Over 900 people traipsed within an hour or so through the bush, all in single file. Some held hands, others held bundles of fold-up chairs or were jointly carrying eskies. They did this walk through native bush but followed a track. Here and there, there were areas roped off with a sign”re-generation taking place”. It seemed they all needed to arrive deep inside this bush-land at a certain time. The chairs and eskies indicated a stay of some length and the holding of hands had more to do with old age rather than romance. Indeed, some had hand-held guidance aided by a walking stick in the other hand as well.
The variety of fold-up chairs, eskies and shade hats, and umbrellas, plastic sheeting and large wine bags either indicated some sort of senior cult preparing for mystery bush dance meeting or a large communal final love-in. None looked as if sex was in the offering, nor likely as if they could break into a wild forest dance. It all looked rather sober and somewhat sedated. No shrieking or renting of the peaceful bush by coarse oaths.
None smoked, none were disorderly, and they just plodded on. They finally arrived at some clearance and it became clear what this was all about. People were checked for tickets and some that were without, put down the money and bought, not just tickets, also programs. The clearance in the bush, being somewhat remote had a sign Arboretum. They all seemed to know what to do and spread sheets, unfolded their chairs and put down wine bags and opened eskies. Some of the very old were gently lowered into some more comfortable camping chairs with arm rests and for extra softness, pillows.
I noticed on the left a number of blue coloured plastic constructions with “Loo-mobile” and large phone numbers displayed on the doors. There was already a small queue being formed. Most in the queue looked towards the sky or talked somewhat hushed as if the real purpose of it all had nothing to do with urgency of bowels and/ or bladders after a long and strenuous walk.
Right smack in the middle on some pallets was a grand piano. Has anyone ever seen a piano in the bush? Well, we did and not just a piano. Many people dressed in black but mainly young, arrived with a large variety of musical instruments. I also noticed a number of very sophisticated loud speakers on tri-pods in between the trees and a kind of machine with many sliding up- and down levers that I used to see at recording sessions, when for a short time I worked for a Swedish advertising agency, a hundred years ago.
Well, this was clearly a setting for an opera. Some women and men were clearing throats and voicing loud sounds, violin strings were tensioned, bows tightened and a short man with an apron was tuning the grand Steinway.
We had arrived at our destination of an opera at the Pearl Beach Arboretum. This was an extraordinary setting for a great afternoon. Music and champagne flowing and kookaburras listening.
What a week-end.