After two nights of sell out crowds at the Tourist Hotel in Oberon, me and the missus hi-tailed it to Taralaga, 98 kms south.
Two final points about Oberon, however, before we move on:
Cold Chisel’s Don Walker and Steve Prestwich wrote Flame Trees whilst on a weekend away in Oberon, (apparently they were fighting with Barnsey at the time). Furthermore, the video clip for the song is shot on location in Oberon, in the Tourist Hotel, the very same Hotel I opened my Rural-Bridge-Building-Emo-Folk-Country-City Tour ’08 at.
If you work for the federal police and have lost a serial killer, I suggest having a peak around the streets of Oberon… you may find him there…
We made it into Taralga by 4.30 that afternoon. Falling autumn leaves cascaded down from the tall trees that lined the streets, showering us like a ticker tape parade, celebrating our hefty climb out of the Abercrombie Valley.
We arrived bedraggled at our destination – the stately, sand-stone Taralga Hotel, built in 1876. The place was empty. I waddled inside, wearing my clickety-clack clip-in shoes, and my reasonably priced yet offensively bright red board shorts, like a disheveled new born duck that had rode into this world bareback on a camel. Unlike Oberon there were no crowds, no over-zealous fans, no one urging on the “One Man Band (and girlfriend)” in anticipation for the folk spectacle that was to unfold at their local.
After signing autographs on beer coasters for couple of confused but keen bar flies, we were told we could set up our tent in the back paddock, just like U2 had done the week before. The bartender offerd some parting words which I’m sure were meant to be reassuring but which in rality sounded more like an ominous omen: “Don’t worry about the Billy-Goat”.
Sure enough, lazing under the trees in the setting sun was a black Billy-Goat, who possessed a lazy eye and only three working legs. My voice deepened and my testicles tensed with glee at the prospect of taming a lame Billy-Goat before the tender eyes of my girlfriend, silhouetted by the setting alpine sun.
I opened the gate, and like a cocksure cowboy on Oxford St swung my swag over my shoulder and made for the far corner of the paddock where I anticipated setting up camp. The cross eyed Billy-Goat, however, had a different idea and like an angry bull in slow motion made for me across the paddock and when he finally got within a foot of me he attempted to butt me with his horns. I dodged the lethal blow with a nifty side-step. Palwesha, my cherub-like girlfriend, started laughing uncontrollably.
I too was set for a chuckle, but ‘Old Three Legs’ had another go at me, lifting itself on its back legs and throwing its angry cross-eyed head at me. Again, I got out of the way. This was not going to be so simple. He was at it again, striding at me in slow motion, launching at my head with two angry horns. I yelled, I bellowed, I hollered, I howled, but this belligerent three legged, cross-eyed menace just wouldn’t leave me alone. I tried explaining to the Billy-Goat the we came in peace, that we were but entertainers, artists, folk-singing simple folk. But that got him even more angry and he tried to eat our tent.
My patience vanished and up rose the wild man within. Finally the show down we had anticipated- man vs beast. I grabbed the tent bag which lay at his feet, lifted it above my head and with all my strength brought it down on the cold, hard earth before him, while, at the same time, letting out a mighty roar “RAAAAAAAAAH!” Old Three Legs responded with another attempt at head-butting me. Again I lifted the tent and brought it down at his feet with yet another blood curdling roar and once more he went to head butt me. This game continued for ten long minutes.
Then suddenly, after I had slapped the tent against the earth for the umpteenth time, Old Three Legs shrugged, turned away and walked over to the other side of the paddock to rest; it was as if nothing had happened. I was left confused, short of breath, red faced and convinced of my victory in the battle of man vs beast.
The crowd within the Taralga hotel was restless. They looked at me and the missus with suspicion, unsure if introspective folk rock was really what they were after that night. To loosen then up and get them ready for the show I unleashed a new and topical poem I had written only hours prior to the show…. it goes like this…
TARALGA by CjShaw
Taralga might be mighty cold
But the people in the houses hold
The heat in with a toasty fire,
So winter winds don’t blow so dire
The pub in town, that shares its name,
Is pleasant stone and wooden frame
That stands tall guard on the road that runs,
South-west into Goulburn
The pub withstood the toughest years,
All from eighteen-seventy-six
To serve the local’s frothy beers
And help ’em get their kicks
But something strong and something stern
Allowed the pub to stand so firm
Their secret was their jet black ghost,
Their fearsome three legged Billy-Goat
While wild winds blow through Oberon
And summer bakes the roofs of Goulburn
Their guardian angel with one lame leg
Serves the pub and does protect
So toast the ghost with the jet black coat
Taralga’s fearsome (three legged, cross eyed) Billy Goat!
Well the locals loved it. I played for two hours, got them dancing and singing. And, like Oberon there was a local fella with a massive red beard who brought me beers and encouraged me to keep on playing
‘Keep on playing those bloody songs” He would yell.
My girlfriend and I returned to our tent. With a grin we stumbled through the pitch black paddock to our tent. Old Three Legs was perched under a tree snoring. Once inside the sleeping bags we fell into a deep sleep.
Hours later I felt rain fall on my face as skies above us opened. Seems there was a leak in the tent, a leak that had not been there that afternoon. Upon closer inspection it looked like something hungry (or cranky) had eaten through out tent while we were in the pub. Looks like I lost the battle after all.