Monday, January 23, 2017

High Country Blues Reunion

We packed a lot into our weekend at Thredbo: three days of happy times with friends; walking in perfect Summer high country conditions; hearty food and great German beer (and our own G & T afternoons) and brilliant Blues music courtesy of the annual Thredbo Blues Festival.

Irene got us organised early on Saturday morning for what turned out to be a new (for us) and not too challenging walk from Dead Horse Gap, south of the village along the Thredbo river, through the frost valley, up Bob's Ridge and along the Cascades fire trail until we were hungry enough to stop for an early picnic lunch beside Cascade Creek.

We didn't make it all the way to Cascade Hut as we wanted to keep this a half day walk - but loved what we saw of this part of the 20klm Cascade Walk.

Devastating fires ripped through the National Park (in fact most of this part of NSW and the ACT) in January 2003. The stands of dead eucalypts from these fires give the park quite an ethereal quality when viewed from a distance - even though the forests now have lots of regrowth.

We recovered from our morning's walk on the first of many trips up our fave Thredbo chairlift to Eagles Nest Restaurant (and Bullwheel Bistro), Australia's highest restaurant at 1937m.

There were 12 in our group this year, including James, Fiona and Will who made the drive up from Melbourne to be with us this weekend.

We took it in turns to host drinks each evening before setting out for an evening of wonderful Blues music in the various festival venues throughout the village. Fiona and Judy excelled themselves on Saturday night creating a Mexican themed spread for our "nibbles'' with drinks.

After two late nights and great concerts by Jeff Lang and Phil Manning we took it easy on Sunday morning: another ride up the mountain for a morning coffee at Eagles Nest.....
 ...enjoying the laid back morning Blues program in the Village Square (the Groove Kings are a very polished outfit!)
 .... before settling in for a long lunch at the Black Bear Inn and a wonderful performance by the CJ Raggatt Band - my favourite of the festival.

These guys are performing at the Memphis Blues Challenge (in Memphis!!) in a bit over a week. I would love to catch one of their gigs in Sydney (they are all Avalon Beach (old) boys!).

Sunday afternoon and evening is when the festival really hits its stride with the performers warmed up and the festival crowd at its most appreciative. We enjoyed  Ray Beadle poolside, the Kate Lush Band at the House of Ullr, a blast of the Foreday Riders in the Keller Bar, a taste of (too noisy) Kevin Borich, and too short a view of the Owen Campbell Band before finally calling it quits for the Thredbo Blues Festival for 2017.

The music and the mountains are wonderful attractions but it's the happy times with friends each year in Thredbo that make it the best of all.

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