Tag Archives: touring

Day 12 & 13: Venice to Paris

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Today, Birralee woke up to a lovely sunny day in Mestre, and had a filling breakfast at Hotel Russott. At 8:30am we all boarded busses to take us up the road to the Grand Canal ferry terminal where we boarded separate boats to the island of Venice! Our journey towards the city was a little bumpy, but we all arrived safely. We split into six groups and were given some radio devices to listen to tour guides. Many thanks to Barbara, Filippo, Pamela, Cinzia, Manu and Nora for showing us around Venice and introducing us to the sights of this city.


Lunchtime saw each group venture to various eateries on the island; though of course pizza was a favourite for many! After lunch we all met up for a truly Venetian experience – a Gondola ride! In groups of six we were taken into the canals on the gorgeous wooden boats as they sleekly slunk through the quiet ‘streets,’ buildings looming over us.

Next stop was Doge’s Palace, where we were led through ancient halls covered in old art including pieces by Titian, and across the famous suspended ‘Bridge of Sighs.’ Farewelling our amazing guides, we once again split up for some shopping and dinner – many had their sights set on gelato for desert! Reconvening with all of Birralee at the docks at 7:45pm, we boarded our boats back to the mainland and watched with smiles as the glinting lights of Venezia faded away.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Today, we travelled to our final European country, France! We split into two different groups between choristers, staff and AP’s for the journey from Marco Polo Airport in Venice, to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. With no glitches, we all arrived safely. Tomorrow we take on EuroDisney!!!

We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!

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8.Welcome to Opatija!

Friday April 12

A cold, wet morning in Zagreb greeted Voices of Birralee on the choristers’ final day in Croatia’s capital.

BBV bid farewell to their kind and welcoming billets, who had hosted us so graciously and helped fill our hearts with incredible memories!

The Birralee Blokes also packed up and left the hostel they were staying in, and boarded the bus to continue to our next destination – Opatija!

Many took the long bus trip to catch up on some much needed sleep and rest. We did have one quick stop where Ruth Moores and Ally Dunk had a very tasty hot chocolate though!

Choristers read, listened to music or audiobooks, or played quiet card games on our journey to re-store energy.

We arrived in Opatija and stored our belongings in our accommodation – the Kristal Hotel.

With an afternoon of free time in this coastal town, many went searching for some food. We discovered the love this town has for seafood; marinara, oysters, fish-based meals and crustacean delicacies which were heartily eaten for lunch.

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Due to the inclement weather and chilly temperatures, some choristers also visited a few cafes to find a warm hot chocolate.


As the afternoon passed, Voices of Birralee congregated at the hotel once more, now fully dressed in attire appropriate for the the Welcome Assembly concert for the “We Are Singing” Adriatic Festival.


Each choir had the opportunity to sing one piece, and we were thrilled to hear some incredible ensembles from Brussels, Italy, Hungary and the UK.

Of course, BBV and the Birralee Blokes performed incredibly well too for the fellow Festival ensembles.

Following the concert, we had a few minutes to mingle with the members from each choir – many of the choristers caught up with Valentin’s choir who had hosted us in Graz!!!

Finally, we returned to our seaside hotel for a delicious buffet dinner.

A host of international cuisine styles were on offer and all the singers thoroughly enjoyed this warm meal after a cold day out and about in Opatija.

Tomorrow the Festival starts in full – stay tuned!!

We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!

Receive the daily posts direct to your inbox by subscribing to this blog – head to the bottom right of this page and click ‘follow’ then enter your email address.

Follow Voices of Birralee via Facebook, and join the ‘Friends of Birralee’s Anzac Centenary Tours’ Facebook group. 

#vobanzac2019 #vobeurope2019 #voicesofbirralee  

Day 7 & 8: Kazakhstan Finale!

As we drew closer to the end of tour, the final event was the Gala Concert, which was to be performed in front of delegates of the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. 

Our group arrived to the venue late Thursday morning and immediately got to work with rehearsals to prepare for the big event, including allowing the national TV station to rehearse their ‘shots’. 


Rehearsing the massed piece with the orchestra (pic by Paul)

Just before the concert, our choristers decided to do a lap of the building to present gifts to other choirs we’d befriended. Gifts included Aussie themed pencils, koala keychains, Tim Tams and CDs. 

No one was more excited than the Italians who reacted emphatically to the gifts. And soon the word spread that we had little koala keychains, so other choristers came to our dressing room politely asking for one.

Soon we were ushered to the stage to begin the concert, awaiting ‘go-time’ for when the delegates would finish their earlier conference to be treated to some music. 

And then it all happened and went pretty well we feel – but see for yourself! 

There was a sense of great excitement when the concert finished as it had been a full-on week to get the music performance ready. 

After the concert, we caught a bus from our hotel to the city where we went to Baiterek Tower to catch Astana from another angle and at night.  

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At the top of Baiterek Tower (pic by Rohan)

On Friday we had a slow morning packing and getting organised for the trip home. 

We enjoyed our final meal together in Kazakhstan before heading to the Astana Airport in the afternoon. 


Our hotel for the week! (pic by Rohan)

It was a huge week of singing, eating and exploring such a quirky place and we feel very grateful for the opportunity provided by the Astana – Voice of The World organisers, and to Voices of Birralee for this and many opportunities we’ve been provided over the years.


Saying goodbye to Astana, including Dory and Sanzhar, our friendly translators.

A special thank you to our conductor, Paul Holley OAM for being our fearless leader, preparing our little choir for this occassion, while providing morale and musical support on the ground in Astana.

And thank you to our supporters at home! We can’t wait to share the next adventure with you.