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From the Where2sing.com stories:
The Great Karaoke Escape 2004/05

Day 9

It's still raining. It's still Melbourne. I'm sick of the weather, and as the weekend is approaching, it's time for the dash to the next city in the hope of finding karaoke along the way. I have also decided, after a phone call from a friend called Ray (in Brisbane), that the Great Ocean Road is the prettiest way to get to Adelaide.

It's a bit early to be calling venues, and the W2S listings don't look hopeful for a Friday night singing spot between Melbourne and Adelaide, so I decide to get a couple of hours' driving under my belt before seeking out a destination.

But it's really only a short time before I reach Geelong, and it turns out to be a surprising place, because I had expected a dirty industrial town, but instead found a vibrant community with wide streets and some excellent shopping centres. I stop for something to eat, and to get my first taste of sunshine for a few days, and struggle to find an Internet cafe. After being given some wrong directions, I finally discover two very close to each other, one populated by teenagers and without a spare terminal, but the other a definitely upmarket place with LCD screens and excellent coffee. It's a great place in which to sit and search for a place for karaoke tonight, and although I can see a couple for Geelong on Fridays, I'd rather get a little further east and find something out of the main cities. I take the opportunity to call and confirm a few venues, but still can't find a definite for tonight, so I finish up my coffee, pay the surprisingly small bill, and rediscover the car.

By lunchtime I'm driving on fairly deserted roads, but still in the rain, and by mid afternoon I'm still driving in the rain but along the Victorian coastline - and where, if the weather had been better, I would have been able to marvel at the dozen or so huge rocks for which the Great Ocean Road is famous. Indeed, I do stop and momentarily consider walking to some 'lookout' in order to satisfy my tourist need, but commonsense prevails after a few steps in the howling wind and rain, and I drive on. I satisfy my maritime desires with fish and chips - excellent fish and chips in fact, from a delightful little town along the way.

Adelaide's still a long way off, and there must be something along the way on a Friday night, so I stop and check the where2sing.com listings. Nothing. Saturdays, yes. Fridays, no. So I start phoning around. The hopefuls in my database are all disappointing. These are small towns, where karaoke runs infrequently, it seems, and I'm having no luck. I'm fast thinking I'm going to have to either make the extended drive into Adelaide tonight and perhaps catch the last hour or so of some city karaoke, or do without music tonight.

But then I see a host listed for one of the towns I'd been unsucessfully calling, and I give her a call. She's obviously busy in some daytime job, but after putting me on hold for a minute, comes back with a suggestion that I try Portland RSL - she's sure there's something on there tonight. I call, and there is. I'm told it starts at 8:30.

Portland turns out to be 'Victoria's birthplace', or so the sign at the edge of the town tells me. It's a small coastal town, nothing special but nice enough, and the RSL is slightly out of the main area. I find the RSL, then work back towards town, selecting the first motel that I find. It's pretty close to the 8:30 start of karaoke, so it's just a quick shower and a bite to eat before heading back to the club.

Portland RSL is perched on the side of a hill, and looks as though it's a temporary building, but the sign on the side says it's been there since 1935 or so. As I walk into the building, a friendly lady greets me. She disappears, but when I find myself in front of the bar, she re-appears and serves me. Is she the only one working here, I wonder? No, she says, there are others, and she looks around - but there's no one else obviously working there, She's busy, and moves on.

The wait for karaoke is long, and the DJ fools us with several half-hearted attempts at running karaoke. It's late, and much of the audience has gone by the time that karaoke does start - but the few left are enthustiasts (albeit that they would prefer rock'n'roll dancing instead). The quality of singing is not great, and I get the impression from what they tell me that I would need to find one of the pub venues, rather than an RSL, in order to find better singers. But this is going to be my only night in the area, and having found karaoke, I'm not inclined to leave.

Read more singers' stories, and write your own karaoke story, on Where2sing.com . . .

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