After Pat Carrick graduated high school in Melbourne, Australia, the city where he was born and raised, he spent his twenties pursuing his love of music. He was involved with a number of projects as a drummer, his main instrument, although he can also wail on guitar. Melbourne is Australia’s undisputed cultural capital. There is live music on every corner and the competition is fierce for bands to get on stage to prove their wares.
The tireless amount of work and effort was beginning to pay off as Carrick approached the latter half of his twenties. He was in a band with viable commercial appeal. Studio time was booked, plans were being made. But unfortunately for Carrick, the lead singer and frontman for the band developed substance abuse issues. “He was acting like a rock star before becoming one,” Pat says. He and his bandmates couldn’t rely on him to show up on time, rehearse, or help write new songs. Eventually, the band fell apart. It was a difficult experience for Carrick to live through. Change was on the horizon — changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.
Carrick has an impressive network. Through friends and acquaintances, he’s worked his way around the world. After taking a break from Melbourne’s music scene, his first destination was to work in food and beverage at a luxury resort on Lizard Island— an idyllic tropical paradise in the Great Barrier Reef. “Travel has always been a big part of my life,” he says. His parents took him around the world when he was a kid. In his twenties and thirties, he wanted to have as many unique adventures as possible.
After a year of working in a tropical paradise, he was ready for a change again. “I eventually got tired of the same perfect weather every day,” Carrick says, laughing. “I thought to myself, what is the exact opposite of this environment? Snow!” Snow, of course, falls in many places around the world. So where would his next destination be? “I got to know lots of Canadians in Melbourne. I could tell we shared lots of the same sensibilities toward life.” Canada, it was decided, became Pat’s next stop.
Before Canada however, Carrick took a quick jaunt through the United States, visiting friends in Minneapolis and taking in American culture. One of the United States’ signature cultural exports to the world is movies. “I remember going to bars in Minnesota and just enjoying hearing the way Americans spoke,” he says. To visit America as an adult (he had been to California already a couple of times in his youth), was a different experience.
Next came brief stays in Toronto and Montreal. By then, summer was coming to an end. “And it was getting cold. I’d never experienced a Canadian winter.” After flying across the country to Vancouver and then taking a Greyhound to Banff, Carrick initially thought that finally, he’d arrived at a place to stay through the winter. “But all I found were Australians. I couldn’t believe how many were in Banff!” Banff felt decidedly unadventurous. “It felt as if Australia got cold,” he says laughing.
A high school acquaintance living in Panorama saw, through social media, that Carrick was in Banff. “He reached out to me and suggested I come check out Panorama. I’d never heard of the place and that was exactly why I decided to go there.” Back on a Greyhound Carrick went, arriving at Tim Hortons in the middle of the night.
After a rather expensive taxi ride up from Tim Hortons to Panorama, he’d arrived. “I loved Panorama. This was the adventure I was seeking. Everyone was in the same boat of not knowing anyone.” His first job was working food and beverage at Chopper’s Landing. One of his highlights was the weekly jam night hosted by future bandmate Oso Simple in the T-Bar. “Those jam nights reignited my love for music,” Carrick said. “It was the first time in a long time I started working on original songs and performing them.”
After that first winter, he decided to stay and experience a Columbia Valley summer. “I just assumed winter was the best season for living here, but that summer changed my mind,” he says. It was at the end of that first summer he also met Gwyn. “I was really curious to get to know her more. She was someone I’d been looking for.” Pat would’ve stayed for another winter, but he’d already signed a seven-month contract to play music on a cruise ship. “We kept in touch though and when the contract was over, I came back.”
To Carrick, the Columbia Valley offered a better way of life. “I’m proud to be from Melbourne, but I’m happy to not be in the urban, head-down rat race.” The amount of encouragement he received for his music, the number of gigs he was able to book, the joy he found in playing with Oso Simple and Fraser Smith (fellow members of the Small Town Dirtbags), it became clear to Carrick, world traveller, that he’d found his home.
In 2020, partners Pat and Gwyn welcomed their first child together— Lucas.
James Rose, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer