In the late 1990s, with my three children at primary school, I formed a bush band with my daughters — one daughter in particular — and other kids at the East Launceston Primary School. Then the children grew up and went to high school. They don’t have much to do with parents after that, as we all know. So I had this acoustic guitar and a number of bush songs that I’d started singing. And I thought, what am I going to do with this? You can’t just practise bush songs in a back room. You have to have a reason. So I thought, maybe busking? I started standing on a street corner in central Launceston, raising money. It gave me a reason to practise, it gave me a reason to learn songs and it gave me a reason to get better. Because if you’re going to force yourself onto people on a street corner somewhere, I think you have a responsibility to know your songs, to be able to play your instruments well and to sing in tune. I started that back in the early 2000s, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Two years ago, my eldest daughter said, ‘Dad, I’m going to Africa, but my travel companion has had to opt out. Why don’t you come with me?’ It turned out that when I signed up, that part of ‘going to Africa’ included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania. And I thought, okay, maybe I can do something with this. So I turned that part of the Africa trip into an attempt to do the world’s highest busk. I did that and recorded it all. The song I sang at the top was Waltzing Matilda — with 70% oxygen, after climbing 5900 metres over a couple of days. Is that the last chapter? Well, a few months ago, my daughter and I agreed to go to Mount Everest Base Camp. Everest Base Camp is just 100 metres or so lower than Mount Kilimanjaro. I’m pondering whether to take my guitar and do what would be the world’s second-highest busk.

Dr Andrew Jackson
Launceston, Tas