David Goldsmith has seen Rod in the UK and more recently at The Rod Laver Arena and Las Vegas but Saturday’s Rod concert at Hanging Rock in Victoria on Rod's Australian tour will be a mixture of joy, relief and inspiration for the Ballarat dentist.
On March 13, Dr Goldsmith took solace listening to Rod's music as he bunkered down in a Vanuatu hotel while Category 5 cyclone Pam bore down on his hotel, here David tells SMILER his amazing story...
I am pleased to hear Rod touched down here OK and hope he can enjoy some free time in Aussie between concerts.
I'm getting back into routine now after my flight home in a C17 courtesy of the the Royal Australian Airforce - that was an adventure in itself !
But back to the beginning - I was in Vanuatu for a meeting (called a Storian in Bislama language) of Oral Health volunteers and professionals There is a huge need for help in this area but Vanuatu is understaffed and we were hoping to come up with a useful and more co-ordinated response
Vanuatu is very poor and outside the capital Port Vila most native NiVans are subsistence farmers so there is little spare cash left over for healthcare, This is the first time such a Storian had been planned so I felt it was important to attend, even though I had been warned of the cyclone and advised not to go.
I arrived in Vanuatu on the Wednesday evening and the Storian started on the Thursday morning with great fanfare - native dancers dancing and singing with wooden spears and we were garlanded with flower leis, However we did not get past lunchtime The cyclone - a category 5 , the highest level there is, was moving closer, So the meeting was cancelled to allow the islanders to get home and be with their families, and the owners of the building needed to board up all the windows however everywhere was still calm and no sign of wind.
The eye of the Cyclone was expected at 11 am Friday,
However 11 am came and all was still calm - the cyclone had slowed down and started to move in our direction this was bad news as the slower it moves the more it picks up energy as well as being more destructive.
By 3 pm the wind was starting to pick up so we all retreated to our hotel rooms and made ourselves secure, It got windier and louder as early evening came and the TV, then all telephone and other communication progressively went down and finally all power went off (and it was thus for the next two days)So I lit candles.
Then at about 11pm the noise suddenly ratcheted up several levels. The noise was like standing next to a passenger jet airline engine at take off winds hit over 300klm/hr and the rain was coming horizontally. No thought of looking outside and I was quite concerned the windows and door would blow down, Water was being squeezed around the door and it was a constant battle to pack towels around the door to mop up the
water and squeeze them out into the shower (this was to be the only dry part of the room later!
On your own it is not much fun listening to the howling wind and all the flying metal and tree branches crashing into the building and wondering if the doors, windows, roof will hold That’s when I got out my powerful Bluetooth speakers, switched on my mobile phone, turned everything up full blast an that’s where Rod’s Greatest Hits made a huge difference! Not sure which was my favourite track – Tonight’s the Night? I was only Joking? I don’t want to talk about it? or maybe Sailing!.. Pleased I was not Sailing – the next morning there were many very expensive looking yachts piled up on the sea wall on top of one another with their bewildered and shaken owners looking on. I kept the music going for 4 hours whilst the water in my room gradually filled up to a level of a couple of inches – this in spite of the sheets, blankets, curtains and towels trying to slow down the flood coming in, At that stage my idea of sleeping on the floor under the mattress (the safest place to be) had to be abandoned, Anyway eventually between about 4 and 5 am it started to show signs of slowing down – the eye had passed and the wind completely changed direction at about 2 am (sending water pouring into the room from the other direction!) So I survived OK but in the candlelight that music really,really helped
The airport was badly damaged-= no power, radar,navigation, processing facilies etc. But just as I was ready to venture to the airport to suss out the situation there, a lovely lady from the AHC said “we have a driver outside who will take you to the airport and we are putting you on a Military plane home, I said Thank you very much!! – this was all arranged without my knowledge or involvement and I was impressed, Along with 200+ other Australians and others I was given VIP treatment and flown back to Brisbane in a RAAF C17 Globemaster Not many people get the opportunity of a free flight home in one of those babys!!
When I got back home the local ABC radio station picked up on this and in an interview they also mentioned the Rod Stewart music, At the conclusion of the interview they granted me a music request and now I was safely home I chose “Sailing” – I felt the words were quite poignant The radio presenter Nicole Trevastic agreed and put a call out for listeners to call in and nominate a song that got them through a difficult situation and there were lots of callers
Well that’s my story, Sorry I have gone on a bit! Hope I have not bored you too much But it is something that will stay with me for a long time, Now I am looking at ways to help the poor people of Vanuatu who are suffering an unprecedented national disaster with 2/3 of the population affected, the worst disaster to ever strike this part of the world
I am looking forward to the Rod concert on Saturday at Hanging Rock...Weather forecast is promising
Cheers and Best Wishes for a great Australian tour