My Countrytown: The New Graces – Candelo, NSW

5 October 2021 | 10:57 am | Mallory Arbour

To get to know The New Graces a little better, we’ve asked Robyn Martin what she loves about her hometown of Candelo, New South Wales.

The New Graces

The New Graces (The New Graces)

The New Graces have made a big impact since the release of their debut album, Seasons in 2020, which charted at #1 on the ARIA Australian Country Album charts and #1 on the Australian Independent Records AIR chart. This year, they attended the Tamworth Country Music Festival with a staggering four nominations for the prestigious golden guitar awards.

Hailing from the small town of Candelo on the New South Wales far south coast, The New Graces are Kate Burke, Robyn Martin and Melanie Horsnell, all seasoned identities in the Australian music scene and solo artists in their own right.

Following the success of their album, they recently recorded a trilogy of new songs, the Open Heart Sessions, recorded and mixed by multi-award-winning songwriter and producer, Shane Nicholson. Their latest single, and third of the Open Heart Sessions trilogy, Be A Hero reminds us that we don’t need to have superhuman powers (or wear our undies on the outside) to be a hero, and that, just being ourselves is the most powerful thing we can offer the world.

To get to know The New Graces a little better, we’ve asked Robyn what she loves about Candelo, NSW.

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1.     The New Graces

The three of us all knew each other from the music community, but it was this little town that really brought Melanie, Kate and I together. I had met Melanie Horsnell at Tamworth festival when she was playing a gig at the Tamworth cinema with Karl Brodie, then, one day, I drove over the Candelo bridge and there she was with a 2-year-old by her side and a baby in her arms – she had moved to town! I had seen Kate Burke with many bands on the festival circuit and, through a friend, she ended up at my wedding in the Candelo Town Hall. Next thing, she was buying a house with the best man and I was playing a gig at their wedding!

2.     Home of the oldest living culture on earth

The Yuin Nation stretches from the Victorian border almost all the way up the coast to Sydney, and Candelo is the land of the Djiranganj people of the Yuin Nation. The landscape is rich with history and on days when I feel lost, scared or my mind won’t slow down, the sun will kiss my skin and pull me back into the moment. Or the crisp air of a still winter sunrise or call of the kookaburra will remind me how good it is to be alive.

3.     Everybody knows you

I love that I can pull up at the Candelo servo and chat to Eric about the weather, then get my bread, milk and bale of lucerne at the Candelo Store and, at the checkout, with Leanne, chat about who would be a good guitar teacher for her daughter (and arrange carpooling to the lessons so we don’t have to both be acting as parent taxi’s every week!), then walk past the horse and cart display to go see Mark at the post office and pick up parcels for the in-laws. 

4.     Country living!

While walking is really good, I also really love that you can pull up right in front of wherever you want to go and park right there at the door. When I am in a walking mood, I'll wander down our driveway, wade through the creek and up to the main road, then hitch the remaining 3km into town. I love that no-one looks at me strange for being in my gumboots. In summer, there's always a pile of free zucchinis on the street somewhere, and we're all talking about recipes to use them! Sometimes there’s even chickens walking freely down the main street.

5.     Farmers, bush dances, music and markets

For a little village of 300 people, we have an astounding number of professional musicians and a steady stream of world class gigs held at the town hall. It's also not uncommon to stumble on a bush dance with a 12-piece live band and dancers aged from 3-years-old to 90-years-old on the dance floor, making arches and weaving in and out of grand chains together. There are farmers and a huge amount of practical skills, knowledge and resource and colourful markets with soaps, livestock, fresh fruit and vegetables, jewellery, rusted old tools and delicious Lebanese street food.

Keep up to date with The New Graces on their Facebook page here.

For more of our My CountryTown series, check out here.

Image: Supplied