Sunset over Tuggerah Lakes taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Sunset over Tuggerah Lakes taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Patricia Newell-Dunkley – Photographs by Reginald J. Dunkley.

In January all roads lead to Tamworth New South Wales, for the annual Country Music Festival, Australia’s largest music festival and rated in the top ten in the world.

Each year the largest music festival in the Southern Hemisphere attracts fifty thousand visitors per day, with over seven hundred artists featured in two thousand and eight hundred scheduled events across eight venues. The variety of Country Music is endless!

There are over six hundred Buskers in Peel Street, Tamworth, alone providing a diverse range of entertainment each day. The pinnacle event of the Festival is the Golden Guitars – Country Music Awards of Australia, when the who’s who of Australian Country Music gathers with fans to see who will win the famous awards.

Lorikeet in the garden eating breakfast. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Lorikeet in the garden eating breakfast. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

The population of Tamworth doubles as the city welcomes visitors to its festival, now in its 44th year. The event most anticipated is the “Buskers Boulevard of Dreams” where performers hope to be spotted for their talent and follow in the footsteps of some of the country’s biggest stars. Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole and Keith Urban who all started out busking.

This year Karin Page of Wembley Downs Western Australia has won Toyota Star maker 2016. Troy Cassar-Daley took out the single of the year and two song awards. Lee Kernaghan won 3 Golden Guitars including top selling Australian Album of the year, and Catherine Britt was voted female artist. Allan Caswell and Manfred Vijars won Bush Ballad of the year with “One Last Muster” and Christie Lamb was named new talent with “Broken Record”. Doug Gallacher was presented with Special Musician of the Year Award, and Graeme Connors was inducted to the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown.

Once again the Malaysian Airline Flight 370 which vanished nearly 2 years ago with 239 people on board has surfaced afresh. A large piece of curved metal washed ashore in Southern Thailand has created more speculation. Experts are now carefully examining the debris before making any statements. Meanwhile Australia is still overseeing the search for MH370, investigators still believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370’s Transponder before turning the aircraft South. Australia has committed $60 million to the search for the plane, which is expected to finalise in June once the designated area has been completely covered.

Seagull showing how flying  is done. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Seagull showing how flying is done. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

The Torres Strait Islanders are one of two distinct indigenous groups in Australia, with the other being Aboriginal peoples. The islands are located between Northern Cape York Peninsula and the Borders of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. There are at least 274 islands in the Torres Strait, with 18 of these being home to present day communities. Historically, Torres Strait Islanders have an oral culture, and stories are communicated through song, dance and performance. The sea, land, sky and waterways are central to many creation stories that predate colonisation and have a significant presence today.

Torres Strait Islanders are the only culture in the world to make Turtle shell Masks, known as Krar, in the Western Islands and Ie-op (which translates to human face) in the Eastern Islands. These striking objects have attracted Anthropologists and Ethnographers to study the region.

In 1898-99 The British Anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon undertook an expedition to the Islands, collecting 2,000 objects, including examples of Pre-Christian material culture. Today, the Haddon Collection at Cambridge University in the U.K. is regarded as the most comprehensive, representative and well-documented collection of Torres Strait Islanders material culture in the world.

Torres Strait Islander Peoples have existed on the continent of Australia for tens of thousands of years. Their art and traditions are among the oldest and richest in human history. The designs, Patterns and Stories were taught to indigenous Australians by the Ancestors and are reinforced and replicated through ritual, dance, song, body painting, rock engravings, and paintings, and on domestic and ritual objects.

Their art is as alive today as it was thousands of years ago and much sought after. As in the ancient past, the art is inseparable from everyday life. Art is the lifeblood of their communities, and fascinating it is. You can view it at these galleries.

Japingka Gallery Fremantle. Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh. Torres Strait Islanders Art from Badu Island. Gab Titui Cultural Centre.

Samuel MacFarlane a member of The London Missionary Society converted the people of the Southwest Pacific to Christianity in 1871. Today “The Coming of The Light” is a holiday celebrated by the Torres Strait Islanders on 1st July each year. It recognises the adoption of Christianity through Island Communities during the 19th Century. Torres Strait Islanders of all denominations wherever they live, in the Islands or on the mainland, come together to honour this anniversary. The Torres Strait Islanders three-day Festival is a time like no other in Australia. Church services and a re-enactment of the landing at Kemus on Erub are central to the day’s activities. Hymn singing, feasting, strengthens the community and family ties. This is the perfect time to visit the Islands and savour their rich culture.

At Shelly Beach the Lifesavers have been busy with surfing lessons during the school holidays, both for juniors and seniors. There are still plenty of holiday-makers around the region, with some outback country folk visiting the sea for the first time.

Here in the garden there is a wealth of birds and we had a visit from three beautiful White Cockatoos, which usually travel in a flock of hundreds. This time of the year is when they move around like a white cloud seeking water. Princess Pixie the Pomeranian has given up looking for the lizard, which seems to have gone walkabout.

My books “Letters of a Travelling Lady, Wallis the Woman I Love, and The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain” are available on Amazon or Xlibris and my website     Enjoy.

Cheers. Patricia.