Tag-along number three for me personally has been an incredible experience.  This country of ours is so special, it wouldn’t matter how you went about exploring it, your trip would be full of beautiful memories. When you do it as we have done, accompanied by approximately 180 like-minded Australians thrown together with a dozen formal concerts and who knows how many impromptu country music experiences at happy hours along the way, the entire package becomes all the more special.  My thanks to those of you who joined me, I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

Below is a fairly detailed pictorial report of tag-along no. 3, if you were on the tour I hope it helps you relive some wonderful memories.  At this stage a draft itinerary for our next tag-along tour (No.4) is on the website but it will be a couple of months (my guess is late September) before a more concrete itinerary will be available.  At that stage applications will be open and you will be able to formally register should you wish to join us in 2017.  Anybody wishing to gain a better idea of our tag-along tours can refer to our archives page and follow the links to the 2014 and 2015 tours reports.

In the meantime, enjoy the story of tag-along number 3 below.



Tag-Along Tour Number 3


MAY – JUNE 2016



As with the two other tours, we started at Miles, but unfortunately for the locals we did not bring rain with us this year as we did in the two previous years.

Eighty odd vans gathered at the Miles Showgrounds, the beauty of which was that we virtually had the grounds to ourselves, which made it easy for a great atmosphere to build.  We were to start with a meet-and-greet gathering on Thursday afternoon and our first concert being on Friday night. However, so keen were the tag-alongers that by Wednesday afternoon (before the tour) eighty percent of the vans had arrived.  We had big vans, little vans, new vans, old vans, campervans, pop-tops, A frames, converted busses, camping trailers etc.  You name it, we had it.  180 Graham Rodger supporters, lovers of Australian country music and passionate Australians ready to explore the outback.










Graham Rodger arrives at the Miles Showgrounds carrying all the sound equipment for the tour, his own guitar, boxes and boxes of CDs and all the personal requirements for him and Deirdre. Both car and van are packed to the brim with every available storage space put to good use.





Some of the 72 Caravans at the Miles Showgrounds





Even the heavens were spectacular for us with a brilliant display by the moon




Our hosts Graham and Deirdre give a warm welcome

to all the tag-alongers






Taking advantage of one of the showground pavilions, Deirdre and Graham hosted our Meet and Greet.  Firstly, they went around and offered Port and Savouries to everybody.  Then they gathered onstage with Rob Hopkins and Trevor Tolton to give everybody a warm Aussie welcome with some special songs including one Graham had written just for the tour.










Those of you who know Graham reasonably well will understand when I say that throughout all our tours, every little town we have visited, Graham has always strived to make that town a little better, a little happier, a little stronger for the visit with he and his tag-alongers.  Between them the tag-along members will spend quite a few thousand dollars and Graham and his fellow muso’s will put on a concert to lift everybody’s spirits.  This is exactly what happened in Miles – a little town doing it tough which was so appreciative of Graham’s visit.  Our first town and our first concert were a huge success and now it was up to us all to carry that theme throughout the rest of the tour







After a very successful show at Miles we headed off to Injune.  As at Tamworth, Graham succeeded in putting the ideal musicians together.  Trevor Tolton, Rob Hopkins, Laura Downing, Laurel Calvert and of course Graham are providing the music entertainment for the tour.  Graham has very carefully and very successfully chosen artists who offer talent and variety, but yet complement each other.  As in previous tours, concerts to date have been first class but this one at Injune went beyond first class and will certainly be one hard to beat.


Lining up for dinner at Injune



The dulcet tones of Rob Hopkins provided a complete
contrast to Graham


Lead guitarist and vocalist Trevor Tolton doing what he does best.






Our fabulous vocalist, comedienne and yodeller
Laura Downing kept the audience captivated


Graham having a good time as he entertains the audience in Injune.



A popular activity at our concerts is when our two talented guitarists, Graham and Trevor have a bit of ‘duelling guitars’.



The legendary Wade Jackson joined us onstage at Possum Park Racecourse in Injune.  Wade wrote songs for people like Stan Coster


Fairbairn Dam (Emerald).

We have now had the pleasure of four absolutely brilliant concerts.  We all left the concert at Injune believing it was of such a standard that it could not possibly be topped.  However, the other concerts have come incredibly close.  At Fairbairn Dam we had a special guest appearance from the Apple Cider Band, who made the long trip across from the coast for just the one concert.  A three-piece band with one of Australia's leading fiddle players, who entertained his audience with absolute brilliant musicianship.  It was also Laura’s last concert with us as she was now heading back to other commitments in Brisbane.  We will soon be joined by the beautiful Laurel Calvert.


Monday morning had us awakening early to the culinary delights of the sweet smell of pancakes cooking drifting through the park.

Graham had traded in his guitar for the appropriate kitchen utensils and was busy cooking approximately 320 pancakes.


Graham Rodger

The man of the hour and the superb musical leader of these talented musicians.



Laura Downing

Much to the audience’s delight, but to Graham's annoyance (as he tried hard to match her), a brilliant yodeller



Trevor Tolton

“The Apprentice” who is very rapidly approaching trade status.


Rob Hopkins

Australia's answer to Johnny Cash.



The ever presence of Graham Rodger and his music soon came to the fore.  All tour, whenever we have gathered as a group and good fun has been the central attraction, it has taken no time at all and the music has started, whether that be from the amateurs or the professionals.  In this situation it has been some of our more talented tag-alongers.  And of course, when a good time is being had by all, in no time at all a conga line is assembled.





After breakfast some tag-alongers just relaxed, enjoying the scenery and each other’s company.  Others tried their luck wetting a line.  No fish were to be caught, but some people did manage a good feed of Red Claw.  Late that afternoon we returned to our breakfast venue for a Happy Hour, where the professionals and talented amateurs took to the stage and gave us a couple of hours of very enjoyable, very off-the-cuff entertainment.











Tuesday 24th May- after a short 60 km drive from the dam we find ourselves in the lovely little opal mining town of Anakie.  Several of our tag-alongers took advantage of a free afternoon and free instruction from our caravan park host as to how to successfully fossick for opals.  By the end of the afternoon one of our group had found a stone valued at around $2,000, two fossickers had found opals valued at around $1,000 each and half a dozen found stones valued around $500and a whole lot more discovered stones worth over $100.  You might say – a very profitable afternoon for many.














The next day was a quiet day which culminated with a wonderful concert.  Outdoors, but set in the most beautiful of environments with linen table cloths and candles the setting for a beautifully home cooked meal which followed.  Then came the show.  Graham and his team were absolutely superb as usual but we were to enjoy a special segment from the Anakie State School Choir.  To say they were very good would be a massive understatement, they were superb.  Their rendition of “I AM” with Graham was very memorable.


Dinner under the stars




Anakie State School Choir accompanying Graham in a recital of “I Am”


Five star all the way.  Graham and his band perform on the back of a cattle truck.


One of the biggest hilights in the concerts for many of the tag-alongers has been duets played by the master and his apprentice.


It has been a real pleasure to listen to Graham and his wonderful Australian country music night after night.


$350 was raised in an auction for a rare bottle of port with the money going to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Over $2000 was raised by the tags to assist medical services in the outback.


Next morning saw Graham swap hats and become a tour guide.  The first stop was at a working mine and details on the workings of the mine were conveyed by the owner.  Following this Graham provided morning tea for the troops which was enjoyed under the gum trees.  Then it was out to a private lake at Rubyvale.  Barramundi fishing was allegedly on the agenda.  I’m no fisherman but over the years I have heard Graham concoct some brilliant excuses as to why his bag was empty, but trying to convince me that in May in the middle of Queensland, the water was too cold, I thought was one of his best excuse yet.  Despite no fish several people did extremely well in the Red Claw department.  The lake was top rate and a very pleasant afternoon was had by all.  Back to the caravan park, time to freshen up, then a happy hour where the owners put on a complimentary sausage sizzle, Rob Hopkins organised yet another walk-up and as on so many previous occasions on this tour, a good time was had by all as we cemented friendships and shared good Aussie mateship.




Friday morning, we left Anakie and travelled 180 km to the small town of Jericho.  For any one night stop over, time is short.  By the time we travel, unhook and set up, go to the hall and prepare the venue for the concert, do a sound check, have a shower, it is time to head back to the hall for the concert.  The rest of the tag-alongers get at least a few hours to investigate the town, but for Graham’s immediate team things are very busy.  Therefore, unfortunately for any one-night stopover we have only pictures taken at the concert.  We did notice however that it was an unusual town in that it had a pub, a shop, a hall, information centre and the one thing that really made it quite unique – a very well kept and functioning drive in theatre.

In preparation for this concert Graham and Deirdre thought hard to give their tag-along group something new and different.  We started with the usual 2 hours of great country music followed by a break, during which supper was served.  Then we had a half hour of quality karaoke from our tag-alongers and then about an hour of the old time (back in the fifties) country dancing – Barn Dance, Pride of Erin and into a bit of jive and rock-n-roll.

At 24 years of age, Trevor Tolton, Graham's lead guitarist really did not understand, but for the majority of us the entire night was a wonderful trip down memory lane.


Graham is tuning up before the concert



Graham, Mr Perfection, is tuning up during the concert..


Our beautiful old hall filling up ready for the show.

Graham doing what Graham does best.



Just a few of the Tag-alongers who dressed in the spirit of the night.



The next morning, Saturdy28th May we left Jericho and headed the 130 km to Blackall.  Again, just a one-night stand so just a few photos of the concert in the Cultural Centre.  Having spent four ten-week stints during the tourist seasons at Blackall with Graham over the years I can assure you it is a town worth a visit if you are ever up that way.


Graham with our special guest artist, George Czender


A buzz builds in the hall with both tags and local.



One of the great highlights of many concerts- a guitar dual (for example “ Apache”) between ‘The Master’ and the Apprentice, namely Graham and Trevor,











As we travelled down from Blackall to Yaraka those of us who had had the privilege of experiencing Yaraka the year before in tag-along 2 were certainly abuzz with the expectations of our visit to Yaraka 2016.  On arrival in town we had just enough time to unhitch, set up our vans and have a quick cup of coffee before heading up to Mt Slocombe to set up.  The incredible experience of a Graham Rodger sunset concert atop Mt Slocombe is one that is impossible to adequately describe.  To fully appreciate the beauty a first-hand experience is essential.  Neither Graham, his accompanying artists or nature with a brilliant sunset let us down, but gave us three hours of what special memories are made of.

After the show it was back down to the town to enjoy a home cooked meal with the locals.  Then for most of us an early night for a big day in the morning.



Listening to Graham and looking at this sort of scenery, it really does not get much better.


Some of the tag-alongers being entertained by Trevor and Rob.


Some more wonderful Australian songs from Laurel.



To the delight of the crowd Graham and Trevor are about to do battle once more.















And the sun sets in the west



Dinner at the community hall


With no guitar available, Graham improvises and plays the spoons



A duet with Laurel after the meal


And then there were three with Rob joing in


Deirdre assists with the kitchen duties


One of our talented amateurs


Graham presents a bottle of Cooper Creek Port which was specially bottled for his tag-along tour as he says thank you on behalf of us all.  The park had looked after us well as we all enjoyed true country hospitality.



The next morning, we were off on a 4WD adventure through private property.  A certain amount of car-pooling was needed as the drive was certainly 4WD territory.  Morning smoko and lunch were had out on the property before heading back to town for an opportunity to clean up, then we gathered once more at the pub for a few drinks, a good meal and the inevitable sing-along.










A socialising time in the grounds of the Yaraka Hotel


Special guest artists

Trevor McTolton and Alfie


Rob and Cheryl provide the evening entertainment and sing-along



Longreach has been in the grip of drought for so long that many of the school children in town can’t remember it any other way.  Over the last decade it has been one of the worst drought affected areas of the entire country.  It was therefore our great pleasure to drive 210 km from Yaraka to Longreach to be accompanied for the last 30 km with torrential rain.  A few of the things our programme had to be cancelled, for example it was impossible to get out to the fishing hole and supply dinner, but compromise became the name of the game and we were all more than delighted for the local farmers. Over the next two weeks Longreach has enjoyed more than 25cm of rain, with more promised this weekend.

The evening of the 31st, the night of our concert, had just a few very light showers.  Our one and only more formal evening, dinner at the Qantas Outback Founders Museum went off beautifully.  Both the meal and the service were very good, but the concert that followed outshone it all.  Give Graham a guitar, microphone and an audience and the will always produce the quality goods.  This evening though is best defined in the words of Trevor Tolton, Graham’s lead guitarist, who said –and I quote “Man, tonight the boss was on fire”!  the rest of the tag-alongers chalked the Qantas dinner and concert up as a major highlight of the tour.




Longreach caravan park just after our arrival.



This was only day one of rain but we believe quite a few centimetres fell over the next few days.

Some of our tag-alongers seated ready for dinner.




A section of the room in which the dinner and concert were held at the museum.






The Boss on fire




Happy hour entertainment moved under shelter due to the rain.




After a very few enjoyable days at Longreach we travelled the 315 km down to Windorah.  It is an unusual little town and those of us who were enjoying our second or third tag-along already had a soft spot for the town and its people. The weather was still very inclement and most of us took some time out to allow our bodies to catch up with our caravans. There is no indoor venue anywhere near big enough to hold a Graham Rodger concert in Windorah, so it had to be an outdoor affair.

All day Friday we watched the build-up of clouds, fearing the worst.  However, the gods were with Graham and late afternoon the clouds dispersed and blue sky appeared.  Performing in the grounds of the pub on the back of a flat-top cattle truck seems to be the magic formula because Graham and his band turned out another brilliant concert.







Toompine Pub

Saturday morning, is the start of the 320 km trek to the Toompine Pub.  Throughout the Australian outback it does not matter how small a town is, it seems mandatory that they have at least one pub.  However, this stay was at the Toompine Hotel, the hotel without a town.  It certainly was different, but nobody complained and everyone had a wonderful time.

Prior to our arrival, Toompine had had its share of rain and once off the sealed road one had to be careful where they drove or where they parked, as Col found out the hard way.  Next morning Graham cooked a pancake morning tea for everybody (he really is becoming quite the chef).  Our thanks to Dogga Dare, the publican, it is stopovers like this that make Graham's tag-along tours very unique and very enjoyable.


Tag-along members take over the Toompine Pub for a free night’s camping and another outdoor concert.


Time to eat again, Graham provides morning tea at Toompine.



On stage outside the pub for another outdoor concert



some of the tag-along crew enjoying the late afternoon sunshine
as they await yet another concert


Colin becomes stranded in the soft, muddy soil



Graham to the rescue



Monday morning and a mere 120 km we arrived at Thargomindah with a shopping stop at Quilpie.

‘Thargo’, yet another little country town in the Australian outback with a personality all of its own.  With the concert not until Tuesday night, Monday afternoon became a good old fashioned “make your own entertainment” type of afternoon.  Graham and Deirdre organised the Graham Rodger Tag-Along Geriatric Olympic Games.  Volunteers were sought to be athletes, team mentors, officials. torch bearers, flag bearers and those who did not have an official task were given a team to barrack for based on the initial of their first name.

At 3.30 pm Graham announced “Let the games begin”. At which time our torch bearer (for want of a better word) jogged into the stadium and lit the red cellophane caldron.  He was followed by our two flag bearers, firstly the Australian flag and secondly the Boxing Kangaroo, the symbol of the Geriatric Games.

Bringing up the rear of the parade were the six teams, all decked out in their designated colours.  Whether it was trying to put a Frisbee through a hoop or spear a toilet roll onto the pole, there is no doubt that our athletes lacked the prowess of many Australian Olympians, and to say that many of them were no more than a pack of cheats, would be an understatement.  Cheating was so rife some athletes were calling for the judges to be drug tested.  But all in all a great time was enjoyed by everyone.  Well done Graham and Deirdre.

The official word from the IOC is that – “these have been the best Geriatric Olympic Games ever”.

At the conclusion of the games Graham served up hot pumpkin soup and cobb-bread-dip.  A few drinks were consumed as some athletes boasted about their gold medals and yet more memories were created.



Olympic Torch Bearer enters the stadium



Enter the Australian flag


The official flag of the Geriatric Olympics 2016 enters the arena



On-field announcers Deirdre and Graham
comment on the events



Red team- the Gold Medal winners - but many would say the biggest cheaters.


Geriatric Tunnel Ball.


Frisbees away.


The pole.


The roll.



From singing star to budding waiter



Rob Hopkins and his ukelele orchestra.


On Tuesday night we held our ‘Thargo’ concert in the Shire Hall


People start arriving for the Graham Rodger Tag-along concert.



The hall starts to fill.


Graham and Trevor tuning up then ready to go.


This smile reflects the vibes of the tour.




Where did you get a
hat like that?





A young and very talented local 8 year-old joins Graham on stage to sing totally unaccompanied.












The local young family join Graham on stage
for a song



Laurel and Graham sing a duet “Stronger for it all


Graham presents the prizes for a raffle raising money for the Royal Flying Doctors Service



A highly sort after prize amongst
the tag-alongers


Yet another prize from Graham’s
private bin.


Noccundra Pub

Wednesday morning, we head off to the Dig Tree via the Noccundra Pub.  Some did the 365 km from Thargo to Dig Tree in one hit while others had an overnight stay on the Wilson River at Noccundra.


Noccundra Pub, a night stopover
on route to Nappa Merrie



The banks of the Wilson became home for the night for most of us.


Wilson River






Dig Tree and Nappa Merrie Station.


We were very surprised at how green everything was.



Out west, the road to anywhere is long and straight.


Camping spot at the Dig Tree on the Cooper Creek.




The Tree and monument to Burke
and Wills.











The incredible amount of history involved with this area made it very special.



Cooper Creek on the Nappa Merrie Station



Nappa Merrie homestead


Trafic jams outback Australia style




Crowd start to gather at the station ready for the concert.


Tucker time.










Graham gets all the tough jobs as he wishes the daughter a “happy 21st” on behalf of all the tag-alongers.



Graham’s way of saying thank you to the management of Nappa Merrie.`





“The Cooper coming down.”





On the bank of The Cooper
















The proof of extensive flooding and erosion over the years was very obvious.



People gather ready for Graham’s “swan song” concert


The final concert is underway.




Rob and Cheryl model the latest fashions.l







Graham and Dee are presented with a guitar back having been signed by all the Tags.



Great work Robert Hopkins. What a beautiful souvenir




Glen and Shirley - the original inspiration for
“The Chimney and the Rose”


No wonder the Cooper is Graham’s “heaven on earth”


Unbelievably green



Another incredible Tag-along through our unique outback.  Now the long, long drive home
and the long wait for the Graham Rodger tag-along no. 4 in 2017



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