There are a lot worse places to be stuck in lockdown than Mount Isa in winter, as English musician Mike Jenkins is finding out.
Mr Jenkins,a 62-year-old blues and roots singer-songwriter, is now based in New Zealand but embarked on a journey to Australia to pick up gigs including one at Darwin.
Not having been to this part of the world before, Mr Jenkins decided to combine business with pleasure and hired a car to make the journey overland from Brisbane.
Mr Jenkins has had a long and colourful musical career, including getting a publishing deal with EMI in London and recording with Beatles engineer Pete Brown, missing out on a contract with Joe Cocker in the US, getting fired from a band in Italy and having his guitar stolen on a Rome beach and getting a support gig for Roger McGuinn of the Byrds in Germany before being arrested in East Berlin.
In 1988 he came to Australia and got on TV.
"I managed to get two 2 ABC sessions and a spot on Hey Hey it's Saturday Red Faces," Mike said.
"I was gonged by Donny Osmond but Neil Finn gave me a 9 out of 10. I sang in a supermarket trolley with a bike wheel as percussion with a song about the supermarket."
He went to New Zealand in 2005 where his life changed.
"I met a beautiful Kiwi woman, we got married and now live on the beach with three bouncing boys, all keen musicians," he said.
"This year they let me go to gave a visit to the old life so I'm living in a Juicy camper and travelling around Australia.
"I was snorkeling on the reef, something I've always wanted to do, played a gig there, and then I got this gig in Darwin but I didn't realise it was four days drive away."
Mike and his van took off, having to detour around Townsville which was locked down and headed west towards Mount Isa and the Territory.
"I was phoning hotlines and they said yes okay but I got to the border and they said, 'no you can't come,'."
Mike took his van up the Camooweal-Gregory road, camped in the Gregory and then came back to Mount Isa via Mary Kathleen.
While at the Mount Isa K-Mart, he was chatting with an employee who told him about The Shack which was on that night, and she even went online and bought him a ticket.
"I went in there and it was great, they really responded well," he said.
"I played and then I stayed there the night."
Mike is still planning to head to the Territory but his unscheduled stop in Mount Isa has left him with warm memories.
"I've found the atmosphere very warm and it's the only place I've seen Aboriginal and white people living together," he said,
"I'd like to play The Shack again if I'm back here, it's a great little place."
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