Forget the pub crawl. Throughout June the Regional Centre for Culture (RCC) is launching the Town Hall Crawl. Its singular objective is to lead people on a free singing tour of regional town halls.
“In this area, particularly around Castlemaine in the shire of Mount Alexander, there is a real tradition of community singing,” says RCC co-producer Elizabeth Walsh. “We thought it was a great way to celebrate some of the smaller communities, but also get people travelling around.”
A total of 10 country hubs will play host to the event, which runs on three Saturdays throughout June (2, 16 and 30). On each day three different venues will open their doors to the public for a sing-a-long.
“Often you drive past a hall and wonder, how do you get in? How do you see what’s inside?” says Walsh. “[This] focuses on those little forgotten town halls that dot our rural landscape.”
On your feet
With no experience, expertise or talent necessary, the event is open to all ages. “People get very self-conscious about singing, [but] this movement in community singing says there are no rules,” says Walsh. “Everyone has a voice, everyone can sing. It’s empowering people to actually get up and have a go.”
Walsh says mere observers are more than welcome, but she is sure they'll be converted. “There’s no sitting around with these things,” she says. “Once you hear and see what is going on you'll be up on your feet and having a sing.”
Let singing be your guide
Whether you end up heading to the ex-county court in Dunolly, the grand Clunes Town Hall dating back to 1873 or any one of the other eight small towns on Jaara country, you’ll find experienced singing tutors ready to guide you through each hands-on lesson.
Bendigo local Merrin Torpy is conservatorium trained and specialises in vocal technique; Castlemaine and Kyneton regular Tara Flinn in contemporary a cappella; and songwriter Eva Popov with storyteller Rebecca Phillips will be singing from country. Phillips is a traditional owner of the Dja Dja Wurrung people and she’ll be singing partly in that language.
Choose one or more
The “movable feast” will have new material at every stop, so anyone doing the full series won’t risk doubling-up on what they’ve already sung. “The idea is you could do all of them if you wanted to,” Walsh says.
All who attend the workshops are invited to join the Maryborough Town Hall finale at 7pm June 30, just after the last event at Talbot Town Hall on the same day. It will showcase an impromptu performance and audience members are welcome.
It’s part of the charm
As part of the RCC’s Meander series, the Town Hall Crawl has been organised not just to open up buildings that have stood as community pillars for generations, but to coax people into the surrounding towns for a wander through the region during the Datimdatim (Boomerang) and Wai-kalk (Wattle) time.
“Once you start a journey here you never know where it’s going to take you,” says Walsh. “Down a little back lane, or you might stop somewhere and find a market or plant shop. It’s an excuse to really get out and explore the smaller places around the region.”
Town Hall Crawl
Saturday June 2
Baringhup Hall 10.30am
Bowenvale Timor Hall 1pm
Dunolly Town Hall 3.30pm
Saturday June 16
Lyonville Hall 10.30am
Bullarto Hall 1pm
Glenlyon Hall 3.30pm
Saturday June 30
Creswick Neighbourhood Centre 10.30am
Clunes Town Hall 1pm
Talbot Town Hall 3.30pm
Final Performance – Saturday June 30
Maryborough Town Hall 7pm
All sessions are free but places are limited. Book now.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Regional Centre for Culture.