Charmed by the Irish at Maleny Hideaway

Maleny HidewayLISTENING to music reminiscent of the Irish dance party from the 1997 epic film Titanic was an unexpected bonus during our short stay at the Maleny Hideaway.

When booking the accommodation online, I couldn’t have imagined we’d be sharing the B & B guesthouse with Irish citizens from Dublin and Belfast who had flown half way around the world to attend a wedding, timed to fit neatly between two British & Irish Lions rugby tests in Australia.

Succumbing to the Wallabies in the second test failed to dampen the spirits of the Irish group, who partied into the wee hours of the morning.

Earlier in the night, we were kindly invited to join them for dinner. The conversations were many and included the sharing of information about local hair, beauty and transport services that we will need when we visit again for a wedding in September.

The group also generously invited us to join their after-dinner party but we didn’t want to intrude on their family celebration and politely retired to our room.

I was tempted to join them later, however, when renditions of Oh Danny Boy, Don McLean’s American Pie and many other favourite songs could be heard in the distance as I drifted to and from the land of nod.

Cobe, Ireland.

Irish turn out in the thousands to welcome the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April 2012.

Their wonderful music reminded me of my own  Irish ancestry, the Lowry family from Ballybogey near Belfast in Northern Ireland. A fond memory from the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April 2012 also entered my thoughts.

The first stop after leaving Southampton was the Irish town of Cobe (pronounced Cove and known in 1910 as Queenstown). Almost the entire county turned out to welcome our cruise ship, Balmoral. We felt as though we were celebrities with thousands of people waving and cheering as the ship docked.

Because rough weather had delayed our arrival, a previously arranged tour was cancelled. Instead, we enjoyed an impromptu evening, singing and dancing in Kelly’s Bar with the locals. That evening became a significant highlight of the entire trip.

Returning to the present, I drifted off for a relaxing night’s slumber.

In the morning, B & B owners Kerrie and Grant greeted everyone with a generous country-style breakfast, over which we again enjoyed the company of our new Irish friends.

We enjoyed our stay at Maleny Hideaway so much that a return visit is planned for our son’s wedding in September. With any luck we might get to meet more Irish visitors.

The Maleny Hideaway country bed and breakfast retreat is located just outside Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and set in 20 acres of the beautiful Blackall Range.

For more details, click on Maleny Hideaway.

– Story and photos by JOCELYN WATTS.

Maleny Hideway

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Parade puts spotlight on protecting Oceania

Hervey Bay Whale Festival Illumination Parade

Hervey Bay Whale Festival Illumination Parade. Photos: JOCELYN WATTS

PROTECTING Oceania is the theme of this year’s Illumination Parade, a highlight of the annual Hervey Bay Whale Festival, and entries are still open.

“Protecting our oceans is important for all marine life that calls the Bay home,” Fraser Coast Councillor Darren Everard said.

“We hope to spread educational messages and inspire people to practice positive daily habits to ensure the protection of our oceans and in particular our local waterways.

“We want the floats to reflect this. We want floats of all shapes and sizes and most importantly, we want them to light up the Esplanade.

“As long as you are illuminated and work to the theme of Protecting Oceania, you can dance, walk, skip, cycle, trumpet, juggle or cheer your way along the Esplanade as part of the parade on Saturday, August 17.

“There is great prize money up for grabs, including $600 for the most eco-friendly entry, as well as for community groups and schools, so it’s time to get creative.”

For those entering the eco-float competition, remember at least 50% or more of your float must be made from recycled/reused product. As a parade participant and responsible citizen of the Fraser Coast Region, we hope you will consider helping us to make the celebrations eco-friendly and consider the ecological footprint of your float in terms of energy, materials and waste generated.

Nominations close on Sunday, July 21.

Entry Forms and additional information about participation can be found on the website

For more information call Event Coordinator Vanida Petts on 1300 79 49 29 or email or follow the festival on


Magical sound of music in Maryborough

John Foreman from Australian Idol and John Foreman’s new music show The Big Night In poses for photos with music teachers at the last conference in 2011. Photo: JOCELYN WATTS

John Foreman from The Big Night In and previously Australian Idol poses for photos with visiting music teachers at the 2011 Maryborough Music Conference. Photo: JOCELYN WATTS

MARYBOROUGH will come alive with the sound of music this week (July 4-8), featuring some of the best local, national and international performers.

Musical maestro John Foreman and Darren Percival from “The Voice” are among the performers at these not-to-be-missed musical events, which are part of the celebrations being held under the umbrella of the Mary Poppins Festival and Maryborough Music Conference.

‘Pop-Up Music Gigs’ will be staged on Friday evening, July 5 at cafes, hotels and restaurants around the city, including Muddy Waters Cafe, Allikats on Kent, Federal Hotel, Cafe Cru and the Shamrock Hotel.

On Sunday, July 7, a free Musical Showcase at the Brolga Theatre will feature performances by five outstanding choirs and bands, each with a Mary Poppins musical theme.

The artistic director of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Dr Charlie Beale, will conduct an 80 piece show choir.

The Pickett Symphonic Winds, led by the musical director of the Queensland Pops Orchestra and special guest conductor Tim Lautzenheiser from the US, will play a Mary Poppins selection as well as the music of the Beatles and other favourites.032_mb music conference 2011

Melbourne trumpeter Greg Spence, who has appeared on many of Australia’s top rating television shows, such as “Dancing with the Stars” and John Foreman’s new music show “The Big Night In”, will lead a big band performance, including legendary drummer John Morrison.

Another highlight will be North Coast Region Excellence Program’s big band and strings orchestra, featuring the region’s best instrumental music students.

A Gala Concert at the Brolga Theatre on the evening of July 7 will feature several international music identities including Darren Percival, the 2012 runner up of “The Voice”.

The Hultgren Symphonic Winds will be conducted by Australian composer Ralph Hultgren and special guest conductor Dr Peter Boonshaft from the United States. .

British clarinet virtuoso Julian Bliss will perform ‘Solo de Concours” while orchestral director at Hyde Park Middle School Las Vegas Jeremy Woolstenhulme will conduct a 60-piece string orchestra performing his compositions.

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For those who love traditional choral music, conductor Harley Mead will lead an 80 piece choral ensemble. Mead has conducted at a number of notable large-scale events such as Queensland Music Festival and Brisbane Riverfest.

The concert will finish on a high note, with a big band performance led by the acclaimed Pete BarenBregge. BarenBregge is the former musical director of the USAF Airmen of Note, recognised as one of finest big bands in the world.

Drummer David Jones, recognised by his peers as the best drummer Australia has ever produced, will also perform. The gala concert is a ticketed event, with tickets available from the Brolga Box Office.

The Maryborough Music Conference, from July 4 to 8, is considered Australia’s premier music educators’ conference.

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Maryborough Music Conference 2011. Photos: JOCELYN WATTS