Dogs on the road…

Highway of Lost Hearts, image by Todd Williams

Highway of Lost Hearts has just hit the road. In this tour blog playwright and actor, Mary Anne Butler, keeps us up to date with antics – and dogs – on the road. 

So here we are, several hundred kilometres south of Katherine, listening to The Triffids’ Wide Open Road as we soar down the Highway of Lost Hearts road tour. Ten weeks of friggen awesome coming up. Last night was our first official show outside Darwin, at Katherine’s GYRACC – the new Centre for performance, all shiny new and gorgeous. The three lovely women who work there welcomed us with smiles and pizza – Cath, Suzanne and Jayne. Plus we met Zues, the first dog of the tour – Suzanne’s gorgeous red heeler, seven years old and a bit moochy because he injured his paw and it’s making him limp. But he had enough in him for licks and a cuddle [he did the licking].

The Katherine show was a treat, with locals coming out to support us all – one woman visibly and loudly flinching when Mot kills the kangaroo, and quite a few belly laughs at the local references. We also had the bonus of some northerners in the audience, with Sean Pardy, Julie Blyth and Brad Fawcett coming down from Darwin for the show and to check out the GYRACC space. Julie bought a bottle of Moet to add to the one which Ang O’Donnell and Artback had given the Highway team. The post-show party was in the region of ‘classy’ to say the least.

The Katherine op shops took a beating: a pair of black thigh-high suede boots, a black felt cowboy hat, an awesome 1970’s Tupperware beetroot container, a 70’s polyester floral dress, an old style tool belt and Vlad – the carved wooden Viking covered in sheep’s wool – and everyone’s happy. We squeezed them all into the back of the van which is already stuffed with Highway of Lost Hearts set and lighting and other odds and ends, including our own eclectic gear [see below].

Ang has been with us for the last few days, and this morning she headed back to Darwin with Sean, Brad and Julie. Aimee [Tour Manager], Damien [Production Manager] and I [curry chef] poured ourselves into the tour bus and we reluctantly parted ways with our home base friends after trying to convince them to come all the way with us. Now THAT would be some kind of tour! Brad’s joining us again in Canberra in late August, and then Brad and I will drive the bus back from Cairns when the tour finally winds up – while Aimee flies back to be with her hubby Mark.

First stop today was Mataranka. Damo had his board shorts on at the crack of dawn in anticipation, and we wallowed in the hot springs for a relaxing half hour, surrounded by shrieking school kids – it being holidays n’ all. The second dog of the tour was Chloe: a small, white, fluffy, blind and deaf seventeen-something year-old girl who was accidentally hit in the head with a golf club when she was a pup, and has been demented ever since. Her mum is a grey nomad, who has been Chloe’s ‘carer’ since then – and she told me the thing she was most terrified of was the day she would have to ‘let Chloe go’.

Stop two was the Daly Waters pub – where the ‘curtain of bras’ still hangs down from the ceiling, but the dude from the play is no longer glued to his seat at the bar. I figure his liver probably compromised their relationship a long time ago. There we met Winston – a sixteen-something year-old stone-deaf Beagle with arthritis. His mum and dad are traveling through, and she also expressed terror at the time she would ‘have to let him go’. Seems to be the day of dogs on their last legs, but they all seem happy enough for now.

And then Elliot where we fuelled up and met a swag of hungry camp dogs who coveted Damien’s hot chips and my chocolate ice-cream. They settled for the hot chips.

Tennant Creek is our stop for tonight, with Highway having an ‘intimate reading’ at their Dirty Words event tomorrow night, plus a few workshops. The sun is starting to set on this magnificent, sparse country. I’d forgotten how utterly beautiful it is out here – constantly changing, evolving, revolving colours and textures: dry as dust one second, lush and ripe the next.

Damo is asleep in the back after his midday driving shift, Aimee is doing a terrific job of driving now and as we head off into the distance the moon has risen pale and full into the daytime sky, Laura Marling has taken over from The Triffids, and it’s all just awesome…

Aimee “I don’t like to commit to colours”: 4 pairs of boots, 4 winter coats, 4 pairs leggings, 4 beanies. Mostly black.

Damien had to go to the op shop on the first day to buy clothes for the tour because he was focused on obtaining a 3 to 5 pin connector and never got around to packing.

Ang O’Donnell “I’m only here for three days” packed: muesli and underwear.

Mary Anne “How many cases am I allowed to bring?”: 7 books, 3 notebooks, a toiletry bag the size of a small country and spices including: turmeric, pepperberries, sea salt, black mustard seeds, white mustard seeds, cloves, cardamon pods, star anise, garam masala, cumin seeds, ground coriander, cajun spice rub, sesame seeds, cinnamon quills, palm sugar, tamarind and moroccan spice rub. Needless to say we had our first curry of the tour on day one and tonight Damien is promising us his famous risotto.

…now that’s what I’m talkin’ about…

Mary-Anne xx