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This Is Northern New South Wales


Big music demands a big venue. Rock acts, such as the Rolling Stones or Muse just wouldn’t have the same impact playing to a room of a couple hundred people. But on the flipside of this, there are those artists for whom the intimacy of a smaller venue serves only to enhance the musical experience.

Rose Cousins and Jordie Lane are trans-Pacific folksters-in-arms, both in their own inimitable way blending blues and folk with a little bit o’ country. While their sounds are significantly different, they create a beautiful and seamless compliment to one another. Lane has spent much of this year in the Americas, primarily in the States, where he first met Rose, before traversing her home country of Canada on tour. The duo recognised the connection in their music and from that grew the notion of the Festival of Small Halls.


The Festival of Small Halls is a new concept for Australia. Adopted by the organisers of the Woodford Folk Festival from a Canadian design, it takes national and international artists on a tour of Australia’s less conventional venues – small, out-of-the-way towns that rarely get to host musicians of such calibre. Taking in such destinations as Degilbo, Barcaldine and Pinnacle, it’s definitely a route far from the beaten track and offers both the artists and the residents a unique experience.

As Rose Cousins’ first time to Australia, this quintessentially outback journey will be both inspirational and completely unlike anything she has experience. “Some of my best inspiration comes from the ocean, because that’s where I grew up. My cells align and, when I stare out across the ocean, there’s nothing in the way of my thoughts. I feel that the landscape in the outback will be similar to that. I can’t imagine that I won’t be inspired by lots of things.”

While Jordie is definitely no stranger to playing his way around this expansive country of ours, the Festival of Small Halls takes small-town gigging to the next level, and its something he relishes, connecting more closely with the audience in these more intimate performances. Rose too – a small-town girl herself, feels a real affinity with such events.

“Sometimes the biggest heart comes from a small show in a small community,” she reflects. “I come from a small community, so I have a genuine appreciation for playing gigs in small places. It’s safe and there’s camaraderie and there’s not much space between the musicians and the audience, which is the best feeling. And I think that’s what the Festival of Small Halls is also about. There’s not much distance between Jordie and I and the people we’re playing for which, in the end, makes us all feel normal.”

This is just as well as some of the stops on the month long tour make Woop Woop look like a sprawling metropolis. The bookends of the tour, however, are far from one-horse towns. The Festival of Small Halls began with the Mullumbimby Music Festival and several shows played to hundreds of people over a long weekend schedule. As Rose’s first experience of Australia, she was thrilled for such an enthusiastic response and enamored with the concept of an entire town hosting a single music event.

“I think it’s amazing that there’s a festival that a whole town can get involved in,” she shares. “I like the idea that because the town is so small, it’s so manageable and that people get to see music and we get to play music in varying venues…everyone benefits.”


The festival path then takes a diverse and meandering wander through inland Queensland before heading back coastwards for its final and most dynamic stop – the Woodford Folk Festival. The six-day event will serve as the glorious finale for the tour, incorporating a myriad of performers, from dancers and circus troupes to a wealth of international music acts, a crescendo of sights, sounds and experiences to finish their journey in style.

Woodford is one of the most unique experiences ever,” says Jordie – a festival veteran.”You are completely taken away from any town or cars and so you go into this fantasy world. It becomes this kingdom of different villages.”

But for Rose, the Woodford Folk Festival will be yet another first on her list: “Everyone has told me unbelievable things about Woodford and the ceremony of ringing in the New Year. When you’re part of a festival, you really feel like you’re part of something that can only last for a finite amount of time, because if you try to extend it, it wouldn’t be as good as it is.”

For the almost week long Woodford Folk Festival, it is almost as if time, and indeed the outside world, stands still. But for those six days, performers and attendees alike can experience the camaraderie, the simplicity and the pure escapism shared by Rose and Jordie on the outback adventures.

For more information on the upcoming dates of the Festival of Small Halls, visit

Or go to to investigate the Woodford Folk Festival