Great Turnout for Burra Festival



Country music revellers from across Australia converged at the Burra Showgrounds on the weekend of November 18 – 20, for the third annual Burra AGL Country Music Festival.

This year saw a bumper crowd attend the event with the Saturday night crowd surpassing the previous two Festivals.

Festival goers began flocking into the town on Thursday morning and by Saturday morning the showgrounds were full of campers, vans and people looking forward to the weekend.

The Hon Dan van Holst Pellekaan officially opened the Festival and said the event is a credit to the people who have worked very hard to get it off the ground.

“It’s so wonderful to have people that want to support their community, want to support country music, and so, have many reasons to put together such a wonderful program, and that’s one of the reasons that after only two years, and this year being the third, that it’s such a successful event. Its great achievements and great people making their contributions which I think is wonderful.

“I also appreciate all the people who have travelled a long way, whether it be from outside of Burra, further afield from South Australia or interstate, we really appreciate the fact that you’ve come to Burra, to enjoy this country music festival .

It has some fantastic components on the program. Wonderful Australian artists, International as well, a country music song writing workshop – Many, many things on the program for the weekend, for everybody who’s come here, that they’ll enjoy.

The other thing people might not know is that I genuinely, personally love country music. So it’s a lovely pleasure for me to open this Festival.”

The show kicked off with Rock n Roll band The Twilight Zone featuring Peter Tilbrook, John Bywaters and Billy Clarke that kept the party going well into the night.

Early risers enjoyed the Poets Breakfast on Saturday morning with Michael Jones, the Living Poet and award winning Australian Bush Poet Bob Magor followed by the Talent Quest which attracted a healthy number of entrants and strong competition across each category.

The Emu Tree Workshop with Chris Teusner in the Show Hall was a big hit with sessions running all day resulting in five original recordings.

“We had a full program and were flat out all day.” Chris said.

“Everybody was keen to learn all the aspects of composition and editing and by the end of the day we had completed five recordings. It’s a great venue and we didn’t have any spill over from the Festival happening outside. I was very happy about the clarity and quality of what we were able to get recorded.”

Meanwhile, the growing crowd were treated to a terrific afternoon of live music with Bernie and the Bandits, Michael Jones, Pete Jenkins, Juliet Oliver, Tracey Rains, Tanya Cornish, John Turner Jr, Sandie Dodd and Dwayne Elix, who with the accompaniment of Claypan guitarist Greg Bunnett, wowed the audience with their rendition of ‘duelling banjo’s’.

The weather was just about perfect and so was the atmosphere as the evening progressed with Sandie Dodd capturing the audience with her Dolly Parton set.

A quick break for the drawing of the raffle and then headline act Doug Bruce and The Tailgaters took to the main stage.

A couple bars in and the place was jumping with a full dance floor and toes tapping by the hundreds to top quality music featuring some brilliant craftwork on the lead guitar.

The band played a tight set and finished in front of a roaring crowd calling for more, to which they obliged with a booming finale.

A quick skit featuring the ‘Village Idiots’ and ‘Sapphires’ followed as artists dressed as the Village People and Sapphires had a dance-off on the stage. This was evidently enjoyed a little too much by some of the “actors” who got right amongst the action displaying some questionable dance moves that invigorated the lively audience.

Michaela Jenke and Whiplash kept the mood upbeat with an energetic set to close the programme.

Sunday began with the Poets Breakfast followed by the Word brought by Wayne Phillips and Gospel morning performed by various artists.

The day continued on with country music performed by an array of artists before Bob Magor had the crowd laughing and hanging off every word as he recited humorous yarns.

The event rounded off with Tracey Rains and Claypan playing the closing set, during which, one minutes silence was observed for Nathaniel O’Brien who was an integral part of the first two Festivals’ and sadly missed from this year’s event.

At the audience’ request, Danny O’Brien sang a couple favourites with lots of voices chiming in from out front, before the show closed with the last song performed by Tracey and Claypan, Tanya Cornish and Juliet Oliver.

People leaving the grounds took time to stop and thank organisers for a wonderful weekend and show how much they appreciated the show.

A committee spokesperson said this year’s Festival was the best in terms of numbers, but also by the support of those attending.

“The committee are extremely pleased to know that all the hard work and effort has been rewarded with a great attendance, but more so the feedback. People coming through the gate were saying how much they enjoyed the weekend – the music, the food, the atmosphere, and that’s really pleasing to hear.”

“We were also proud to see more local entrants in the Talent Quest. Burra and districts has a deep pool of talent that we definitely want to support and encourage.

“The artists were really impressed with the set-up and were super happy with the sound, so that’s a thumbs up to our sound techie Chris Rains.

“They’ve all said they want to come back and play the Burra Festival, so we’re chuffed.”

There have been many comments heard and some left on facebook including this one by Brenda Villis of Hallett during the Sunday sessions.

“As the annual Burra AGL Country Music Festival draws to a close, Danny & Karen O’Brien, Tracey & Chris, & Michelle can feel justly proud with the success of this event. Their supportive committee and sponsors are also to be commended for their contribution.

The Burra Showgrounds came to life this weekend with an array of caravans packing into the horse arena and the surrounding showground area – music lovers coming from interstate, the city and throughout country SA.

The 3 days of non-stop music, the talent quest and workshops gave music lovers a smorgasbord of entertainment plus the entertainers an opportunity to showcase their skills.

Nathaniel’s presence could be felt throughout this special event and all music lovers who knew and loved him are extremely proud of his loved ones efforts to stage the festival this year.

A huge event like this really puts Burra on the map. It is a win-win situation for so many.

Thank you for a wonderful event.”

Talent Quest Results

Junior Vocal
1st Tahlia Halliwell, Port Augusta
2nd Andrew Hill, Port Augusta
3rd Ella Hebberman, Hawthorne

Junior Country Rock
1st Andrew Hill
2nd Ella Hebberman
3rd Tahlia Halliwell

Senior Vocal
1st Tyler Patterson, Port Pirie
2nd Melissa Preusker, Hope Valley
3rd Julie Miller, Sunnydale

Open Duet
Winner: Andrew Hill/Tahlia Halliwell

Open Songwriters
1st Chloe Warrick, Loxton ($500 recording voucher FeetnFrames Recording Studio, Quorn)
2nd Abbie Ferris, Gawler
3rd Melissa Preusker


Nathaniel O’Brien Memorial Award ($500)
2016 recipient Andrew Hill
This award is in honour of Nathaniel O’Brien, to assist a young performer develop their skills by offering some monetary support to go towards the purchase of an instrument, music/vocal lessons or travel expenses.

Nathaniel will always be remembered as a kind, helpful, supportive, caring person who was always ready to encourage anyone who was feeling down about themselves or their ability.

“Thank you so much to the O’Brien family for rewarding me with the Nathaniel O’Brien memorial award 2016.
This award means so much to me because the O’Brien family have helped me so much through my music career. Nathaniel O’Brien will never be forgotten for his amazing talents of playing and singing music of all genres and styles. Nathaniel was so supportive of every one and all their talents which he would help us in any way he could to make their performances better if that meant joining in or lending his own instruments.” Andrew Hill.


Raffle results
1st Escape Houseboat 7 days (value $4000) – Leah & Ryan Hodgson, Riverland
2nd $300 – Kelly Chapple, Roxby Downs
3rd $150 – Fiona Chatfield
4th Basket of Goodies and 1 bottle of wine – (kindly donated back)


A HUGE thank you to the following sponsors – the lifeblood of the Festival:

AGL, Allingtons, Burra Broadcaster, Regional Council of Goyder, Pauline R Murray Accountants, Burra Motor Inn, Gill Electrical, Cooper’s Butchers, Pig ‘n’ Whistle B&B, Burra Hotel, Commercial Hotel, Royal Exchange Hotel, Oppy’s IGA, Mid North Environment Services, National Trust Burra Branch, Booborowie IGA, St Just Café, White Cedars Café, Burra Stationers, Waters’ Burra Bakery, Parky’s Hardware, Burra Post Office, Burra BP, Goyder Auto, Steve Schlieper Photography.


A special thank you to the following who helped in any way before and during the Festival – we couldn’t have done it without you…..

Danny O’Brien, Peter Cullen, Neil and Kelly Chapple, Paul and Sharon Matthews, Ian Hall, Michael Squire, Keryl and Daryl Maidment, Kelly Devine, Vicki Van Gasteren, Amy Berryman, Julie McBride, Sarah Spackman, Steve Berryman, Casey Cooper, Kloe Berryman, Mackenzie Williams, Sam Rains, Jack Rains, Samantha Pearn, Damian Quinn, Melissa Schlieper and Artie. Sincere apologies if we’ve missed anyone.



Doug Bruce and the Tailgaters were the headline act on the Saturday night. More images can be found at

Image courtesy Steve Schlieper Photography



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