If you weren’t there then you missed a great night. The guest of honour – Andrew ‘the Jesus of Westralia Street‘ McMillan (see below) – dragged himself from the not-so-comfortable confines of bed 6 in Ward 2B of the Royal Darwin Hospital (with a great view of the forensic lab and the car park!) to be there – as did a couple of hundred others.

Andrew McMillan - as usual surrounded by pretty women
Andrew – the Jesus of Westralia Street – McMillan (all photos by Glenn Campbell)

It was one of those hot sticky nights that only Darwin can turn on – early December, no rain for a coupla days and the air so thick you could drink it.

The Bloody Marys let rip
The Bloody Marys let rip

A very enthusiastic crowd turned up and emptied their wallets for a good cause, heard great sounds from some of the best bands in town and, a few of them at least, went away with some great new artworks.

Steve Bigaura (aka Captain Jack Sparrow) knuckles the keyboards
The Bloody Mary’s Steve Bigaura (aka Captain Jack Sparrow) knuckles the keyboards

The event – and if you live in Darwin and hadn’t heard of it then you were most likely in the McMillan’s Road cemetery or the RDH morgue – was a fundraiser for our good mate Andrew McMillan, who has spent the best (worst?) part of the last six weeks or so being shuffled between various wards in RDH.

When last I saw him a few weeks ago he was wired up like a crash-test dummy in the High Dependency Unit after spending a week or so in Intensive Care. I wasn’t alone in thinking that he might not make it out of there. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the nurses, doctors and other staff in those units – and on the wards – that made sure that Andrew would be around to give us all some more grief for a few more years yet.

Sven Larrson the official Fish-slapper for the Scaninavian Royal family - and Snapper
Sven Larrson the official Fish-slapper for the Scandinavian Royal family – and Snapper
The Royal Scandinavian fish-slapping Snapper
The Royal Scandinavian fish-slapping Snapper

I’ve done a few updates on his condition during that time (see here, here, here and here) over that time and am now pleased to report – after just coming back from RDH where he was tucking into standard RDH Sunday evening fare of baked-within-an-inch-of-its-life beef and three veg, that he is expecting to be released sometime in the next week or so.

The wonderful Tracey Bunn leading her Band of Handsome Devils
The wonderful Tracey Bunn leading her Band of Handsome Devils

The whole point of the fundraising event was to squeeze enough cash out of out our pockets to fund a nice air-conditioned, clean and comfortable apartment for Andrew for a few months till he gets back on his medical and physical feet – preferably somewhere within walking distance of his beloved Roma Bar and the RSL Club in downtown Cavanagh Street.

Andrew makes his entrance - led by Mandawuy Yunupingu
Andrew makes his entrance – led by Mandawuy Yunupingu

While Andrew – and the rest of us who have spent any time in any of his various abodes over the past thirty years or so – have more than fond memories of his bunkers – the current one is in Shepherd Street in Darwin – it is just not suitable accommodation for someone on a pretty steep rehabilitation curve for a few months – hence the search for a more suitable temporary abode.

Darwin musos – and old mates of Andrew – Tracey Bunn & Colin Holt nailed Andrew’s lifestyle at his previous bunker at Westralia Street Stuart Park in their song “Jesus of Westralia Street” which they had great fun belting out last Friday night:

Jesus of Westralia Street – Tracey Bunn/Colin Holt

Well he’s up late at night with the work light on

He’s gonna write a book but first he’s getting out his bong

He’s drinking red cask wine, smoking home grown reefer

Got the stereo on, he’s listening to Aretha

They call him Jesus of Westralia Street

Jesus of Westralia Sreet

He likes a crisp mozelle but you rarely see him eat

He’s Jesus of Westralia Street

He’s got the Bob Dylan hairstyle and the kung fu shoes

Little piles of rubble all covered in cobwebs where he keeps his ideas

He’s got the world war two junk and the newspaper clippings

A faded photo of some Germans that he met one night when he was tripping

They call him Jesus of Westralia Street

Jesus of Westralia Sreet

He likes a crisp mozelle but you rarely see him eat

He’s Jesus of Westralia Street

Slouching in his busted writers chair

Watching Catalinas flying through the air

He rakes his fingers through his greasy hair

Takes one more took and then hoists his pen

They call him Jesus of Westralia Street

Jesus of Westralia Sreet

He likes a crisp mozelle but you rarely see him eat

He’s Jesus of Westralia Street

And it looks like we managed to raise more than we’d hoped – in spades. Rough estimates of the night’s taking are that about $20 grand is in the kick – which should be more than enough to pay for the rent on a downtown place for the next few months.

Some of the artworks generously donated for the auction
Some of the artworks generously donated for the auction

A large chunk of that money came from the door, the many not-so-subtle donation tins scattered around the club and a percentage of the bar takings (a very generous gesture by Darwin’s best venue bar none, The Railway Club). But the bulk of it came from the sale of a couple of dozen magnificent artworks by local painters, printmakers, photographers, jewelers etc etc from all over the Top End and beyond.

Not-quite-the-living-Greek-God Gus Fitzgerald by Darwin artist Gary Lee
A great pic of not-quite-the-living-Greek-God-but-should-be Gus Fitzgerald by Darwin artist Gary Lee

Rob Hirst from Midnight Oil – a band that Andrew has a long connection with – threw in a swag of signed Oils memorabilia.

Shellie Morris & Leah Flanagan gave their best tunes
Shellie Morris & Leah Flanagan gave their best tunes

And if you weren’t able to make it on the night then you can still give towards this most worthy cause via the McMillan Fund established by the NT Writers’ Centre.

All up it was a great night – people came from all over the country to be there and I didn’t hear or see a grumble all night. Congratulations to the Gang of Five who organised the vent, to The Darwin Railway Club for the generous donation of the wonderful venue, to Sandra Thibodeaux and all the crew at the NT Writers’ Centre for running the McMillan Fund and more and to all the artists who gave so generously of their efforts and time to provide material for the auction.

Special kudos goes out to Anna & Kane Stewart from the Darwin Railway Club for their unstinting efforts on the night and before.

And last but not least – to all the bands and performers – The Bloody Marys, Tracey Bunn & the Band of Handsome Devils, Sven Larrson the Scandinavian Royal family’s official Fish-Slapper and Leah Flanagan & Shellie Morris.

The ABC’s Richard Margetson ran the art auction – something I’m personally thankful for because he saved me from further embarrassment after my pathetic attempt – and most of all those who came along to support our good mate and gave so generously.

Here are a few more of Glenn Campbell’s snaps of the night.

Todd Williams of the Swamp Jockeys makes a home movie
Todd Williams of the Swamp Jockeys makes a home movie
Sven Larrson and his slapped fish
Sven Larrson and his slapped fish
ABC Radio's Richard Margetson flogs off some art for a good cause
ABC Radio’s Richard Margetson flogs off some art for a good cause
Just a small part of the crowd at The Railway Club last Friday evening
Just a small part of the crowd at The Railway Club last Friday evening