This year the Regional Arts Development Fund opened up a Special Round of funding for arts and culture individuals to develop regional skills by attending the Regional Arts Australia national conference, Artlands in Launceston from 1-3 September 2021.

I was so excited to be a recipient of this grant, with the promise to present a blog during my time. I am a very big fan of Tasmania, and couldn’t wait to connect with others on this subject that keeps the skip in my step everyday.

But understandably, the decision was made in early August to move the conference to a digital program , to ensure everyone’s safety during this time.So my travel plans changed from flights to the freeing and open roads of Regional Queensland.

A solo road trip is a fairly new experience for me, as I am new to driving – having had my licence for the first time since November last year. So a six hour trip while quite daunting, was a chance to continue to celebrate doing new things and giving the ‘bird’ to fear.

As an avid daydreamer, concentrating along country roads continues to be a challenge for me though. I want to stop, stare. Walk, wonder while wandering. Not always possible, with trucks ‘up your bum’ and very few places to pull over in a safe sense. I may or may not have veered on the wrong side of the road, while reducing my speed to 40; soaking up the scenery – with The Go-Betweens blaring as I travels across cattle and cane country.

My pit stops where Miriam Vale (where I re-connected with the Wrapt in Mugul public art trail. Again, tricky to pull over, but you get that fleeting sense of “oh, there it is!” And eyes back on the road again)….Biggenden, then Woomeri – where I took note of a public art piece where the donor of said work was acknowledged, but not the artist. Raising subjects on the value that the artist has in the community. It’s not the first time I have seen this recently, and I’m sure I will be opening up a dialogue about this in the next few days.

This is the longest Ive ever been in a car on my own. I started talking to myself half way through the trip, and enunciating Townships names as if I was learning a new language. And as I approached Western Wakka Wakka, Giabul and Jarrowair Country, I became very aware of the size of the city. I have never driven in a city of this caliber before. A bucket of rain started circulating the space. I had skipped two public loos to get to my destination quicker, and I was getting a bit fed up. Insert traffic jams, and hints of road rage began to emerge.

But by 4.30 I was settled, and an hour later greeted by the friendly and familiar face of Shelley Pisani from the Ideas Distillery.

This morning I awoke with the birds at 4.50, and am ready to immerse myself into the world of conferencing. To discover more about the creative and cultural scene of regional, rural and remote Australia.

Thank you, Regional Arts Development Fund for this opportunity.

The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

Melissa Peacock respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land, waters and communities on which she walks, works and lives. She pays her respects to the Elders past, present and future of Indigenous nations in Australia and abroad.