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The End and The beginning

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Well the 50 gigs in 50 days tour has reached its end. A whirlwind trip that the boys and I will never forget.
I would like to thank our sponsors.

Ashton Guitars
Barrier Signs-Taree
Stacks Law firm-Taree
Taree City Centre

Thankyou to The Australian Childrens Music fund for your support during the trip and all of our family, friends and fans who came out and supported our shows.

It doesn’t end here as I have just landed at l.A airport to meet up with Josh and our new trip begins.

First stop buy a travel guitar.

First stop buy a travel guitar.

Day 15 – Alice Springs.

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Day 15 – Alice Springs.

This trip has been full of unexpected things but winery’s and mango’s in the middle of the desert would have to be up there.

We started of day 15 with the knowledge we were heading straight for the centre of Australia and we were all pretty exited. We had about 400 kms left of the drive and got into it as soon as we woke up. It was a fairly cold nights sleep.
Something you don’t expect out in the outback is the cold weather. Even with its searing summer days it often gets down to near 0 degree temperatures at night because of the lack of cloud cover.

On the way to Alice we saw an unexpected sign for mango’s. you expect to see mango’s in tropical North Queensland but not so much in the outback. But there is was a mango winery. We took the turn and put our hand up for the free wine tasting. The boys had quiet a few samples and I had to restrain myself as I was the driver for the day. I did have a small sample however and purchased a bottle. A very late Mother’s Day present.

The landscape started to change. The red rock rose out of the earth in great ranges. And as our phones started to go wild from 5 days of missed messages and calls we knew we were back to civilization. We grabbed a quick photo opp with the Alice springs sign and then made our way Down the hill into the town. Alice has become a real tourist town a haven for backpackers and grey nomads alike wanting to experience the real Australian outback.

Alice was originally called Stuart an old telegraph station on the line from Darwin to Adelaide in 1862. So every where you look is remnants of the old town as well as the new tourist facade.
After a great sit down show at the Gab View hotel just on the outskirts of town. We decided to cut tomorrows drive and drive to Stuart’s well about 90ks out. The strain of the trip has started to take a tole and the flu has set in. Not what you want when you still have over 30 shows to go. We will see how it turns out.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 14 – Tenant creek

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Day 14 – Tenant creek

Today is a big one. The land of million acre properties. Camel crossings and 130kmh speed limits is up ahead. Northern Territory here we come.

We started of nice and early for day 14. We were heading for Tenant creek. A town smack bang in the middle of the territory, but we had a long way to go. The drive between Camooweal and tenant creek was about 600 kms . The biggest drive on the tour so far. We grabbed some breaky and fueled up at the servo. Something that I wasn’t aware of was the price of fuel as you get this far out, $1.79 per L and apparently is was only going to get worse.

We started the drive and it wasn’t to long until we crossed the border. The sign posts showed 130 and we put our foot down. But even with the increase speed restrictions it is still seriously a long way.
Road train after road train, the drive was becoming fairly monotonous. We were on a dead line so site seeing was limited. Today was all about the drive. But after a lot of shit talk, Paul Kelly songs and celery and peanut butter we made it with time to spare.

The show went great. It was the biggest day of the year for tenant creek. The tenant creek races brought everyone out from the farms and they were all in the mood to party. A perfect setting for a great gig.
After the show we packed up. And decided to knock over a bit of the 600ks it was to our next show at Alice springs. We ended up finding ourselves at a little road house about 4hrs north of Alice.
With all the lights off our attention was soon sent to the skies. The stars out here are incredible. The Milky Way shines bright and we sat on the roof of the van for hours and discussed life and the enormity of the universe that surrounds us. Such an incredible way to experience the outback and not a bad way to wrap up day 14.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 13 – Camooweal

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Day 13 – Camooweal

Something that always surprises me on this trip is how generous Australians are and none were more so than the folk in the little community of Camooweal.
Day 13 started of pretty crazy. we had a bit of down time so we decided to go and look around the town. The night before Matt had damaged his phone so a quick walk into Telstra was needed. I on the other hand was searching for some travelling music, Macklemore on repeat is great, but after 2500ks your wanting to hear something new. I got it sorted and purchased the new Paul Kelly CD something very different to what we had been listening to but it was great to listen to a story teller of a different kind. We then had a short drive, well short for outback standards. 258 km away was our next gig.

On the drive Josh got his first upset. A local cop sitting just outside of town was hiding. Josh is always the sensible driver and I can say that cause I don’t always fall into the same category. But with josh comfortably sitting on 57 in what he though was a 60 zone the unmistakable howl from the police sirens rang out. Josh, still confident he was doing the right thing. Was trying to figure out why on earth he would be doing a random breathe test at 3 o’clock on a Friday afternoon but what he failed to miss was the school zone signs he had just passed. So after a stern word and a bit if pleading from our end josh was send off 220 dollars poorer and 3 points worse off.

Camooweal was by far the smallest town we had been to so far on this journey, with only 310 people on a good day. There was the pub the servo and the corner store and besides from a couple of tin shacks that was about it. We really didn’t know how the show would go over in such a small place. But it went off.
We played late into the night.

At every show we always talk about the great work of the ACMF and hope to raise a bit of money for them. But on this night we didn’t need to even ask. As soon as the word got around about this great cause so did the hat and quickly an old Akubra full of coins and notes was placed in front of us. After later counting it the town had thrown in over $500 dollars. Not a bad effort at all for a town of only a bit over 300 people.
Thanks guys.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 12 – Mt Isa

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Day 12 – Mt Isa

After a disappointing finish to day 11 we knew it could only get better. We were on our way to Mt Isa, a large mining community in the centre of North Queensland about 5 hours off the Northern Territory border. Mt Isa has really boomed in recent years due to the mining boom taking place in Australia and really has been the backbone of the Australian economy.
As you drive into town the presence of mining is every where, 100 meter stack that bellow out steam overlook the town and are an ever present reminder of what keeps this place alive.

Mt Isa was a bit of a relief for me, I have performed out here many times so it was great to get back to seeing some familiar faces. We got into town nice and early and settled ourselves in. Josh and I had a bit of a catch up. While Matt took off on a tour around town. He was shown around the huge open cut mine and the local watering hole and came back buzzing with stories.

After a great show. The boys were pretty exhausted so they made there way back to the motel. A good friend of mine was kind enough to show me the nightlife in town. Not the most happening place on a Thursday however. But it was good night. So now I’m lying in bed with both boys out to the world. I’m pretty exited about getting closer to the NT only one more stop and we are in the red centre. Can’t wait.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 11 – Cloncurry

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Day 11. Cloncurry

Dj Holden’s and dinosaur’s was the way we kicked of day 11. An unusual combination but that is what Hughenden is famous for. The FJ Holden cafe is a must stop. Full of great racing memorabilia and unusually Elvis memorabilia it has that quirky character that you find so appealing out here.
After we ate our big breaky we were asked to come down to the local dinosaur museum for a personal tour. It is set up at the back of the town information centre and boast an impressive fossilized Muttabuttasauraus. We were told all about its past and it was incredible to image that back millions of years ago where we were standing would have been under 80 feet of water in the ocean.
After some sight seeing it was now time to make our way to Cloncurry.
I write this part with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. So far on this trip everyone has been amazing and extremely friendly and the venues couldn’t have looked after us more. But I guess not everything can be smooth sailing. Last nights gig was at the oasis hotel in Cloncurry. We arrived with not a sign that we were coming, not a poster in site. Put we set up and performed the show anyway. After the completion of the gig we went to collect the money from the show. We realize that a Wednesday night is a hard night to get people to come out but we charge accordingly and really only make enough to barely cover fuel cost. Some times in this game it really is a labor of love. But without missing a beat the pub owner said “No, I’m not paying you”. And there wasn’t much we could do about it. After our disbelief and some back and forth. And without going fist to fist there really wasn’t much we could do. So I write this to say if you ever pass through Cloncurry please don’t waste a cent of your money at the oasis hotel.
Lets hope this doesn’t happen again.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 10 – Hughenden

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Day 10 – Hughenden

We are now getting out to the land of straight roads and red dirt. The thought of the emptiness of the outback didn’t sound to interesting to three now well accustomed city boys. But we were so wrong. This place is full of amazing and aw inspiring beauty with plenty to see.

We were heading for Hughenden. A small town about 4 hours west of charters towers. We had an early starts as we were performing for the only local school that day.
The landscape out here really has started to change. We stopped in at a look out on the way. It over looked a mountain range that had recently been burnt out. a common practice still performed By the aboriginal people in the bush to help Clear vegetation and promote new growth. The kooeee from our voices ping-ponged across the valley.
And as the distant echoes of our voices slowly faded it really made us realise how alone we are out here.

We pulled into the local school. The school was the only school in town and catered from kindergarten to year 12 but still only had around 150 student. We put on a show for them and had everyone singing along. It really was a lot of fun.
After a bit of house (van) keeping. We set up for the nights gig. With my new single blaring as we walked into the pub and our picture plastered across the front page of there local paper I new it was going to be a good one, and it was. The show was suppose to go from 8 – 10 but we were having so much fun that the music didn’t stop until around 12.30.
After the show we were informed that to really experience Hughenden you had to climb the dinosaur. As strange as it sounded Matt and I couldn’t say no. The dinosaur was a massive statue that sat in the middle of town. Getting caught climbing it came with a hefty 300 dollar fine. So we had to be quick. But after straddling our way up we did it. An unusual way to finish day 10.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 9. – Townsville / Charters Towers

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Day 8. – Townsville / charters towers

Waking up on day 8 of the tour we all new what today had in store and had been looking forward to this day for some time. Today we were off to visit the Juvenile detention centre in Townsville. We were apprehensive and exited all at the same time. Part of the great work that the Australian Children’s music Foundation do is put music teachers into detention centers across Australia.

As we drove up to the gates at the centre, I have to admit it was a bit unnerving seeing 10 foot barb wire fences and security check points strikes a certain fear into you. But with a big smile on his face our contact Lance greeted us and helped us make our way into the centre.

Lance was the teacher at the school and knew these kids better than anyone. We walked into the room full of patiently awaiting boys. We took our seats and after a short introduction the room was ours. We really wanted to go into this work shop and find out more about these boys. After playing a song we went around an asked which of the boys played music. After pointing to each other and trying to par the question off to their mates. One of the boys sitting quietly in the corner sat up and told us about a rap he had written.

With lance on the guitar and with all of us sitting quietly waiting he started telling his tale. The song was an apology to his mother for all the pain he had caused her. It really was incredible and we really appreciated it that he shared it with us. This was defiantly the highlight of the visit.

After saying goodbye to the class and a quick tour around the centre we packed up and started the drive to charters towers. So now we are setting up in a little Irish bar on a Monday night. Might be a quiet one.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 8 – Bowen

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Day 8 – Bowen

After a could of hours of burning the midnight oil we pulled over and set up camp of the side of the road just outside of Proserpine. Lucky for us. And not to our knowledge we had parked just next to where a big special Mothers day Sunday markets was being set up. When your normal choice of breakfast options on the road are either cold oats or greasy bacon and eggs at a truck stop, the idea of fresh organic produce sounded incredible. We filled up on fresh fruit and fresh brew coffee and sat down and watched some great local singers performing to the crowd.
After chatting to the girls and telling them about the ACMF Charity we are touring for they offered for us to jump up on stage. We couldn’t say no. So we ran back to the van grabbed our guitars and plugged in. We rocked out a few tunes, passed around the hat and made some great cash for the cause. We couldn’t have been happier.

Turning off the highway at the big mango just outside of Bowen, none of us new what to expect from this little town. I have driven past many time on my way from Mackay to Townsville but have never stopped in. And after today’s visit I regret not coming earlier.
Bowen would have to be one of the most beautiful places in Australia. Set across the water from the Whitsunday’s Bowen is a little coastal community about 2hrs south of townsville. With crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches it is a travelers dream.

We set up our gear and with 3 hours up our sleeves we made our way to the beach. It was such a great way to unwind and freshen up and really put us in a great mood for the nights gig. And it turned out to be the best gig of the tour so far. Mike the owner is an ex state of origin footy player, and after having a successful career playing along side boys like Wally Lewis he open the Grandview hotel in town. The place is set right across the road from the water and is now a haven for backpackers and it went off. After playing for an our overtime we kicked back with the boys and had a yarn. The perfect ending to what has been the best day on the road so far.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

Day 7 – Mackay

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Day 7 – Mackay

After 4 years of Travelling on the road I’ve met a lot of people around Australia. And as we drove into Mackay it was no exeption. Already on this trip it has been a great experience to reconnect with a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a long time.
Some good friend to all 3 of us boys the Boumford’s opened their doors up and welcomed us into their home. They couldn’t of looked after us more. We kicked our feet up for a bit, enjoyed some great home cooked food and just enjoyed some good company.

After Gabbi trying to teach Matt the cup song and Matt no being so successful at it we said our goodbyes and made our way to the gig.
Tonight we are back in the luxury of of van. And making our way to the beautiful waters of the Whitsunday’s. Can not wait.

JAMES / JOSH / MATT.
www.jamesjohnston.com.au
www.joshmccartneymusic.com.au
www.facebook.com/mattgrahammusic

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