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Special Report: TAG takes the road to an Oasis

Special Report: TAG takes the road to an Oasis
Pastors Les and Georgie Hook

Special Report: TAG takes the road to an Oasis

Australia:

Technical Audio Group’s philanthropic arm, TAG Cares, has now made several trips to remote parts of Australia to offer assistance to community projects. Most recently, the TAG team took its Allen & Heath branded #Ampervan to Boggabilla, a small town of approximately 750 people in the far north of inland New South Wales, to deliver an audio system comprising an Allen & Heath Qu-16C mixer, QSC KW153 active loudspeakers and Audio-Technica microphones, to the Oasis Centre. TAG serves as the Australian distributor for all three brands.

‘An oasis is a place where people go to be refreshed,’ explained Les Hook, who co-founded the Oasis Centre with his wife, Georgie. Both of them are pastors. ‘Travellers stop in and find shade and water and often food, and we felt that this was to be a place of refreshment for the whole community.’

The #Ampervan
The #Ampervan

The Hooks have shared their vision for Oasis Centre for more than 20 years, and after six years of construction, it has almost come to fruition. The building will serve multiple purposes. It will be a church, a community centre, and a venue for celebrations and ceremonies. It will host youth clubs, a charity shop, an after-school reading club led by Indigenous Elders, and plenty more.

Boggabilla has a majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and very few public buildings, with limited space for community gatherings. The Oasis Centre has been built thanks in large part to cash donations and pro-bono construction work. Groups from schools and churches have travelled to the town to volunteer on the project while builders have donated their free time to help with the structure and roof. A team of students and builders from the Redeemer Christian College in Sydney visited on four occasions to help out, and Ian Boardman, an electrician based in Gold Coast spent hundreds of hours creating the electrical infrastructure.

‘A few years ago, we had a chance meeting with George Mann in Bourke, which led to us helping him with an audio system install for his community project,’ said TAG director Maxwell Twartz. ‘I dropped in on George a couple of months ago and as we parted, he said, “There’s a guy called Les Hook in Boggabilla who’s sharing a similar vision and if you’ve got any spare audio he would definitely appreciate it.”’

The #Ampervan set off to pick up the equipment from Brisbane and drove 350km west to Boggabilla. TAG’s NSW sales manager James McKenna was behind the wheel once again. ‘It was great to be reunited with the #Ampervan,’ he said. ‘My last shift was Alice Springs to Darwin Springs. This is quite different territory with even bigger Kangaroos!’

McKenna and Twartz were joined by TAG volunteers Billy Armstrong and special projects engineer Michael Goodyear, who had driven up from Sydney. Together, they installed the sound setup at the Oasis Centre over the course of a weekend.

‘QSC’s KW153 is a no brainer for this type of multi-purpose space,’ explained McKenna. ‘It’s a single cabinet solution that can do anything that is thrown at it with ease. As for the mixer, rather than a simple analogue unit, we chose an Allen & Heath Qu-16C for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a pathway forward for kids who are interested in music production, be it recording or live, and secondly, we’ve set up channels to match the Audio-Technica microphones we brought, and locked down some presets. Preset one is a simple FOH church service or presentation and, regardless of the mixing tasks the Qu-16 undertakes, with the single push of a button it can always return to that.’

Michael Goodyear, James McKenna and Pastor Les Hook
Michael Goodyear, James McKenna and Pastor Les Hook

As pastors, the Hooks’ all-Indigenous congregation has fluctuated somewhat, but their connection to the community is as strong as ever. With the right people, they would eventually like to expand the Oasis Centre’s work to provide mental health services, musical events, cooking classes, vocational training and regular community dinners.

‘At times we can get up to 500 people come to Boggabilla for a funeral and there is currently nowhere we can accommodate that number,’ said Les Hook. ‘But, with overflow to the outside of the building and these wonderful speakers, we can bring dignity, togetherness and community back.’ 



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