A free day in Melbourne on Friday March 19th allowed choristers the opportunity to venture into the city and enjoy the many sights and sounds surrounding them. Choristers walked the busy seats, gazing on the Arts Centre, Herald Newspaper Office, Flinder’s Street and over the Yarra River to visit Bourne and Swanson Streets. At 4.45pm they departed Southbank for the 90 mile journey to Geelong, arriving at the Ford Theatre on Little Malop Street at 6.30pm. It was a very impressive theatre and the audience gave them a tremendously warm welcome as they marched, single file onto the large stage and the concert began. The audience seemed overjoyed, with rapturous applause and plenty of laughter. Following the concert many choristers headed back to the hotel where it was time for a very quick change into casual clothes and a taxi ride to the nearby Crown Casino. Another free day in Melbourne before departing the hotel at 5.45pm for the Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University in Clayton, 30 miles away. An audience of 735 were there to greet the Choir and from the very outset were appreciative of another memorable performance.
A performance at the Melbourne Concert Hall in the river-side Arts Centre complex was always going to be one of the major concerts of the entire tour. On the one hand it was the first time the choir had actually performed in this particular auditorium since their 1986 tour. Secondly, it was an important event because the audience would consist of the hierachy of ICA, including Lester McGrath and Andrew Kay. It’s hard to describe the performance, except in superlatives, but suffice to say the Choir was spellbinding throughout. The audience of 1,168, were splendid in their response, the overall effect breathtaking. From the very first note it was obvious the choir, awesome in its performance, was at its very best. It was the performance of "We’ll Keep a Welcome", so far from the shores of their homeland - particularly on Mothering Sunday - that affected choristers the most.
The Choir gathered in an Irish bar called O’Briens, overlooking the Yarra for the evening party. The Guinness and Kilkenny flowed like torrents over the thirsty choristers as the party-atmosphere prevailed. A section of the bar had been specially divided exclusively for the Choir, while the next section was reserved for none other than Lisa Marie Presley, her mother Priscilla and their entourage of bodyguards, musicians and guests.
The Choir decided they had to entertain the rock ‘n’ roll royalty. "Muss I Denn", the German version of "Wooden Heart" from Elvis’s "G.I. Blues", seemed appropriate. Follow that with "Love is a Many Splendoured Thing", and suddenly Lisa Marie was standing on the chair waving, clapping and even conducting!
A free day in Melbourne saw many choristers visit the mighty Rialto Tower, the 16th highest free-standing tower in the world - a full 823ft high. Some realised this was hardly a good idea given the hangovers caused by the night before! At 6am on Tuesday March 23rd the Choir was transported to Melbourne Airport to board the 10am Qantas flight QF612 - headed for Brisbane 860 miles away. A few hours later the group was transported 60 miles north to Caloundra. Another destination, another state. This time - Queensland.
This beautiful area was home to the plush Rydges Oasis Resort, the accommodation for the night, which included a lovely restaurant overlooking extensive lily-ponds, swimming pools, golf courses and the beach. It was quite a distance to walk from the resort to the theatre in the centre of Caloundra, so many of opted for a taxi ride instead. It was a good move, since the heavens opened and heavy rain drenched many of the suit-wearing choristers en route. The concert hall at Caloundra Cultural Centre was large and impressive. The concert was a total success. The audience of 882 were very appreciative and a resounding standing ovation brought the performance to its finale.