Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gypsy Soul Tour Diary - Top Springs

13 August 2010

This morning, Friday, we went into Katherine town centre and took Freddy to the vet to get a haircut. Nice and short for Darwin.

Today we're heading off the beaten track, backtracking a little southwards for two gigs at Top Springs. The first is at Top Springs Hotel, which is all there is in Top Springs :) Pauline runs this pub, and seems to 'run' Top Springs. From Katherine it's about 300 kilmotres to TS.

We took the Buchanan Hwy which we thought would be a leasurley drive, but it ended up being a few k's of dirt road and then a lane big enough for one car the whole way. With road trains and 4WD's buzzing towards us, it made a very intense drive.

Halfway along this 'highway', we were hailed down by an Aboriginal bloke at his a car on the side of the road. We warily stopped and he asked us if we had any water because their car had over-heated. All of a sudden there were four of them. I don't know where they came from, but they were really funny, lots of personality. Stew asked them how long they had been waiting. They said for about half an hour. About 4 cars passed but didn't stop and the police passed by and didn't stop either.

Apparently these men have to take a 2 hour trip from their place to Katherine just to pick up their money from the government. I'm not sure if that's centrelink. The distances between towns are pretty big in NT.

One of the guys, who I think was drunk, said to me "You can't judge a book by it's you must be in your 50's and your man is a young fella". We went on like this for about half an hour; playing a guessing game with our ages and then I insulted him by saying he was in his seventies. He quickly corrected me. On parting we took some pics and said our thankyou's and he said "Ok I'm really 42 and I reckon you're five years older than me....You can't judge a book by it's cover".

We continued on after that and finally made it out to the hotel. Spoke to Pauline who told us where we'd be playing. She said she wasn't too sure who'd turn up. They had 21 rooms and some of them were tourists and the rest were people who had been working at the hotel or in the area for a couple of months.

We got some free accommodation and showers and Freddy found a few mates to play with. We got free meals and drinks - mmm ... hot chips, yum! We've been so healthy so far, but I couldn't help myself. While Stewart was still on his first few bites, I had gobbled all mine down.

Freddy and his new friend 'Bear'

Stew - re stringing his guitar


That night we set up the equipment all ready to go. There were a fair few people in the room, so it was going to be a good night. Then tragedy. About a quarter to 8, Tiff, one of the workers there, came to us and said she got a phone call from Pauline and we were not to start performing. There had been a car accident not far away involving 3 of the locals who were driving to the hotel to see us perform. 2 girls and one guy. 

So we waited to hear more news. By about 9pm, we still hadn't heard anything and it didn't look like were were going to get to perform. In the meantime we got to meet some of the regulars, and started a pool competition; me and stew against Ron and Barry. We were all as bad as each other. It seems these guys drink from morning to nightime, so they were pretty under-the-weather by this time. Ron is one of those Aussie blokes who has a lot of colouful yarns to tell.

He told us about the time Slim Dusty apparently came to the Top Springs hotel to perform. And just as he was about to get up and perform, a big brawl broke out in front of him. Ron reminded us we weren't the only one's that didn't get to perform here. He then finished the story by saying that Slim Dusty eventually wrote a song called "I'll never go to Top Springs Again". Haha.

We went on like this till about 10 pm and Tiff said that she didn't think we were going to perform. There was an air of gloom around the room. We had learnt that there was one fatality and one other critically injured. Thats all we knew. Ambulance and police are not fast around here because of the distances. It was such a shame everyone was really looking forward to some entertainment.

Pauline finally got back from the accident after 11 pm. Apparently she and two other young locals were the only ones at the scene of the accident to comfort the two girls for an hour or so until the ambo's arrived. We had already started packing up our equipment. Pauline said she wasn't sure if our second gig on the Saturday night, just outside Top Springs would go on. Anyway, Pauline still paid us for the Friday gig, whiich was very kind indeed.

The fatality was a young guy called 'Skeed', who had just come back from fighting bushfires that day. The two girls were still lying on the gravel with what looked like head injuries. They weren't wearing seat belts and were thrown out of the car. 

We sat around in silence for a while and then went to bed.


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