KIMBERLEY TIME – ISSUE 86

“G’day You Mob!”

It’s probably the most common greeting bandied about up in the Kimberley, often to the consternation and confusion of people from southern parts. You see the dubious look cross their faces … “What did he just call me?” If you take the literal meaning, ala the Oxford Dictionary, it’s a large crowd of people, especially a disorderly one intent on causing trouble.

But up here, where the Boab trees co-mingle with huge flocks of Brolgas and Wallabies, as the sun rises over the majestic red ochre ranges, it means a lot more than that. It’s the extended family, the community – a positive statement intended to embrace and include, welcoming both friends and strangers to come together and relax.

And if you think about that for a moment or two, it rather neatly ties together the bond between the audience and the musician at a live show.

Music wise up here in the North West, we’ve just had the gloriously unique Stars On The Bastion Festival take place in Wyndham. This year the festival was headlined by The Pigram Brothers, the sound of the saltwater country of Broome. With the one and only Mary G as the MC for the evening, (think of the Kimberley’s version of Priscilla and you won’t be too far wrong!) and with local country rockers Rodeworx, Corey Colum and John Albert, this year’s event was a roaring success. One of the most incredible locations you could ever hope to stage an event – it takes place 800 feet up above the town of Wyndham, overlooking the Cambridge Gulf. And this year the audience was treated to not only some of the best country music the Kimberley has to offer, but also one of the most spectacular sunsets of the year! Its one of our flagship events up here, and one well worth putting on your bucket list – that’s if you can get a ticket as it sells out rather quickly, being capped at only 350 attendees.

An event intrinsically linked to country music is the Kununurra Rodeo. It’s always a great chance to watch the station mob do their best to tame the wild beast – and then to kick up their heels and let the dust fly as they dance the rest of the night away. We hold two rodeos up here, one in May, and another in August, and they’re great nights out to be had in this part of the world.  The most recent had Jindabyne legend Brad Cox up here to perform, and with songs like ‘Too Drunk To Drive’ and ‘Towels’ up his sleeve and a killer voice, the dance floor was heaving with happy punters well lubricated on rum, beer and darn fine country music.

As it is now Dry Season, the Kimberley is crowded with the Mob escaping a frigid winter down south. Our night time temperatures hover around the 20 degree mark, the days are glorious with nary a cloud in the sky, and the stars after dark put on a show to rival the spectacle of fireworks displays. Kununurra swells from its usual population of 6,500 to about 12,000, which makes it difficult for us locals to find a park at our one and only shopping centre! Sure, we grumble at some “interesting” driving decisions made by the ‘big-lap’ brigade, or shake our heads in wonder at questions we get asked (My personal favourite, overheard asked of a rather bemused receptionist at El Questro – “How long does the 2 hour horse ride go for?”). But as a whole, we Kimberley folk are the most warm and welcoming people you’ll come across anywhere, and the standard feedback you hear from people visiting is how friendly the locals are.

It’s not an act, or a put-on – we actually are a pretty welcoming bunch of misfits, miscreants and scoundrels who just happen to live in one amazing part of the world.

To us, being part of the Mob means you’re part of the family. And that’s exactly what we mean when we use the term. You might only be passing through for a brief amount of time, or maybe just moved to town with the family in tow, or up visiting mates, but you’re immediately adopted as one of us. If you’ve taken the time to come and explore one of the most remote places in the world, and also one of the more difficult places to actually get to in Australia, we appreciate the effort it takes, and don’t hesitate to show it!

It’s the line I use to open every show I play – “G’day You Mob!!” With that one statement, all of a sudden, a group of people who might be complete strangers to each another are united as a connected group. I’m in, you’re in, we’re all in together, and we’re about to head off on a journey to a destination as one “mob”.

Our country’s finest artists understand intrinsically that without connection, without that unity, without the Mob, there’s nothing. I won’t forget Troy Cassar-Daley at the Kimberley Moon Experience last year, playing to audience of about 4000 yet making it seem like we were all around a camp fire together swapping yarns. I remember watching in awe as Sara and Greg Storer played atop the Five Rivers Lookout in Wyndham and immediately feeling like I was a part of the family too. Harry Hookey, performing at the Swinging Arm Bar at El Questro and being drawn into his world of stories, tall and true, and I remember seeing the joy on an unruly mob of ringers, rouseabouts, wranglers, jackaroos, jillaroos and station crew when I played with Lee Kernaghan at the Iron Clad Hotel in Marble Bar, with everyone joined together in voice and singing along as one entity. I remember.

We are united by a love of the truth and honesty that is quite often only found in the music that we love, and blast the distance that might lie between us. To slightly change the words to a rather famous tune that Dobe Newton from the Bushwhackers helped create, “I am, You are, We are…..The Mob!!”

So when you make it up to the Kimberley, and you’re addressed for the first time with an enthusiastic “G’day you Mob!!!’ by a local tour guide, musician, shop keeper or friend, don’t be worried or put out. Simply, it means we’re welcoming you to this part of the country and you are now a part of our huge extended family. It’s exactly the same thing as when our best artists join a huge crowd of strangers into one living, breathing entity, singing and dancing together as one. It might be a uniquely Top End catch cry, but it encompasses all, no matter which part of the country or the world you might be from. So, you Mob…..see you up here in the North West of Oz and welcome to the Family!