Monday 19th April, 2021

Connect Well funded The Red Hot Bush Dance and Community BBQ in Wairewa, on New Year’s Day 2021.

Due to COVID regulations the event was held outdoors in order to accommodate the possible 100 people who were expected to participate; as it happened, 102 actually signed in!

Holding the event outdoors involved obtaining extra funding for a marquee and dance floor via the East Gippsland Shire (Commonwealth and State sources). Funding from Windemere was also acquired for a stage and lighting, and a jumping castle was funded by the Red Cross.

Holding a COVID-safe event is no simple task but we followed all the requirements and event was safe and a great success for those who attended.

The marquee was white and its walls were folded back like curtains. It looked splendid. Green and red tablecloths were used in the hall and both the marquee and the hall were decorated with lots of gumtree branches, creating a great atmosphere conducive to bush dancing. Guests were even greeted upon arrival, by a mannequin dressed as a swaggie!

The hamburgers and sausages were sourced from Morrison’s butchery in Lakes Entrance, delicious salads came from Mingling Waters in Nowa Nowa, and a wonderful fruit salad was supplied by the supermarket in Orbost – Of course, individual plates were dished out and served by staff, to adhere to COVID regulations.

Blaze Aid volunteers and members of the Baptist Church were among the invited guests. Unfortunately, the members of the Westbury Fire Brigade who were also invited were unable to attend. Ian Trevaskis as President of the Rural and Community Arts Box Inc association made a great speech thanking the partners, individuals, organisations and groups who had helped the community throughout the year.

The dance itself was reportedly among the best ever held! The venue was pretty and uplifting; the lighting effective (both marquee lights and tennis court flood lights); and the caller from Mudgee excellent! The dancers were willing from the word go! The stage worked well. Five members of the band were able to fit on it – with the flute and lager phone at ground level on either side.

Brian Blakeman recited The Man From Snowy River and then, by request, Mulga Bill’s Bicycle during a break, which was responded to with warm applause. Brian sadly announced that this was to be his last public recitation. The evening finished with “Amazing Grace”- an excellent song because everyone knows it, religious or not, and can sing along, in parts! (Better than “Advance Australia Fair”!). The members of the Hospital Creek Bush Band said it was very nice after 12 years of playing the music gratis, to be paid for their efforts!

More people from Wairewa itself attended this New Year Day’s event than ever before; in part because of the BBQ, and in part because the mood was right. It had been a long hard year with the fire and the pandemic, so everyone was very pleased to be able to get together again.