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Sunday, October 16, 2005

What the heck is a didgeridoo?

Hi this is TubaDad. I'm back from Australia and I think I'm almost back to normal. I was over there just long enough to adjust to the time, so now I don't quite know when it's really time to go to sleep. The flights over and back were an hour shorter than originally scheduled, so I was only on the plane for about 13 hours each way. Piece of cake! Since this was a business trip, most of my time was booked and there wasn't much time to sightsee. I was mostly in Sydney, with part of a day spent going to a meeting in Hornsby just north of Sydney. I had only a couple of evenings and an afternoon to poke around, so I didn't have time to do everything I wanted to do. I went to dinner one night at a really nice restaurant called Rockpool with our friend Craig, who is in Sydney at a culinary school. The celebrity chef who owns the restaurant was one table over from us entertaining some family or friends in a birthday celebration, so that was a real kick. I took the tour of the Sydney Opera House late on Thursday afternoon. The Opera House is the famous landmark behind me in the picture, and is quite a large and interesting complex. The combined theatres hold about 6,000 people! The tour guide took us to see inside all six of the performance spaces, and told us a lot about the architect and the history of the building. As anybody who knows me would expect, I went to hear the Sydney Symphony play a concert on Thursday night. The orchestra sounded fantastic, and I really enjoyed hearing them in this beautiful hall. The highlight of the trip was spending a good chunk of time at a didgeridoo store called Didj Beat selecting an instrument! I've wanted a didgeridoo for years, and I have been waiting for a chance to go to Australia to select an authentic aboriginal instrument. The didgeridoo, just in case you are curious, is arguably the oldest wood wind instrument in the world, and Australian Aboriginals have been using them for thousands of years. I selected a Stringybark didgeridoo from the Yirrkala Arnhem Land region of Australia, made by Jill Munungurr. It has really cool Aboriginal butterflies painted on it, and there is a picture of it just to the right. I am looking forward to learning to really play it. The techniques are somewhat similar to the tuba, so I have a pretty good head start. By the way, did you know they drive on the "wrong side of the road" in Sydney with right-hand drive cars just like in the UK? I had no idea! I was also surprised that only one person the entire time said g'day. Go figure! They typically just said good morning or cheers, and everyone was really friendly and helpful. I would highly recommend a visit to Sydney if the opportunity ever presents itself to you!