It was another 6am start today although this morning was different in as much as it was raining heavily. Mike Calland and I had the dubious honour of being first to breakfast, until we were interrupted by the next arrivals, Steve Hanover and Nigel Hills.
With the coach expertly packed by todays loading party everybody took their seat and we left Newcastle and headed to Sydney. The bus settles down to a gentle hum of conversation with the occasional outburst of laughter, but at this time of the day the atmosphere is one of a gentleman’s club. People are reading, listening to music or sleeping despite not long being out of bed.
Michael our bus driver kindly offered to take us into his home city of Sydney, a worthwhile detour on our way to Wollongong, which gave us the opportunity to visit several iconic viewpoints.
Certain cities engender an excitement as you enter them, Sydney was no exception. The excitement could be felt as we first caught a glimpse of its famous landmarks. Michael took us to Mrs Macquarie’s point, which enabled us to take some super photos of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
We arrived at Wollongong mid-afternoon and were taken to Links Seaside Home where we were told to relax for an hour or so.
A splendid welcome tea was provided by the corps, after which it was somewhat of a rush to prepare ourselves for the start of the festival. Often at this point of a tour the energy levels can dip but the excitement that was evident in the capacity audience energised the band. The bands performance was exciting and all soloists excelled themselves. Executive Officer Major Mark Herbert continued using the Gospel of Mark, reminding us of Jesus’ word on the Sea of Galilee, “Why are you afraid?”. He related the story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee to the storms of life we may encounter. The final piece of the evening was Fire in the Blood and as always it continues to provide the most exciting and inspirational end which was acknowledged by a spontaneous standing ovation.
Following intelligence received, we have put extra security around our stock of ISB pin badges as we have heard that the local band the ILLAWARA SENIORS BAND have shown considerable interest in them, I can’t think why!
A tour such as this often has long periods of travel and so the need for occasional stops enables us to see a little of Australia. It may give the wrong impression to those following our progress that we are enjoying ourselves a little too much, although I don’t know of a professional musical group that would undertake this schedule. Each day the band fulfils its mission of bringing the message of hope and salvation to those we meet. One particular person I met after one of our concerts was so moved by the words associated with the Geoffrey Nobes composition of Lavenham, that he asked if he could get a copy to forward to some friends. So we have faith to believe that in each festival we can bring some encouragement or comfort to the listeners.
Written by Staff Bandsman Martyn Bryant