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The stunning environment of sand, lakes, rock pools, and creeks that I experienced during my time on K’gari (Fraser Island) was the perfect impetus to write a piece.
Returning to the Sand is inspired by three lakes: Boomanjin, Birabeen, and Garawongera; as well as the Wun’gul sandblow and the Maheno shipwreck. The refrain in this rondo-sonata form work represents the three lakes, with the sandblow and shipwreck inspiring the first and second episodes.
The bell sound reflects the bell of the SS Maheno, a ship built in Scotland in 1905 that held the speed record for the Tasman crossing between Australia and New Zealand. It was converted to a hospital ship and was at ANZAC cove six times, carrying dead and dying soldiers during WWI.
The ship was eventually destined to be scrapped in Kobe, Japan, but some 100kms off the coast she broke free during a storm and was eventually located on the pristine sands of K’gari (Fraser Island) where she has remained since 1935. The bell hear is a tubular bell, but for Camerata’s 2019 tour a replica of the Maheno Bell was carted around Queensland for the performances of this work.
Signs of organic matter still decaying give the wreck a feeling of connection with the living. The process of deterioration is visible in the bends, the rust, the return to the sand. (From diary entry #13, March 9, 2019)
Samuel Dickenson on Returning to the Sand (2019)