Last Saturday the boys and I kicked off the start of the April school holidays with a musical outing to Jo and Don Hearn’s Restdown Winery. After the success of last years inaugural Restdown Winery Concert, this year Jo and Don teamed up again with South West Arts to host the Bush Concert Project.
South West Arts has been working to bring art, music and cultural life to the communities of southwest New South Wales for thirty years. First initiated in 1983 through the joint effort of several local governments, the Arts Council of NSW and interested community members. Today South West Arts is funded by nine local governments: Berrigan, Balranald, Carrathool, Conargo, Deniliquin, Hay, Murray, Murrumbidgee and Wakool Shires.
Arts and cultural development creates employment and encourages tourism by promoting and developing the identity of the region. South West Music and Outback Theatre for Young People are two significant and independent programs that now operate throughout our region thanks to the initial hard work by South West Arts.
About seventy-five adults and more than thirty children enjoyed a beautiful autumn afternoon in a large open sided marquee set between the vineyard and the cellar door. Lunch and afternoon grazing options were provided by local gourmets, Lauren from Bundarra Berkshires, Anna from Plains Paddock Lamb, Gillian with her Xpress Go coffee van, scrumptious cheese platters courtesy of Echuca Farmhouse Cheese and matching wines from Restdown.
Before lunch, guests were invited to join Don for his informative guided tour along the 1.4km walking trail. We passed through black box woodland, by an old river system that existed around 40,000 years ago. Today there is a natural ephemeral wetland supporting a wide variety of birds and other wildlife where the ancient river once flowed.
During lunch and for the rest of the afternoon we were entertained by two talented Melbourne based bands.
Nicolette Forte and Friends is a five-piece band that played a variety of easy listening music from around the world. Nicolette’s hauntingly beautiful voice kept the adult audience transfixed while her extensive collection of musical instruments she invited the children to play with kept the little people entertained.
Ced Le Meledo, a charismatic Frenchman originally from Paris, headed the second band for the day, Bric a Brac. No strangers to the region, Bric a Brac had attended and played at a Celtic night in the Caldwell Hall eight years ago. Their wide repertoire of French, Italian, Spanish and English folk flavoured melodies were a pleasure to listen to.
These days don’t just happen; they come about from the hard work of a dedicated few. I feel we are incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to attend events like these locally – well done.