical one, Dallas says she has stocked her shop with practical wares, “to be put to good use immediately … no dust & bug collecting!”
So practical that her shop provides free Wi-Fi for customers, lovely!
Dallas describes “The Garden Shed” (in Crane Street … every street in Longreach is named after a bird) as “a taste of South Melbourne in Longreach” and for once a sloganny-sounding promotion is rooted in truth … daughter Patience lives in South Melbourne and has added her tasteful stocking advice and big-city brands to the line-up. Let’s see: Helen Kaminski hats, Portmerion Botanical china, Mor Marshmallow products, French Hansi lemonade and mustards as well as what Dallas says are “the most expensive tea towels offered in Australia”.
As well as practical, Dallas is also generous: she says: “Every month a selected charity will be showcased in the Garden Shed to raise awareness and collect gold coin donations for the charity.”
Bizarre shop story: our good friend Sue Smith, founder and owner of Spinifex Collections gift shop in Longreach, Outback Queensland, tells me she answered the phone one day at work and discovered it was a Skype call from Norway.
“It was someone who’d been told that mine was the sort of shop that would stock reindeer hides!” Sue said.
“Well yes, I like all things unusual and especially if they’re natural 🙂
“The long and the short of it was that this person had married a Norwegian, was living in Norway and had visited a tannery there.
“She thought she should share some of the hides with her home country!
“She said they retailed between $300 and $400.
“I had them shipped to my door after paying for them sight unseen (plus duty and GST before Customs released them) but found I could still make some money at a RRP of $285!”
Sue admits she suffered a minor buyer’s remorse: “I thought I’d bought many more than I’d ever sell but decided I would sew excess into vests and jackets.
“However, at the rate they’ve sold in the short time since I’ve had them, I’m starting to think I’ll have to get more to keep up with demand! I hope things continue in this vein!”
On her website Sue describes them as: “All the way from Norway … beautifully tanned, thick and softly luxurious … perfect sofa throws, to snuggle up to on those chilly winter nights, to place in front of the fire or hang on the wall just to look at. The colours are varied from all white to nearly all brown, with splotches and splashes and the size is large calf.”
Sue sent us one to try out and she’s right … beautifully tanned, thick and softly luxurious is a perfect description. We’ve got it on our bathroom floor and in our chilly Ballan mornings (sometimes freezing outside) it’s perfect on the toes. Thanks Sue!
Do you have a Bizarre Shop Story to share with us? firstname.lastname@example.org or just write a comment here …
Just about all the 2400 seats at Hamer Hall in the Victorian Arts Centre were full last night for the first night of a two-night stand by iconic minstrel Sixto Rodriguez, profiled in the 2012 Academy-award winning cult movie Searching for Sugarman but better known among oldies for his albums Cold Fact (1970) and Coming From Reality (1971).
Rodriguez, 71 this year, came on stage soon after 10pm following an hour’s warm-up by supergroup The Break – drummer Rob Hirst (of Midnight Oil) bassist Brian Ritchie (of Violent Femmes) Jim Moginie on guitar/theremin/keyboard and Martin Rotsey on guitar (two more former Oils) with Jack Howard (Hunters & Collectors) on trumpet and flugelhorn (see their website).
They’re a fully-surf music retro group and the highlight for me was cottoning on to Bombora by The Atlantics, the 1963 surf classic. They played in front of a huge screen on which was projected a series of surf movies and the occasional parkour (free running) adventure.
The crowd took an interval of 20 minutes before starting a slow handclap for the guest of honour, possibly the only country in the world where this might be considered a compliment.
And then he was there … I’ve finally scratched off a big Bucket List item tonight. I’ve met Mother Teresa, Noel Paul Stookey (Peter Paul & Mary) and David Attenborough and been to Burt Bacharach and James Taylor concerts … all Bucket List biggies. But I never dreamt I’d make a Rodriguez gig. Halfway through his set he quipped: “Call me Rodriguez, and I just wanna be treated like an ordinary legend.”
He began by donning a red, black and white cap and singing the Oil’s anthem Redneck Wonderland.
Four songs in (after Crucify your Mind) he covered the Cole Porter standard Just One of Those Things, previously covered by Frank Sinatra.
Immediately after Frank, the crowd was clapping and singing along to I Wonder.
Rodriguez standards including Establishment Blues and Sugar Man held the set together but more classic covers included Johnny Cash’s Sea of Heartbreak, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes and Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, which he served up as his first encore after a 5-minute standing ovation enticed him back on stage. The last song of the evening, nearing midnight, was Can’t Get Away, and then he did.
Ever seen a mosh pit full of 60-year-olds?
We visited the Meatopia event today as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and what a good time we had.
For our $50 a head we enjoyed very minimal queuing, friendly staff, fabulous food and enough drinks to satisfy us during this Melbourne heatwave and still legally drive away.
We booked online on Saturday night (thanks credit card) and rolled up to the Middle Park Hotel in trendy St Kilda/South Melbourne around 12:15pm as the lines were starting to form.
But instead of dreadful delays, we found easy access and speedy issue of our event food and beverage cards within minutes: for the $50, three food items and three drink items each.
A short queue for a plate of rare Cape Grim beef, a hop to delicious pork and ribs to die for, a little line up for pear cider and James Squire stubbies, and we were holding all the cards for a great lunch.
“Holding” was the key word … standing in a pub full of nearly 400 patrons and all tables full. Arms full too.
Thank heavens for the wait staff member with the delightful brogue and thoughtful approach who found us a table and stole some bentwood chairs to make our day.
Now then, picked those plates clean. What next?
There’s a short line for the BBQ’d chicken and even shorter for the goat and wallaby — which by the way equaled the pork as favourite for the day — and let’s have another pear cider, Cricketer’s Arms beer and James Squire.
Polished those off, starting to slow down, must be time for some of those antipasto delights and southern Australian cheeses, yep.
Venison, pork and beef salami, goats cheese, ash rind and — what’s that? pickled peaches and apricot aioli? Hmmm, this’ll do.
What’s that, another cider? And then someone in the party suggested coffee and some of the delightful ice cream — pistachio in one, raspberry in the other — and OMG, another James Squire.
And that was that, mid-afternoon, off into the heatwave. Don’tcha love Melbourne?