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ABC Back Roads Shines a Light on Girgarre


Back Roads on ABC TV Monday 13 July surely did the small town of Girgarre and its successful music programs proud; the buzz has yet to die down.  It just goes to show what can happen when a few seeds are cast to the wind and how, when they find fertile ground, they can grow into something much grander; touching everything with a little star dust, drawing  people in from far and wide and placing this small community well and truly on the map.

              The result has been magical; the success of the now well-established music program in Girgarre lifts the spirits of not just the musicians but also the volunteers who took the risk in the first place. It has given heart to a small rural community and raised the profile of the district to such a degree that it has become a magnet to others and attracted the attention of the ABC. The locals welcomed them with open arms, providing dinners at ’Bonshaw”, Bernie Ryan's historic homestead, and the Friends of the Gargarro Gardens were more than happy to make the most of the opportunity to promote their town seeing to it that there were plenty of afternoon teas and lunches.

               Heather, the presenter, was a delight to have around, in person exactly what you see on the TV; open, friendly and very skilled at drawing the best out of the people she’s interviewing. The production crew, the producer, Damien, soundman, Tony, and cameraman, Campbell, were also relaxed and good humoured. They were expert in getting the best out of people unaccustomed to being on TV and patient when things didn’t go exactly to schedule. There were many ‘takes’ during each shoot creating a great deal of mirth at times when both Heather or the interviewee forgot what had been said moments earlier and were asked by the producer to “say it just like that again”, all for a clip that would only be a few minutes in the final show.               There were lighter moments too. Jan, wired for sound, with Heather and camera gear crammed into the old farm ute, jammed the reverse gear resulting in a longer drive, forward only, around the district. Heather got a pretty good look at the district that day! That and a short delay to filming while the all-male, city-dwelling crew indulged in a some ‘shed envy’ in Wallace William’s workshop. They were fascinated by Wallace’s collection of old tools, many of them still in use, as he creates the Sound Walk masterpieces featured on the show.

              The show highlighted how people in their middle to retiring years, who have the experience, time and drive to invest in things that interest them, get a buzz out of their success. The Jigarre Jammers who teach the school kids music are another generous gift to the success of Girgarre.  The kids did the community proud, the year three ukulele group were having only their second lesson. The concentration and skill shown were impressive.

              The whole experience of having the ABC here was a highlight for the locals.  We learned how much effort and skill goes into making a TV show. It was a joyful celebration of the achievements of this resilient, small community. It was wonderful to see how the folk who come along to enjoy the music programs become part of the community; how they take on the passion for the community’s projects and wholeheartedly embrace them as their own.                 The Sound Walk is one example. It is part of the larger ‘Rail Trail to Stanhope’ project. Conversely, how the vibrant music program has touched non-musical locals. Half of the musicians in the Junkestra, with its strange but effective musical instruments, are local people.  Most, if not all, had never before picked up a musical instrument. The Junkestra is truly an all-abilities orchestra.

              The enthusiasm, passion and joy on the faces of those in the episode, many of them visitors to the Jams and the Moosic Muster Festival, is what Back Roads highlighted so brilliantly. The boost to the confidence of the volunteers, who put so much of their own time into creating new and ambitious projects, is immeasurable.

It was summed up nicely by the Dutch Back Packer, sitting out in the January sunshine last Moosic Muster, when he said ...“It’s the real Australia!”

Back Roads is available on ABC Iview.  - series 6, episode 6 - https://iview.abc.net.au/show/back-roads/series/6/video/RF1927V006S00




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