Travelblog 2013 Sydney Get-Together...Still Shaking my Head...Bloody Brilliant


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August 9th 2013
Published: August 9th 2013
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Travelblog 2013 Sydney Get-Together...Still Shaking my Head...Bloody Brilliant.

T'was an idea inspired by Red River theRedRiver coming to Australia...t'was an idea that John & Sylvia wanted to meet that Queen of Vietnam...only came together because it engenders Travelblog...the World's friendliest travel site...like-minded people once strangers...now friends...emerging from the ether...in Sydney...the World's friendliest city.

In 2012 I said "Bugger it...let's go to K.L." for Travelblog's 10th Birthday party.

In 2013 Jo Jo Trouble from New Zealand said "Bugger it...let's go to Sydney."

Then Cindy littlewing from Perth booked flights.

Date set for Sunday 28 July 2013...my place as it turned out.

Rachael RJT can, John and Sylvia can, Shelley and Scott can't, Tom Rooney can't...Red River in Sydney the week before...time to advertise.

If Jo & Cindy travelling so far...better offer accommodation...and some entertainment.

How about Friday to Monday?

O.K.

So all I had to do was make it happen.



The Friday

Collected Jo from the station that morning...last time I saw her was in Kuala Lumpur.

Hear the call "O Dancing One"...big hugs..."Great to see you again."

Denise Laila the Tuareg showed her her room...time to show Jo around.

So we headed into the bush behind our place...weather crisp but warm...sky vivid blue...Sydney fine day in winter...no better time.

Collected Cindy from the airport at 5.30...none of us had met her before...instant friends...its like that with Travelblog.

Time to impress the ladies...off to Thai Riffic...Sydneys best Thai restaurant in Newtown.

Cocktails, 5 Spiced duck, Pad Thai soft shelled crab, Massamun curry, Lemongrass prawns, steamed jasmine rice with peanut sauce...delicious.

But where's Jo?

There she is...in the kitchen...the chefs doing pyrotechnics for her lens.

Back to our place for lashings of Blues & West African music, conversation & nightcaps...late night...sleep well...busy day tomorrow.



The Saturday

Really looking forward to this day...amazing frittata from Denise's kitchen for breakfast...Tall ships on Sydney Harbour booked for the afternoon...Rachael to join us...a special surprise booked for the evening.

We didn't ask for a sign to bless our gathering...but it seemed our Patron Ali Ali was smiling on us from USA.

Above us a plane signwiting "T.B"...getting confused writing "T.B.N. org"...lucky we got our photos in...yep...we'll take that as encouragement!

The tall ship was the 'Soren Larsen'...a two masted barque with only about 20 people aboard...Aussies, Dutch, Danish & Brits...and a brave New Zealander...Jo Trouble's the name...climbing to the crows nest...long long way up...stayed up there for ages...no way any of us are joining you!

Gotta say the tall ship experience was fantastic.

Cruised past a giant ocean liner...past the Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House...light flickering off the wave tips...blue cloudless sky...light fresh breeze...past Fort Denisen...navy ships...headlands...all soaking up the thrill of togetherness on the high seas...myself the only male with "my girls" as I dared call them...talk about exhilerating & pleasant.

Jo climbing the rigging...if there were clouds she'd be among them...step by step...stopping for our zoom lenses to capture the moment...sitting up the top...legs dangling...lucky they let her take her camera up there.

Cindy chatting up the Captain...taking the helm...will we now collide or capsize?

Rachael & Denise chatting away...their smiles flashing light off the sails...Travelbloggers uniting...Ah...this is the life...couldn't be nicer.

Good byes to Rachael...see you tomorrow...Denise & I want to take Jo & Cindy to a photographic exhibition...It's 4pm...have we time to walk or do we need a taxi?

See a crowd gathering...check it out...4 people lying on their backs...a guy cycling around them...calling the crowd to gather in.

Street theatre...lot of banter...this could be good.

He juggling knives, flaming torches...a buzzing chainsaw...then rigged a BMX bike on a pole...ring-ins holding ropes...climbs the pole...onto the bike...juggling knives, flaming torches high off the ground...me capturing him silhoutted against a building...thinking of the Binkley's D MJ Binkley "Bicycles Transportation or Art" thread on TB...reckon this will be up there...dropping our donations into his hat...that was a sensational show!!!

We definitely need a taxi now...phew...managed to find one..."the State Library please."

The World Press Photographers Awards Exhibition...free entry...sensational ...inspiring...contemplative...some disturbing.

Then an exhibition of Portraits of Homeless Personalties of Sydney...sobering...fascinating faces reflecting hard times...some with names...some with names withheld.

Lights flickering...closing time...time to move...time to head off for our surprise event booked for 7.30pm.

5pm in the city is quiet...few people around...time for coffee...but not sure what is open.

Down Hunter Street...light fading...air getting nippy...then Denise saw it...Max Brenner's Chocolate Cafe...mmm...time for a bit of liquid fantasy.

Sipping our thick hot Italian chocolate mochas...mucking around like kids on a picnic...checking mobiles between sips.

Then one saw it...a message from Shane The Travel Camel in Ethiopia...there is another RSVP for tomorrow.

Gotta say this was fortunate as otherwise we would not have got this message and this TBer would not have known where to go.

So I emailed Jan from SkiSet with details for Sunday luncheon...meant to be.



Gypsy Swing

When you plan a surprise it really helps if it comes with a plain wrapping and the insides explode with colour.

And so it was with what we had planned for Jo & Cindy tonight...even better than Denise & I expected.

Pretty dingy old brick warehouse feel outside...with narrow steep steps to the first floor...then wows & more wows.

Welcome to Camelot Lounge...Sydney's best kept secret...the home of World Music...the brainchild of Yaron Hallis...so named as its full of pictures & models of camels...eccentricity plus.

Centre table front row...best spot in the house for our TB friends...Jo & Cindy smiles and grins all night...if Shane was here you wouldn't be able to get him out.

This was a rare event...musicians invited from around the country...for Yaron's chance to showcase his own compositions with tastes of Monsieur Camembert, Leonard Cohen & lashings of Hungarian & Russian gypsy swing...amazing talent.

Opened by a drummer extraordinaire, lead flamenco vibrato guitar, a cello played as a bass, a flat box zither called a dulcimer played with hooked hammers, a guy on saxaphone, clarinet & accordian and Yaron on bodyless guitar and sweet sweet vocals...mesmerising...or as Cindy says "AWESOME".

Played to midnight...place packed...no-one wanting to leave.

Back at our place...more West African blues...really late night...better get some sleep...another big day tomorrow!!!



The Sunday

Today is the official Get-Together...gotta be on our best behaviour...visitors coming at 12.30.

Denise Laila the Tuareg has been cooking up a storm.

Breakfast of rock melon, juicy strawberries, yoghurt, fresh muesli & orange juice.

Jo Jo Trouble & Cindy littlewing giving our Nespresso machine a workout.

Rachael RJT the first to arrive...with salads...then John and Sylvia with home made apple pie...then Jan from SkiSet with juices...chatting away on our deck...wouldn't think some have just met for the first time.

An announcement...time for a bit of competition...collect your drinks and the nibbles...follow me.

We went down the back to our International standard boules course...mowed areas behind several houses backing onto the bush.

Jo & Sylvia, John & Cindy, Rachael & Jan & to make it fair...just me as team 4.

Pretty competitive I must say...skill of no assistance on this course...pure luck I say...how else can you explain some decisions by an eighth of an inch...how else can you explain John & Cindy in the lead when the bell rang for lunch?



Lunch

For nibbles...Rosemary crispbread, Iraqi fresh dates with a choice of cheeses...King Island smoked cheddar, Tasmanian washed rind, English Stilton & Dutch Leiden.

For mains...Individual ramekins of Denise's Basque chicken pies and Curried beef pies with Rachael's salad.

For dessert...Sylvia's home-made apple pie with custard & cream

Washed down with...Soda with lemon slices, orange juice and Australian Riesling & Sauvignon blanc.

And then there was the music...3 compilation CDs of music from Mali and West Africa for warm up...followed by Orchestra Baobab "Specialist in all Styles" from Senegal, Jack Johnson "In between Dreams" and Icehouse "Masterfile".

And throughout the weekend I also played for Jo & Cindy...Geoff Achison "Each Long Day", Chain "Sweet Honey", Cruel Sea "The Honeymoon is Over", Dirty Lucy "Dark Green", Rokia Traore "Tchmanche", Lobi Traore "Duga', Baaba Maal "Television" and "Nomad Soul", Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba "Segu", Jonny Lang "Turn Around", Fine Young Cannibals "FYC" and Crowded House "Recurring Dream."



Special Guest

At TB's 10th Birthday in Kuala Lumpar in 2012 I had carried a photo of Shane The Travel Camel as he was unable to attend due to illness, which the ladies kindly kissed for my blog.

He then joined us in KL by Skype from Brisbane, Australia.

For our Sydney 2013 event Shane was again unavailable, this time due to swanning around overseas.

So he joined us by Skype from Axum in Northern Ethiopia (ancient capital of the Axumite Empire of Queen of Sheba fame)...waxing lyrical as usual...after seeking enlightenment at a dawn sevice of the Festival of Mary.

He nearly climbed out of the ipad when he saw the delicious pies we were eating!



*******

What a wonderful day.

Denise & I thank those that attended and contributed to a very special occasion.



The Monday

Last day today...Cindy has a shark dive booked for 1pm at Manly and Jo & I are hoping to photograph her being eaten by sharks (a Travelblog first if it works out!!!).

Jo & Cindy will catch a ferry from Manly to Sydney and stay overnight in the city and fly out on Tuesday.

So after a last delicious breakfast of banana bread and sliced fruits I take Jo & Cindy into the valley to Crosslands where I also took Bob, Linda and Will of Home and Away last year.

It was another glorious day...couple of cars around but really just us to explore this river bushland park.

The large tepid pool surrounded by casuarinas and she-oaks was like a massive private mirror...stunning reflections...a water bird in a tree drying its wings or showing off for us.

Along the boardwalk then rough track along the river to the rock ledge where the kids used to swing and swim when they were small...water birds skimming the surface...the water various shades of blues & greens...then we had to go.



Sharks, rays, turtles & brave divers

The Manly Ocean World was a thrill for me.

Being very non-technical my photography relies heavily on my "eye" to capture a shot with my point and shoot.

This day was special as Jo gave me camera tutorials on adjustment of ISOs and aperture priority as we waited for Cindy and her friend Anthony to enter the shark tank, that I know will dramatically improve my concert photography.

I believe it radically improved my shots of the creatues of the deep.

So to those that like my portrait photography, I reckon I can now take it to another level.

Thanks Jo.

The photography down there was heaps of fun.

I always enjoy taking photos with other Travelbloggers...this time with Jo.

I believe Cindy was eaten by a shark...but was then spat out to live another day...and just my luck...I had my back turned at the pivotal moments...and missed pics of that...hope Jo caught them!!!

Later, our last meal together...fish and chips by the beach with gulls attacking our heads to get to our chips...Jo snapping away.

*********

The things you've gotta do on a Travelblog Get-Together.

Can't wait for the next one.



Relax & Enjoy,

Dancing Dave


Additional photos below
Photos: 135, Displayed: 30


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9th August 2013
CAMELOT

Some fine looking camels in this photo!
9th August 2013
SHANE IS HUNGRY

Food, food, food
I was hungry at the time when looking at all of that delicious food, but am hungrier now after reading all of the detailed descriptions of what was on offer! It was great to be able to join the Travelblog get-together from afar.
9th August 2013
SHANE IS HUNGRY

Food, food, food
As Travelblog is starting a Food Forum...only fair to share that we eat amazingly at TB Get-Togethers. And yes...the Basque pies were sensational. Thanks for going to the trouble of attending by Skype from Axum, Ethiopia...our guests were blown away...and the reception was very clear!
9th August 2013

Where to start?
I don't know where to start thanking you Dave for the incredibly wonderful weekend you and your beautiful Denise gave us. It was my absolute pleasure to also spend time talking photography at the marina. I know there are some amazing concert photos heading TB's way in the future. Thank you so much Dancing Ones - miss you guys heaps. Bugger it, let's do this again!
9th August 2013

Bugger it, let's do this again!
Thanks go to you Jo for coming from NZ specially for our gig...I'm sure your sister was thrilled to see you too. It was our pleasure to share our home with you and show you around. Yep...Bugger it, let's do this again!
9th August 2013

So honored to have been a part of it :)
Oh you noticed I was chatting the captain up did you? Cannot thank you enough and to be part of this amazing blog and amazing community of travelers is 'awesome'. Have never felt so welcome, bring on the next get together! This line summed up what you and Denise managed to do for us the whole weekend - It really did explode with colour. "When you plan a surprise it really helps if it comes with a plain wrapping and the insides explode with colour" - Dancing Dave
9th August 2013

It really did explode with colour
Thanks Cindy for travelling so far to be part of a fun long weekend...joining people you had never met before. What a great time...and I really enjoyed introducing you...a rock chick from way back...with new music that blew you away. A bit like travelling...isn't it?
9th August 2013

What fun!
Looks like you all had such fun! Would be great to meet up with other TB'ers! The characters that are visible in each one's blog must be tenfold in person!
9th August 2013

What fun!
Thanks Alma. Busiest long weekend in my life...the TB community is amazing. And the company, activities, food and weather could not have been better.
9th August 2013

Great hosting!
Well what a memorable weekend, and the definitive tale of the weekend! Thanks again for being such fantastic hosts. I had a blast!
9th August 2013

Great hosting!
Always a pleasure to have you join us Rachael...your enthusism and smile lifts any room. No need to ask how we top this one...next time will sort itself out.
9th August 2013

Fantastic
We wish we had been there. Some day we will make it to one of these fabulous gatherings. Wow, and all that amazing food. Terrific that Shane made an appearance. TBer's have endless energy and curiosity. Thanks for sharing.
9th August 2013

Fantastic
Never ceases to amaze me what a fantastic lot are the Travelblog community...where else could you get-together with strangers and hit it off immediately? Hope this year's Sydney gig encourages others to make TB get-togethers a memorable event. Couldn't have been more pleased how it all came together.
9th August 2013
WHO IS HUNTING WHO?

Hunting who?
Great stuff
9th August 2013

I really must know......
Cindy claims to be a fellow pirate... Now, I really do need to know whether she swilled down the requisite bottle of rum that is made available to all budding seafarers once the sun has most firmly positioned itself over the yardarm, or did she most adamantly, refuse to take one for the team? As Cindy knows, I hold her in high esteem and as a likeminded pirate, I just like to keep myself apprised of her antics ;) Glad to hear that you all had a great time like only fellow Travel Bloggers can :)
9th August 2013

I really must know......
whether the photo of the ghost was you? Wouldn't be surprised if it was Nick...checking to make sure we were great hosts like you were in Vietnam. As to Cindy's pirating...for her to reply. The once rock chick is now embracing West African blues and gypsy swing...still diving...definitely embracing TB Get-Togethers...this being her first.
10th August 2013
RANDOM BREATH TEST

Random Breath Test
What's the legal limit for chocolate in your system and still operate a vehicle? Just as well we got a taxi, I think we would have all failed that test!! Probably why the cops hang around that part of town......
10th August 2013
RANDOM BREATH TEST

Random Breath Test
As I recall you got the shot of the actual test. The shots of Cindy, Denise & you in chocolate liquid fantasy tell it all
10th August 2013

Crosslands...
Thanks for the memories! Next time I'll fork over the airfare...sorry I missed such a great TB get together.
10th August 2013

Crosslands...
Would have been great to have you there Bob. As you can see from the pics it was high tide at Crosslands as it was morning when I took Jo & Cindy, while it was low tide when I took you guys. You'll be pleased to know I took you much further along the river though.
11th August 2013

T'was a good time...
...Can't add wonderful photos,though, cos I didn't take any (stupid!). Was too carried away with the moment. We can do Boules better than you. (Oh no you can't.) Let's do it again later in the year at Budgewoi.
11th August 2013

T'was a good time...
T'was indeed. Thanks for inspiring the event to happen John. Looking forward to a John & Sylvia event. I caught a stingray in Lake Budgewoi one night some years back...it rose above the water with zillions of little fish flashing in the moonlight like a silver rain firework...great spot you have up there.
23rd August 2013

Brilliant Blast!
The Dancing Duo have triumphed again! You two are the best party organizers ever! So fun to read of another great TBer gathering and with great details on adventure, food and music. Happy partying!
23rd August 2013

Brilliant Blast!
No point in just commenting Tara...you'll have to make sure you're at the next one...Now that's what I call a party!!!
24th February 2014
SYDNEY TRAVELBLOG GET-TOGETHER

When’s the next one?
This event is fast becoming Sydney’s premiere attraction.
24th February 2014
SYDNEY TRAVELBLOG GET-TOGETHER

When’s the next one?
When are you coming? You know we know how to turn on a good time!

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