Joanna Funk

music, gardening and my dog

Roaring Lion in Kooralbyn; My Two Worlds Meet

, Roaring Lion in Kooralbyn; My Two Worlds Meet

“You drive so much for us, Jo. We should come out to you. There’s a practice scheduled the week after the Nundah show. If you could find us some place to jam, maybe we can come out and make a weekend of it.”

Maui. Lead guitarist, Roaring Lion

That’s how this all started. Roaring Lion rehearsals are mostly in Browns Plains or the Gold Coast. Shows are in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunny Coast, so it’s a lot of driving for Mike and me. Maui’s fiancée Derrin suggested the idea of coming to Kooralbyn, and now we had a plan!

I asked Kooralbyn Community Group President Adrian Sandell about possibly camping on the Men’s Shed grounds. He spoke with Kooralbyn Valley resort managers John and Gemma Ryan. They are music enthusiasts and were super keen to have the band here, and now we had a place to play (The Wedding Shed), some food and accommodation, and a place to camp. How crazy good was that!

The date was fixed — August 12 2023 — we were on!

We settled on an “Open Air Rehearsal’ so that it could be free for the community and hopefully not cannibalise our paid shows. Luckily, the week before we were in north Brisbane, so the chances that someone going there would have chosen to come to Kooralbyn instead was pretty remote — although there were some that came to both (thank you Denise, Cat, and Kathy, and Wookie loves his reggae jumper. Here he is wearing it 🐾)

There would be no official promotion of Kooralbyn until after August 5, but there was plenty going on behind the scenes. Maui wanted to make a poster and asked me for an image of a sunset in Kooralbyn.

Well! The community boards are full of those! I asked Helen Ross for some of her photos, because we have had some nice online chats about pianos, and finally met at Doo Bop bar when Helen came to our show there.

I also told Larraine Sathicq we were coming to town, and she was on it. She’s a legend. So now we had a poster and a newspaper write-up. So good!

Larraine’s piece in The Beaudesert Times

Adrian and the team at the Men’s Shed said they would take care of us. I was so moved. They ran power cables out for us, fixed up an outdoor light, and put an old fridge out. (Adrian actually had to retrieve it from the Op Shop!) We could use their outdoor sink, campfire and tables, and toilet and shower facilities. Everything was done with such care, I saw even the cables for the outdoor light were taped down so neatly. I was quite lost for words. Except for thank you, thank you, thank you.

On Friday morning I walked Wookie over to the Men’s Shed and they were hosing down the showers. Amazing.

Roaring Lion drummer Bojan, his wife Caitlin and baby Aurora arrived before check-in, so they came to my home. The parents were keen for baby Aurora to bond with her first puppy friend. It was also Wookie’s first baby friend! So that was a thing.

Then the rest of the band started to turn up. Maui, Derrin and Ronan had a caravan, others booked in the resort. Later I went to pick up mail at the servo and saw Bojan and Caitlin taking Aurora to the playground. It was so weird – I ran into my band on a Kooralbyn street! What? 😂

Maui had 40 kgs of firewood, so that was sorted. Good thing they got the fire going, because Sam and his family, and Taria and Sisilia were trying to find us in the dark. The Men’s Shed driveway isn’t easy to see if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So the fire helped, plus I stood at the roadside, slowly waving my phone light at passing cars. I’m sure some locals were like: what the…

Saturday morning, after breakfast at Lilies, it was time to find the Wedding Shed. Vocalists Ale, Carlee and Evie didn’t stay Friday night as some of them had gigs. So they were rocking up now. There was easy access to the stage, which was great for unloading gear. Our bass guitarist Taria (aka T) had to be our sound engineer today, and sort out all that stuff about the PA system, fold backs, subwoofers, mics, power and speakers. Anyway, that kind of thing…

Lar (Larraine) came over and said that Aunty Ruby, the Elder for the Mununjali clan, would be attending. The Mununjali people are the traditional owners of the land on which Kooralbyn is built. We wondered if Aunty Ruby would consider doing a Welcome To Country before we started playing. Lar asked Aunty Ruby, and she said she was happy to.

Far out! What an honour.

As she spoke, Aunty Ruby turned our outdoor rehearsal into something more meaningful, explaining the cultural significance of the area, and the importance of giving back to the land. She had blessed us with her presence and all of us were humbled by it.

Mununjali Elder Aunty Ruby. Photo by Larraine Sathicq, with permission

Then we started, with four songs which we hadn’t played together before. T used that as a sound check to tackle all the technical issues before we launched into our first set.

A slim, white-haired man with smiling eyes came onto the stage and silently weaved between and behind us, wielding a serious-looking camera.

I hope this is that Filip guy that shares superb photos on the community boards, I thought. It was. The beautiful photos below are taken by Kooralbyn’s own Filip Krygsman.

I hoped he would just go for it and not hold back! When I told him that later, he said he had covered many bands, musicians and other creatives over the years:

There seems to be this unspoken trust to accept each other in their own roles to create the best we can. I love that aspect.

Photography by Filip Krygsman

I looked out from the stage and saw people on the lawns. Nicky Convine had her hands raised, dancing barefooted in the grass, to Get Up Stand Up.

The joy of it!

Later Lar said she was watching me watching them. She said people getting out and dancing in the sunshine is good for the soul, and we all need a bit of that.

On Facebook, Kooralbyn’s Tina Marie Day said she would be celebrating a big wedding anniversary that weekend and would be coming to see us. Wow! So I asked what her favourite Bob Marley song was and she said, Could You Be Loved.

Today, we were going to play that song at the very end, as an encore. I wanted to let her know that when we “finish” the set with One Love, it’s not really the end and her song is still coming!

I got the chance when we played Redemption Song. It’s an acoustic song with hardly any instruments, so I snuck off the stage and found Larraine.

“Hey Lar, who’s Tina Marie Day?”

“I know her. C’mon.”

I love Larraine! We found Tina Marie and I told her to hang on for her song! When we finally played it, Maui made sure Tina Marie was up and dancing with the rest. What a way to wrap up the afternoon ❤️

Afterwards, the crew packed up. Some had to head back to Brisbane, for other gigs that night or work on Sunday. Others went back to the campsite to prepare a big feast! The plan was to have an evening together to discuss band things going forward.

But I wanted to hang out a bit first ☺️. Plus I’m useless on a campsite. My girlfriend Donna had come from Helensvale, and we had a few beers with Fletch and Geoff at The Pav. I see Fletch in the early mornings when I walk Wookie and he’s doing some maintenance on the golf course, so it was so good to actually sit and chat.

I asked whether the Pav had been busy while we played, and they said it was!

You know what Jo, I saw people here that I hadn’t seen for about two years! That’s good for the community. There were loads of people going back and forth, from here to the stage and back. It was great.

Fletch, Kooralbyn resident

We had been hoping to see Helen Ross, and she had been held up, so we missed her. But we signed a poster for her, and I’ll keep it until I see her again. Wookie got plenty of fusses this weekend and made friends with some lovely kids.

I can now say that three weeks ago my son Miles was hit with an illness and in Mater Hospital for a week, and I wasn’t thinking about anything except him. Thankfully, he’s out and was even in Kooralbyn for our rehearsal. All day he was randomly embraced by people he had never met before, but who know me. It was funny.

But having him with me, standing tall and healthy, made everything even better, if that was possible.

So I remember all the love and support I received from friends, family and the band, at that time. And I am so happy that Kooralbyn is my home.

I think I am — finally — where I should be, doing the kinds of things I should do.

Now my band knows this beautiful place too. Maybe this could happen again, who knows?

Roaring Lion in Kooralbyn, August 2023

Thank you Derrin Hill for the band photo above, and Carlee M Williams for photos of the crowds in this post. ❤️

2 responses to “Roaring Lion in Kooralbyn; My Two Worlds Meet”

  1. This made me feel like I was there! My son is emigrating to Perth and when I visit him I’m hopping on a plane to see you! Xx

    1. Oh wow Karen. Can you imagine it? Yes stay with me ❤️

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About Joanna

Joanna is British Australian. She worked mainly in financial news in London. In her forties she moved to her parents’ birthplace, Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, where she became a pianist in a hotel and wrote a blog about musicians. The blog became a book before Joanna came to Australia in 2012. In this blog she writes mostly about music, gardening, and trips to Sabah. Oh, and Wookie the Havanese.

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