Country music mustering its own band of followers
ORIGINALLY designed to be a musical magnet to draw tourists flocking to Grafton's nationally acclaimed Jacaranda Festival, the first Clarence Valley Country Muster has become a massive drawcard in its own right.
The stage is set. The muster will open on a property a few kilometres north-west of Grafton on October 28 and swing through until November 3.
Organiser Wendy Gordon owns the property in the tiny and historic settlement of Calliope - a village that once hosted the surrounding district's first race meeting in 1872.
The horses have long gone, and the contemporary cattle have been ushered off the property as it prepares for an event never before seen in these parts.
For Wendy Gordon, it's an unexpected blockbuster.
"I've organised country music festivals before, but I honestly wasn't prepared for the response to a muster in my own backyard," Wendy says.
"I first expected a couple of hundred people to turn up, but it's now well over 500 - and rising. It has, quite simply, been overwhelming."
But events like this don't happen by accident. Wendy Gordon has worked her Akubra off promoting the muster to the rest of Australia. It has been a shotgun blast heard everywhere.
Nearby villages like Ulmarra, Brushgrove, Yamba, Maclean and the city of Grafton itself will prosper from the hospitality business the muster generates.
On stage will be headliners Ted Egan, Terry Gordon, the Kross Kutt Showband, Marge Graham and more than 20 other performers singing under the stars.
There'll be a giant marquee, a first-class stage, extensive lighting, portable toilets, camping sites for motor homes and separate areas set aside for the media, VIPs and site workers.