Updated: Aug 26, 2022
For those who don't know, "A Piano of Tasmania" is a project started by Kelvin Smith in 2020 to bring music to people in lockdowns in different places and to showcase a bit of Tasmanian scenery. He's been transporting his piano to all sorts of weird and wonderful places to play, and I've been making short videos of the pieces he's played to share with people around the world through the power of social media.
The latest adventure was the most challenging yet, not helped by a rather unfortunate mishap on the way.
We were invited to play at a unique Airbnb accommodation called "The Keep", a property situated on a remote hilltop in north-east Tasmania with nothing but tree-covered hills for miles around. The Keep - Luxury Accommodation Tasmania (thekeeptasmania.com.au) It's about 45 minutes drive from St Helens, and, as it turned out, along some pretty rough unsealed roads, which were a tad scary at night driving on my own ! However, I was given detailed and very good directions and though it entailed a few stops, I managed not to get lost.
It was a long, but scenic drive up the East Coast towards St Helens, on a magnificent Monday afternoon. The light was glorious at it neared dusk and I wish I had had time to stop at some of the scenic points along the way that overlooked white sandy beaches or pretty coastal hamlets. However, I didn't want to be driving along unsealed country roads in the dark, so I kept going until St Helens, where, after 3 hours driving I needed a break and a bit of time to soak up the beautiful sunset and twilight colours.
By the time I headed off from St Helen's it was getting dark and I was soon onto some dusty, unsealed roads in the dark. To make things more eerie, as I drove on the tree branches leaned over the road to seemingly form a tunnel around me as I drove along a very quiet and increasingly narrow route.
It was very slow going and the last bit of road was particularly narrow and rough, with some big potholes full of water that splashed up as a drove through them. I eventually reached the boom gate entrance to the property, though my directions said there was another 4.5km to go to get to The Keep. There were some rather involved instructions to open and close the gate, but I felt I'd got through the worst and there wasn't any time pressure now. I left my car lights on high beam as I tried to read the instructions in the rain and work it all out. Once I did though, the worst happened...my car refused to start. I got it inside the gate, but it was facing up hill, I couldn't see a thing and there was no phone signal....so my only choice was to grab my bags and walk.
But 4.5 km seemed doable, and not too bad,,,and after a long drive I needed to stretch my legs. Think positive, right ? What I didn't account for is that 4.5km is a long way when the road is a steep climb upwards, and you're carrying a pair of bags. It was dark, raining a bit, and there were strange noises in bush in the dark. I figured though that it was too isolated for there to be a risk of a serial killer to jump from out behind a tree. However, it was hard to overcome some of the irrational fear than arise when walking up a dark and lonely track on your own.
Anyway, I got there in the end, pretty exhausted, and managed to get a signal when I got close. I was able to get in touch with Kelvin, who I knew would be coming very early in the morning from Hobart ( an equally crazy drive!), and warned him my car would be blocking the route. He said he'd bring jumper leads and so this all put my mind at rest. So I could relax for a bit, have a bath in this amazing property...at least until 5am the next morning !
Of course 5am came, and the fun began again. I wasn't entirely sure how long it would take to get down to the car. It had seemed a long way the night before, but this time it was downhill without bags. But it was even darker than the night before and cold. However, the night sky was extraordinarily beautiful, as you could see the stars and apparently a meteor shower with amazing clarity in such a place. So the wonder of this somewhat distracted me from the unnerving trek back down to the car. As it turned out, I got there much quicker than I expected and Kelvin and Jase were already there and now it was light enough to see that it was possible to roll the car off to the side and out of the way. I grabbed my equipment and we went up to The Keep to get going.
And this is where things started to look up. We were very fortunate to have the weather on our side, with no rain and barely a gust of wind to start with. So we experienced the most magnificent dawn light as the sun start to emerge from the horizon. But I don't need to describe it much, because you can see it from the video.