My short story ‘At the Festival’ was first published in Quadrant May 2016. It was inspired by my yearly visits to the Canberra National Folk Festival. The music is really world music rather than folk. A happening event. 60,000 people. Lots of colour and movement for a writer who likes to get ideas from the world around them – though this is a work of fiction.
It was six o’clock in the evening when she finally passed the wind turbines. There, at last, stood Lake George, where long-woolled sheep grazed the field and to the west the Brindabella mountain range was coloured grey and pink by the setting sun. On she drove along an ink-black strip of road where, on either side, tall green-grey eucalypts had formed a welcoming archway. The way flattened out then curved into a narrow empty road. Not one person did she see, not one building, just a handful of brown-bellied cows and later a group of kangaroos standing formidable and still in the headlights. The turn for Watson wasn’t clearly sign-posted but she felt confident in turning east along the row of liquid ambers in autumn bloom that took her to the cabins.
Twice on the journey she had pulled into a service station and shut her eyes and briefly rested but now, as she neared Canberra, she felt wide awake and full of energy. Even the dark length of road which progressed flatly to Reception seemed to hold the promise of a new beginning. She sensed the towering, protective presence of the mountain range, the forested hills and, further on, just past the turnoff, the clear, pleasant thump of music coming from the festival.
The receptionist gave her a key, and eagerly she drove further on to cabin number five. Inside, the room was renovated: the two single beds replaced by a double. The same compact kitchenette set into one end of the room but a new television secured to the wall by a multidirectional wall bracket. In between, on the bare linoleum floor, stood a small table laminated with melamine and two matching chairs. She set her keys and mobile on the table and reached for the electric jug for tea. Continue reading