National Folk Festival 2014

April 24th, 2014 | 'Banjo' Paterson, Camping, Family holidays, Festivals, Photos, Snow

I had a great time at the National Folk Festival in Canberra this Easter, as I always do.

My mission this year, of course, was to promote and sell my new book, “‘The Billy That Died With Its Boots On’ and Other Australian Verse”. I can safely report that the book was very well received indeed!

Laurie McDonald has done a great job in recent years, as Director of the Spoken Word Programme, in getting poetry and yarn spinning back on a firm footing at the festival, after it was all beginning to look a bit dicey a few years ago.

The National is, of course, primarily a music festival, but what with the Poets’ Breakfasts every morning, “Poetry in the Park” at 3.30 in the afternoon, and “Poetry in the Round” in the evenings, plus the occasional workshop (writing and performing workshops were both on offer this year), it can be pretty hard for us poets to find time to sample much of the music!

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The highlight for me this year, apart from the reception of my book, was having the opportunity to introduce Geoffrey Graham, who resurrected his one man “Banjo” Paterson show, to celebrate the 150th birthday of Australia’s most popular bard.

Here is Geoffrey holding a large audience in thrall.

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I also got some great shots of Geoffrey (in the red shirt) and three time Australian Champion Bush Poet Gregory North acting out Paterson’s “The Man from Ironbark” in impromptu fashion. (The reciter is Ralph Scrivens.)

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The festival is a great chance to deepen old friendships, and make new ones. There are a number of people I only ever see at the National in Canberra.

I was pleased also that I had a chance to mention at one of the Breakfasts the terribly sad and utterly unexpected passing of Bob Markwell. I know that Bob had touched the lives of many, and we shared our shock and grief in conversation afterwards.

The weather was fine and still, though very cold at night. I find it pays to think of the National as a snow trip. I take plenty of extra clothing and bedding.

My son, Thomas, and his mate, Gus, excelled themselves, building an elaborate square-rigged pirate ship for the parade!

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We elected to come home via the scenic route this year – south through Cooma and Bombala to Cann River. It’s a beautiful drive, but it’s a long one!

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