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Singing to the Heart

Tony Backhouse

19 May - 2 June 2019

An Epic Singing Journey into the Heart of Australia. Over two exquisite weeks you will exist inside a beautiful desert song



Only $5,990 per person.

Non refundable deposit of $1500
secures your position.

Single supplement $2000*

Not Payable until balance due

The Itinerary - 19 May - 2 June - 2019


Just the bare bones!


19th May - ADELAIDE - Pickup TBA


19 - 21 May - QUORN - 3 Days - We will spend 3 days rehearsing in this wonderful old South Australian heritage town - gateway to the gorgeous Flinders Ranges.


22 - 23 May - MARREE - 2 Days - The old Ghan terminated in this Outback town, where the descendents of Afghan Cameleers still live alongside local Aboriginals. We’ll access Lake Eyre from here and perform on the balcony of the famous Marree Hotel.


24 - 25 May - COOBER PEDY - 2 Days - a fascinating place to explore opal mines and the incredible Breakaways before performing in the underground Serbian Church, one of the most unique devotional spaces on earth.


26 May - INDULKANA - 1 Day - We will stay in Marla as an access point for a day long workshop in the Aboriginal community of Indulkana, workshopping and singing with the local people.


27 - 28 May - ULURU - 2 Days - Sing the sun down over Uluru before spending a day exploring Uluru [Ayers Rock] and Kata Tjuta. [The Olgas]


29 May - 2 June - ALICE SPRINGS - 4 Days - Visit the East & West Macdonell Ranges and rehearse with the Hermannsburg Choir. Perform in an outdoor concert in the Community Precinct to an audience from all over Central Australia.


2 June - Depart ALICE SPRINGS.

The Team

Tony Backhouse

Composer • Vocal Arranger • Singer •Author • Choir Director • Workshop Leader
Tony Backhouse, BA, BMus, is one of the leaders in the Australasian a cappella movement. He founded Australia’s foremost a cappella gospel choir Café of the Gate of Salvation in 1986, and directed it for 21 years. He arranged and composed the bulk of their repertoire and still writes music regularly for them. He founded a cappella choir the Honeybees and has directed and sung with reclusive male a cappella trio Heavenly Lights since 1996. In demand for his inspiring teaching style, Tony has run more than 2000 vocal workshops throughout the world for the public, for festivals, schools, universities, churches, organisations and corporate training events. He currently lives in Napier, New Zealand.

Raymond Hawkins - Tour Leader

Raymond Hawkins - aka The Electronic Swagman - has operated ecletic tours all over Australia for decades. He toured with some of Australia greatest bands - Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and The Angels as tour manager, lighting designer and/or production manager. He has worked with Opera Australia, The Sydney Dance Company and ran the Audio/Visual Department at the Sydney Opera House. 
Raymond created the Burra Gospel & Soul Festivale, operates and designed the BackRoaders tours and ran the Desert Choir program with Tony for almost a decade.

Alison Hunt - Cultural Liaison
Alison Hunt is one of Central Australia’s leading women. She is a Senior Pitjantjarra Woman as well as being a Senior Arrentre Woman. She consults to VOYAGES - Indigenous Tourism Australia on cultural issues, has served on the Board of the Central Land Council and sits on the Board of the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.

Aside from all that, Alison is a remarkable soul who has navigated her way through various cultures and risen to eminent positions in all of them. She will navigate us as well, into the communtiy of Indulkana, into the Hermannsburg Choir and into her homeland of Uluru. From Coober Pedy onward, Alison will travel with us, answering questions and sharing her wisdom and love, both of which are plentiful.  I wrote a story about Alison a few years back. I invite you to read it.

A Personal Perspective

Over years of leading choirs into beautiful places throughout Australia there have been many wondrous experiences: recitals in sea caves on the wild coast of Tasmania; pop-up gigs in remote pubs, in outback woolsheds and in lonely churches.

One such experience was so sublime that it has never left me, and it resonates still in the design of Singing to the Heart.

At night the desert landscape of Australia mirrors a Shakespearean set, landscape a principal player, stage lighting provided by moon and stars, theatre props of shadowed rocks and spikey grevillias. All the while the sub -plot underpins the scene, that sense that Indigenous people lived and conducted ceremony here for thousands of years.

In a place like this, just six months from my father’s death, I listened to a choir sing around a fire. In one beautiful piece my loss found its expression, a universal register for those feelings you feared were yours alone. 

Sound was stripped to the elemental, attuned to a stark desert that demands sparseness in all things.  At that perfect moment, around that fire, private grief morphed into something universal. It spoke to the transcendent power of song. 

Singing together in beautiful places can evoke a sense of the sublime. To not just see the desert but to stand with other human beings and sing, shared voices providing an intimate pathway towards comprehending the colossal space and story before us. The sense that we are not alone.

Each man, woman and child should see the desert … just once before they die.

Choir Gig and Notes

The tour is for people who want to sing, there is no requirement for people to be professional singers. The attitude of the Choir is an immensely supportive one where practiced choristers and novices sing happily side-by-side.
The gigs will be on a donation-at-the-door and support local causes. They will all be street posted and supported with radio and press. 

Accommodation Notes

High quality mix of motels. Limited single supplement will be available. 

Food Notes

Breakfast and lunch supplied daily plus two evening meals at Marree Hotel. All other evening meals at participants’ expense. This gives a change for people to be a little independent and will allow quicker food preparations.

Coach & Luggage Notes

We will most likely be travelling in 2 x 4WDs so as to be able to access off road locations such as Lake Eyre and remote communities. It also adds flexibility to the programme.
We ask that you keep your wardrobe to the practical side of lavish.


What's in and what's out.

The workshop INCLUDES:
•     daily workshops with Tony Backhouse 14 days/ 14 nights twin share accommodation [see below for Accommodation Options] 
•    Our cultural liaison, Alison, joins us from Coober Pedy.
•     14 nights accommodation.
•     all transport in 4WD Coaches.
•     all breakfasts and lunches. 
•     two evening meals.
•    Aboriginal local interactions.
•     all side excursions, National Park fees.
•     professionally promoted and stage managed performances and concerts.
•     surprises you will just have to take my word for. 
•     airfares to Adelaide and return from Alice Springs. 
•    evening meals except as indicated above.
•     alcohol.

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