Monday, April 21, 2014
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MSU Choir Australian Tour Blog – Day 4

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The Morgan State University Choir is touring through Australia. Choir Director Dr. Eric Conway is blogging about the choir’s travels and experiences throughout the trip.

G’day Mate!

Today was a travel day to Canberra, Australia – pronounced Can-bra. Canberra is Australia’s capital city and the home of Australia’s parliament. Much like our own U.S. capital, Canberra is a territory, not a state or other political division. As told by our tour guide, Udo Jungmann, Canberra was created because the young country of Australia, founded in 1788, could not decide on whether to have Sydney or Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities, as its capital. So they decided to create a capital center somewhere in between this two city regions. Our ride to Canberra was 3 hours.

On the way to Canberra we made a rest stop in Berrima, a unique and historic village. It was established in 1831 and is the only example of an existing and largely preserved Australian Georgian colonial town. We enjoyed this quaint little town, especially the arts and crafts present – like the attached photo of ducks with colorful boots. One the most interesting sites on the way to Canberra was lake George. A lake with no water! The lake which must be at lest 25 miles long, is a extraordinary basin that collects rain when it rains, to the extent of water perhaps as deep at 20 feet in some parts when a lake. However, Australia goes through extended periods of drought, when over time the water evaporates and leaves the lake looking like a large field, where sheep graze.

Upon arrival in Canberra, we visited a mall for lunch. This was a huge mall, perhaps the size of our Arundel Mills Mall, but with two levels! Although several of the stores in this mall were similar to those in America, several were uniquely Australian, like the store called Hairhouse – Warehouse, where one could go wild buying hair!

We noticed how considerably colder it was than in Sydney. When we arrived the temperature was 49 degrees. We are told that during the evening, temperatures get below freezing.

We then drove up to the highest point in Canberra, Mt. Ainslee Lookout. We passed the Australian War Memorial on the way, which is has the distinction of being Australia’s most visited museum. We will tour this museum tomorrow. At the top of the mountain, we had a perfect view, as the day was especially clear. We took a group photo on the top of the mountain.

Only in Australia can one be driving along the highway, and see a mob of kangaroos. Mob is the appropriate word – see photos attached.

When we reached the hotel, Dr. Wilson and I, had only minutes to check-in and go to the radio station for an interview. The radio interview was scheduled to promote our concert tomorrow, Sunday, June 16, at the Australian National Univeristy. After the radio interview, we travelled to a welcome reception hosted by Australian American Association (AAA) in conjunction with the Embassy of the United States. The reception was held in a gallery of Aborigine Art Work. This gallery is run by Aborigine artists who were very proud of their work, which was all for sale. At the beginning of formal event, two Aborigine Didgeridoo players performed for the reception. Their music making was significant as the Didgeridoo is a wind instrument developed by the Aborigine over 1500 years ago, still played today. Afterwards, the choir sang two short selections, which was a musical way of saying thank you for the evening. It also was a great way to announce our concert tomorrow at the Australian National Univeristy. All were encouraged to attend. We believe that there will be another full house at this concert.

More to come. . .