Fred Smith: no time for full stops

Fred Smith met some colourful characters on his way through the NT. Photo by Madge Fletcher

By guest blogger, Fred Smith. Fred Smith is an Australian Diplomat and talented musician. His Dust of Uruzgan tour through the NT took in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin in May 2014.

What a trip.

Arrived at Alice Springs airport with wife and four month old daughter Ollie to be met by left-handed ranga tour manager Madge Fletcher who chucked us in the back of a HiLux then set me loose for the next two days on the high school students of Alice with workshops on songwriting, peacekeeping and everything in between before the show at Olive Pink Botanical Gardens outdoors alfresco amongst the trees under the moon lovely if a little chilly so I just played faster and slept better afterwards before we got back into the HiLux the next day and started barrelling up the highway to Tennant Creek which, though not preprocessing, turned out to be very friendly or perhaps too friendly as after a great little conference on songwriting with Marcus, Joseph, and Reggie at the Winanjjikari Music Centre and a profitable trip to the Tennant Creek races courtesy of a tip received from a  gentleman called Des at the pub in Barrow Creek, and a concert on the concrete slab out the back of the RSL, I fell to socialising with the Tennant Creek poet laureate, town  photographer and other residents to the extent that I nursed a sullen disposition all the way up to Katherine via Mataranka hot springs recovering in time to do a delightful songwriting, a peacekeeping workshop at Katherine High School and a concert at the extraordinary GYRACC building before the four hour drive to Darwin  where after attending mornos at Robertson Barracks, and yodelling and yarning with Kate O’Toole on ABC  I played to a full house at Brown’s Mart courtesy of some good press and a few personal connections – and then I slept.

It was busy. We never had time for a full stop. But it was good to spend two or three days in each place and sink beneath the surface a little. Madge knew everyone in the Northern Territory and by the end of the tour so did I. Talking to young people and sharing tales from my experiences in the Pacific and Afghanistan was the highlight. Big thanks to Artback NT for their elegant facilitation of an intriguing series of meetings of minds up and down the Stuart Highway.

You can listen to the radio segment with Kate O’Toole here.