Entertainment Hive 2017

Tom Ballard's Australian vacation

By Honey B

There is a takeaway shop in Sydney called Aussie Goodies that sums up Tom Ballard's Adelaide Fringe show UnAustralian(ish). The former Triple J breakfast announcer says sitting there in a bain-marie is an eclectic mix of "Aussie'' foods. "They sell hamburgers, pizzas and croissants and that's very funny to me,'' Ballard says. "It's funny because no-one has any idea what Aussie food actually is, but we all know that it is all delicious and there it is sitting side-by-side in a beautiful bain-marie. "It's a nice little metaphor for modern Australia.'' Ballard says his show is about a lot of different things, but it's mainly about a family holiday. "In 1995 my mum, Judy, and dad, Neil, packed up myself and my brother Gavin and we went on a three month holiday right up the guts of the country,'' the former Warrnambool local says. "I was five and Gavin was in year three and we just couldn't believe they were taking us out of school to do this. "We had an old station wagon with a camper trailer and it was my first introduction to what Australia looked like - how big it is, how diverse the country is and all of the crazy stuff out there.'' Ballard says they went through Alice Springs, Darwin, Mt Isa and to the Gold Coast and 20 years later he is looking back at the impact that holiday had on him. "I'm a grown man now, or I am supposed to be, and that trip was the biggest and longest thing I have ever done in my life. "I don't know when memory properly kicks in as a person as what you can look back on - but I can't remember much of my life before this holiday. "It was such a mammoth event for me and we kept diaries the whole way. "During the show I read from those diaries and we have a good old fashioned slide show with Ballard family photos. "It sounds a bit self-indulgent, especially when you throw in the big stuff like looking at our national identity and what it means to me to be an Australian and where we are as a country at the moment. "But don't worry there are a whole heap of dick jokes littered throughout the show as well.'' Ballard, who is asking his audience members to bring some spare change to donate to the organisation Welcome to Australia, doesn't only want to make Aussies laugh - he wants to give a bit more back to this nation. "I guess the issue of detention centres has always been in the background as I was growing up and it doesn't seem to go away. "On that holiday we went to Woomera and to Darwin where there are detention centres and our immigration policy doesn't seem to match the idea that Australia is home of the fair go. "I know it's a really complicated issue but the more I think about it and read about it and there are all these crazy twists and turns, I get really frustrated. "Welcome To Australia seems like a good way to welcome and help these people and I am happy to be on-board with them. "It's important to me to talk about something that gets me hot under the collar.'' While Ballard says many of his friends take off on European vacations - this show has made him remember how fantastic Australia is. "I just went to New York for a month to visit my brother and that was all amazing but we forget just how awesome our backyard really is. "I would love to go back to the Northern Territory and Katherine Gorge - all of that area is really breathtaking. "It was an incredible experience for a five year old, even though my young self back then loved Hollywood on the Gold Coast!'' Tom Ballard in UnAustralian(ish), Garden of Unearthly Delighs, Rundle Park, Le Casceduer, until March 2, 9.30pm. Bookings: Fringetix 1300 621 255
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