On Saturday 26th January, residents of Coombe End Court enjoyed an Australian extravaganza!

The homes new activity coordinator Vicky gave the staff and residents who were keen to be involved some aboriginal dots for face painting.  Kasper’s Café was decorated for the occasion in red, white and blue streamers, Aussie wildlife, city signs and flags. Chris Holland, aka the didgeridoo man, visited the home and held a didgeridoo workshop in the morning. We were joined by a couple of residents and staff members from Forest View (a local support service for adults with learning and other disabilities) who shared the experience with us.  And what an experience it was!

He showcased his talent on the didgeridoo by incorporating it into storytelling that became quite animated in places; Chris went into the audience and demonstrated how someone would scavenge for insects, for example.  He even pretended to roast our inflatable kangaroo! We learnt more about the didgeridoo as he talked us through the making of one and demonstrated the different types with a collection that he had brought with him.  Then came the time for us all to learn the art of… didgeridooism…? Everyone who wanted to have a go was given a training instrument to practise on.  Once we had manged to make some sort of sound rather than just noise (it’s much harder than it looks!), we were shown how to create a variety of sounds by tightening our lips and making noises whilst blowing. Once we had cracked this, or attempted to, Chris told a story where our practising was put to good use by creating accompanying sound effects.  We would certainly have chased away any wild dingoes that may have been in the area but I don’t think that any of us will be quitting our day jobs!  It was a good laugh and everyone had fun trying.

Then residents had a lunch of Maggie Beer inspired chicken pie, whilst Chris went into the gardens to find soil and natural substances to make paint for our afternoon of aboriginal dot art.

Chris managed to make three different natural shades of paint from his findings in the garden; blue, black and white. He handed out books for inspiration and showed us some examples.  We were all given a piece of cloth and some cotton buds and were let loose with our imagination.  Some residents had very interesting ideas and one resident even created a dot art story on his piece of cloth. The Cubs joined us for this activity and got thoroughly involved, ditching the cotton buds in favour of using their fingers instead.

We were even lucky enough to enjoy an impromptu musical collaboration when a resident’s family member joined in with his guitar and played alongside Chris on his didgeridoo.  It was a very relaxing and enjoyable afternoon.

The residents enjoyed a tea of vegemite pizza with lamingtons for pudding.

Chris had truly transported us to a land far away through his art, words and music and gave us a cultural experience like no other.  I am absolutely sure that after a day of didgeridoos and painting inspired by the ‘land down under’, everyone went to bed smiling and slept well, possibly dreaming of kangaroos and the great Australian outback!