Waltz for Wairewa / Saturday 20 October / 7.30pm

Waltz for Wairewa

A performance created from “Stories from Wairewa” conveying details of everyday life in a small, isolated rural community in its early days in the 1900s. The sources of material are the spoken word from residents in the valley, un-published family documents, and a limited use of the Public Records Of Victoria (PROV).

Included in the publication is “Waltz for Wairewa” a dialogue with music, which acknowledges the prior indigenous occupation of this land, and touches briefly on the early white explorers. The research for “Waltz for Wairewa” (published text) was more casual, from secondary sources.

Stories of Wairewa by Elizabeth Blakeman cover

Stories from Wairewa is about community, belonging to it and fostering it. The author, Elizabeth Blakeman, has lived there long enough to get to know the people in it and to feel that she belongs there. It interested her that several families have been there for several generations. They were the bearers of its history …….they can remember how their fathers and grandfathers lived and the stories they told, and they can remember their own childhoods, which meant there was an, as yet, unrecorded history stretching back around 120 years.

Elizabeth likes writing. She likes conversation.  She had done a short course in writing poetry. She also likes music and had done 2 minor courses in music composition. It seemed to her that there was material for a book, for poetry and for music, so she decided to see if the residents in the valley were interested in sharing their memories.

It was a sheer gamble. But if nothing is ventured, nothing is gained.  You are invited to the resulting performance.

As Shakespeare said  ”There is a tide in the affairs of men,

                                         Which taken at the full, leads on to fortune.

                                         Omitted all the voyage of their life

                                         Is bound in shallows and in misery”

It fostered the sense community by bringing people together round a shared interest.

You are invited to the resulting performance by composers, singers, narrators and musicians. 

Uncle Herb Patten

Uncle Herb Patten

It takes many years of practice to play the leaf well, and Herb first learned to play as a small boy after watching his great uncle Lindsay Thomas blowing leaves in the bush at Newmerella, via Orbost, Victoria. Lindsay had been a member of the Lake Tyers Gumleaf Band. Herb, an artist and a practical promoter of reconciliation, was influenced by the gumleaf band at Lake Tyers.

Herb lived in Narooma from time to time and drew on the cultural tradition of the Wallaga Lake gumleaf band, which operated for up to eight decades from the beginning of the 20th century.   Herb especially loved the sound of the white-bellied sea eagle and he produces many birdcalls of the Narooma district on his leaf …

He published “How to Play the Gumleaf” in 1999 with Currency Press after collaborating with musicologists at Monash University, Victoria, and was runner-up in the Seven Network’s inaugural “Australia’s Got Talent” reality series in 2007  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6kq003


Herb’s multi-media exploration of gumleaf music garnered him a Master of Arts degree through the Koori Cohort, School of Education at RMIT University Melbourne in 2007.

Come and enjoy the nationally acclaimed skills and stories of this local legend.

August 27, 2018
Stories of influence