Blogcard from Leura, NSW, Australia

I am not quite sure where we are as Claire arranged this, but I am writing from a beautiful country house hotel in the northerly part of the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Last night, Claire Roche performed for a wonderful audience, about 60 people, packed into a gallery of the Everglades Gardens in a beautiful garden suburb of a quaint small town called Leura. The concert was scheduled to be on the ornate stage of their outdoor theatre but thunderstorms and lashings of rain changed the plan. The gallery proved to be a terrific alternative. Guy, the curator, quickly set up a perfect mood lighting and the acoustics were superb. Best of all, so were the audience superb. They were with Claire from the start and she performed her best for them. The end was a very moving rapturous standing ovation. What delighted both of us was the folks asking for CDs of her work, not Irish songs. We were supposed to have performed our joint Veil Between Two Worlds show but the jet lag caught up on me and I backed out. Claire alone on this evening was the perfect choice. I had a small Sony Handycam present. No idea how the recordings will be, but will YouTube something in due course.

Leura, the town, surprised me. To me it was a beautiful clone of Carmel, California, but just not near the sea. The subtle and sometime almost fairy tale book architecture was similar as well as the heavily blossomed tree lined roads. It is late spring here but my mindset is still with fall and autumn of the northern hemisphere we have just left but it was a glowing delight to experience the abundant blossoms, tulips and carpets of bluebells among the trees, all in October. Leura’s suburbs seem to be full of proud and very active gardeners determined to sustain this paradise, and the Everglades Garden where we were was a prize jewel in their crown.  

Getting to Leura was a personal treat for me. I had joined Claire in Sydney, where she had been performing on radio and in concerts for nearly two weeks.  I was met by my old school friend Rodney, now long time resident of Sydney, who was eager that I experienced their wonderful city.

As much as I try its so, so hard for me to become excited by large cities so I did not really explore Sydney. My passion was fixed on wonder of what was beyond. My flight in was at a window seat where I saw Australia unfold below from the remote coast west of Darwin through the unique formations of mountain rows in semi desert, the rolling dunes of pure desert, and gradually into the fertile plains and then valleys of New South Wales.  

From what I saw of Sydney I was intrigued by what seemed to be a hybrid of South London with the USA towns of the mid west, south and Texas. I did not see or feel and Ireland or Scotland influence. I was told that I should visit Melbourne and Adelaide for that. I was also surprised to not see the multi cultured and races like in Euro large towns now, but maybe I was not there long enough.

Anyway, I was delighted to be on the road into the country. Our first stop was for a film recording for ABC television at Miss Traills House in Bathurst. As Claire is performing a concert there in a few days I will leave description until then. However, our directions were arranged by both a printed Google Maps and a Garman sat-nav. Claire was driving this leg and chose to use the Google maps with me as navigator. Looking down the list of directions I could see the entire 3 to 4 hour journey was to be motorways and major highways and did not arouse excitement in me, especially as we were leaving at 6:30 am after a late night after my 2 day flight to get to Australia.

However, Claire missed a turn in Sydney city, and not due to any lack of driving attention on her part I must add, but it did inspire the switch from Google Maps to Garman sat-nav. The sat-nav plan took us away from the motorways and into the remote winding and climbing ways over the Blue Mountains. A combination of forestry with tall gnarling trees, red and blue stoned canyons and gorges and delightful remoteness. Claire loved it too. This journey seemed a duplication of our drive over eastern Arizona and western New Mexico last March, still my favourite part of the USA. However, where those USA roads wound up and down elevations up to 12,000 feet I think the Blue Mountains make it to 4000 feet, but it sometimes seemed a lot more.

Unfortunately,  due to pressure of time to be at the TV recording there was not the time to stop and inhale the spectacular off road view points but we did stop at the top of one mountain for a back to nature bathroom break. Fortunately, due to either instinct, habit or divine guidance I left the road on a woodland track to ensure privacy I came upon a clearing with a huge stone standing stone embedded into what must have been a sacred rock. I had discovered an Australian megalith! Photos here soon, I hope.

Down from the hills, morning hunger set in, time for “brekky”, not breakfast here. We knew that because the cafe signs said so “Fresh Brekky Here!”. In Ireland the large petrol/gas stations have ready cooked breakfast ingredients in warmer bins ready for the asking. Here it is truly fresh, say what you want, thrown onto the grill or “barbie” and its as fresh as it can get!

Well I’m now here in the room of the Liianfels Hotel of Echo Point who’s literature motto is “Enliven You Senses”, and we are waiting for “brekky” delivered to the room. This is a rare lay in day. Surprisingly its like our past Irish summer day, cool mid 50s F with showers, then this afternoon its off to the evening concert in the Cathedral Cave of the Jenolan Caves complex only about 40 miles from here so no rush to leave.

Bernadette Lannan who was to sing with Claire cannot make it so I may be adding some folk drama to the show instead. So here’s working on my folk drama lines before indulging in my glorious brekky hot off the barbie before our walk-about into the arvo.

Until my next OZ Blogcard,

John of Celtic Ways.



  1. Hi John, Wendy and I were at the concert at Everglades last night which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Claire is an exceptional artist with that unique ability to deliver a truly ethereal performance. With the rain coming down, it reminded me of a trip I made to Kilarney and the Ring of Kerry a few years ago, when I heard some local musicians...(can't remember names now). Anyway, we were entranced and it was a real treat to talk with Claire afterward. We wish you both all the best with the rest of your tour in Oz.


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