Deciding whether to busk in Australia was a big deal for us. It was all the way around the other side of the world and we were a little worried about what would happen if something went wrong over there. Before we left we made sure we had enough money saved in case something bad did happen and then started to plan our six month adventure down under.
We woke up at 5am, the time when all good adventures start, at Manchester Airport to board our flight to Adelaide, Australia. With quite a bit of worry, we had handed over our tightly packed guitars, after wrapping clothes around them, in order to try and prevent any damage during the flight. Tom had purchased a Gator case for the purpose of flying with guitars but my Ritter bag was equally as good at protecting the instruments and they both arrived safely in one piece.
We did our usual in the airport of getting free perfume samples to make the most of smelling good before the travelling began and killed an hour of so looking at things we could never afford to buy. The flight stopped in Singapore, in the amazing Changi airport, before flying for 3 hours over the bright red bedrock of Australia and into the heat of January in Adelaide.
Accidentally booking a hostel in Port Adelaide rather than the city centre, we got our first taste of other Australian hostel dwellers, who turn on the lights at 1am to watch the Little Mermaid on full volume, but the free pancakes, cereal, sausage and beans breakfast made up for it.
Tom played some original tunes on Radio Adelaide on the first day, the first of three radio appearances, before we scouted out potential busking spots on Rundle Mall, the main street. Busking here requires a licence from the council ($24 a month) and once we had it we tried a few acoustic songs to cover the train fare in.
One of the decisions we had to make in Australia was what amp to buy because we had not brought one with us. We had an aim to tell it at the end of the trip and Tom (not so) secretly wanted to buy a AER Compact Mobile, so we went to the music shop to look longingly at them for a while… We bought one the next day. Now the only challenge was making enough to get the money back from it. A quick session that day showed how awesome it sounded.
We played in the Red Lime Shack in Port Adelaide, in a Vegan cafe with a relaxed atmosphere but soon moved into the city centre to avoid having to keep getting the train in. We were staying just on the edge of Rundle Mall so our busking commute was very short. We met all of the other buskers gradually over the month and eventually managed to become sort of part of the busking community there, to the point when we were saving spots for each other.
Tom helped our a girl guitar busker who was having issues with the settings on her new amp and we met other buskers, including the Adelaide Piano Busker, Lemorai, who played the didgeredoo and the violin and two kid buskers who performed a 20 minute routine of acrobatics and were escape artists. There are many buskers in Adelaide and with the Fringe coming up there were more emerging over the weeks.
The toastie seller on Rundle Mall also liked our tunes and occasionally gave us free sweet chilli and cheese toasties whenever we played nearby. After having a look also around the Adelaide Central Markets and ended up managing to secure a busking pitch for our first indoor market busking experience and made a welcome change from Rundle Mall.
In Adelaide we met a couple who lived here but who we had met previously in Bruges, Belgium. They came to our gig just south of Adelaide, gave us a free mic stand and even took us out for the day to a wildlife park and Australian markets for a proper Aussie experience! We attempted to busk the markets, which went all right, before buying a dress from a hippy lady who lived and sold her merch out of a painted VW camper.
Leaving the option open to flee the hostel we were in, we only booked a few days in advance each time, which meant we kept on switching rooms. The hostel rooms varied in quality, where every new room was no bigger than the old but twice as hilarious.
In Adelaide we also discovered how cheap Australian Dominos pizza is ($4.95 = £2.50!), along with the delights of Tim Tams. The city is also home to the Pancake Kitchen, the only place where you can buy pancakes at 2am and we first sampled the delights of Goon, fortified cheap as Australian wine, that had a deadly effect and resulted in us having a small cry in the middle of Rundle Mall, for inexplicable reasons. Goon, man.
To recover we visited the huge Adelaide Botanical gardens where I received some singing lessons in harmonies. On another day off, we hired free bikes in Adelaide and cycled, following the river from the city to the sea, before cooling off in the ocean and heading back. Once back, we tried out an evening busk which was fairly similar to our day busks but the streets were overrun with religious preachers rather than other musicians so we decided to stick to the day.
We celebrated Australia Day in Adelaide but the final highlight of the city was seeing Eddie Izzard live, who himself used to busk in Covent Gardens in London.
“Remember me … As a salad” – (Julius Caesar)
“What did he say?” – (Roman Guard)
“No, as he was dying, I definitely think he said, ‘Remember me, and then he said… as a salad…'” – (Other Guard)
We took a trip to the beach at Glenelg on someone’s reccomendation and took an acoustic guitar just for fun to try a busking session. As our expectations were nothing, we exceed them but we also never returned to Glenelg for a busk again. Only for swimming.
In the hostel we were woken at 5.30am by *activities* and snoring once those *activities* were complete, which led us to getting up at 6.30am to collect our bus tickets out to Victoria as sleep wasn’t an option.
After leaving South Australia we set off on an 10 hour bus journey bound for Ararat in Victoria.