FOR THE TROOPS IN EAST TIMOR
Australian entertainers John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew, singer Chantelle Delaney and comedian Gary Bradbury have begun a series of concerts for Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed with the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) in East Timor.
Ten years after the first forces entertainment concert when Australian Defence Force personnel initially deployed to East Timor, the 17th Australian Defence Force Entertainment Tour began with a concert at the ISF Forward Operating Base in the Gleno district South-West of the capital, Dili.
John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew launched the tour with Australian songs, several of which tell the stories of Australian soldiers who have served overseas since the First World War. Comedian Gary Bradbury used knowledge gained from his own military service to entice the service personnel into taking a laugh at themselves in a very Australian way. Singer Chantelle Delaney then sang some well-known covers.
Corporal Sunil Nazareth enjoyed the Gleno concert. He said it was great relief that had the troops both laughing and feeling nostalgic.
"I liked the comedian. He observed a few home truths that were pretty funny," Corporal Nazareth said at the end of the concert.
"Hearing the song I was only 19 touched a chord and Waltzing Matilda is a favourite and especially meaningful when away from home at Christmas on deployment."
Major Matt Wilson, who has served in the Australian Army for over 25 years said the concert was particularly moving.
"To hear such iconic soldiers' songs being performed at a Forward Operating Base by the bloke who wrote it was a great experience," he said.
Earlier in the day the musicians had warmed up their vocal chords performing Christmas carols for children at an orphanage in Gleno. This acoustic show included an impromptu jam session when the local children commandeered the band's guitars. The Entertainment Tour continues with a concert in the Timor Leste Aviation Group hangar where Australian Army Black Hawk helicopters are ordinarily stationed, and this will be followed by a final concert at HPOD, the largest ISF base in East Timor.
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