This is one of my very first images from when I started taking photography seriously. It was taken on a Panasonic FZ250. Not a bad zoom for a little camera! I was at least 1 km away on the other side of the Habour at Lady Macquarie’s Chair in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. I don’t have any details on the settings.
The Royal Easter Show is THE biggest event in Australia. Held at Sydney Olympic Stadium over 12 days and with an average of over 850,000 tickets sold, it hums with activity. The show is run by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, and the first show was held in 1823. The RAS’ charter is to support the farmers by acting as
“… a not-for-profit organisation, …committed to supporting agricultural development and rural communities in Australia by generating revenue through its businesses which is ploughed back into agriculture.”
Over the years it has changed and, of course, become more commercial. Show bags used to be called sample bags and were free. These days you have to pay a pretty penny for a bag full of plastic junk.
Despite this, the essence has remained the same. “The Royal” is the culmination of local and district agricultural shows which happen at various times throughout the year in country towns around NSW (and Australia). Farmers bring their best chickens, pigs and cattle to show, while others cook and vie for the title of best fruit cake. Old crafts such as knitting, crochet and leather carving are appreciated and kept alive by healthy competition.
In the various arena and pavillions, we city folk can watch tent pegging, show jumping, rodeo, dog and cat shows, and feel connected to those who provide our food.
In sideshow alley kids of all ages can ride on the giant Ferris wheel, the giant slide and the other noisy rides that throw them in the air in an eruption of squeals and shrieks.
I’m not sure how often I have been to the Show, perhaps 10? I remember going with my mum on Good Fridays because it meant the crowd would be smaller as people observed that public holiday more piously 50 years ago. In those days, it was held at the Showgrounds in Moore Park, and we needed to catch two trains and a bus to get there.
I’ve been to the show three times in the last 6 years. It’s an excellent place for a photo safari and while I don’t look at everything I stick to the less commerical areas but make sure I check out the chickens!
The collages below show some of my shots from this year.
Junior Judges being judged judging sheep….
A little of sideshow alley
Tomorrow (23/4/19) is the last day for the 2019 show. It’s Children’s Day and there are special offers. If you are visiting Sydney in 2020, I’d recommend you add it to the calendar of events. The glorious autumn weather and the feel good vibe, are bound to impress.
I like to go on “photo safaris”. A photo safari is a planned excursion whose express purpose is to take photos, as opposed to me just taking photos of the place I happen to be at.
I ventured out on February the 1st to get some photos of the opening of Sydney’s Lunar Festival. The week leading up to the opening had been sunny, humid and fiercely hot. Typical Australian summer weather. And typically Australian, on Friday there was a “southerly”; a blustery cool change that brings rain, and thankfully, relief.
It did however rain on the lunar parade.
I was not prepared for rain. I had to buy a rain poncho but this did little to protect my camera. I had to call it quits before the planned fireworks because I was worried it was getting too wet.
I got an email from Korean Airlines to tell me my flight the next day was going to be delayed by two hours. It was nice that they let me know. It was late on Boxing Day – a public holiday in Australia. Even though I knew the limo company would be closed, I sent them an email “just in case” to try and change the time of my airport transfer pick up. Thankfully, they got back to me and we agreed on a new time. Then I got another email from KAL to say the flight was going to be another two hours late. I didn’t want to muck the limo people around with another change so I just resigned myself to the fact that I would be at the airport SUPER early! My pick up would be eight hours before the flight. The transfer company has a policy of getting you to the airport 3 hours ahead of time because of the vagaries of Sydney traffic. It normally takes an hour to get to the airport and then check in, immigration clearance and the security check might use up another hour. I was looking at 6 hours to waste airside before boarding. Sigh!
I stepped out of the minibus and sniffed the air. I love that first whiff of AvGas when you are close to the airport. Apart from the fact you have suitcases in tow, and a passport in your hand, it’s proof you are going somewhere. The heady kerosene-like odour that tells you the tarmac and turbulence are not too far away.
The second clue you are travelling is the queue. As a seasoned traveller (LOL) I sometimes get impatient in these queues and run an internal commentary. Come on people!! You know you need photo ID to get your boarding pass. Get it out of your wallet before you get to the counter.You’ve just been standing in a line for the last 30 minutes watching everyone else hand over their ID. We could be saving about 50 seconds per transaction here if people were ready. What? Repacking your bags NOW? FFS you had all morning to weigh them.
Breathe Robyn! Breathe! You are going on holidays! Just grab a coffee, sit back and watch the people go by.
The first person to catch my attention is a ¾ age man (you know – older than middle age but not yet old) in his hipster aqua shorts with pineapple print. Then a Russian (judging by the language – Baltic at least) with the close to pornographic photo of two women being ….ah…. friendly… on the front of his t-shirt. I wonder how he got through immigration with that on? The brash, very well dressed Yanks float past in their matching boat shoes, white fedoras and navy jackets. No doubt on their way to the first class lounge. The mums with toddlers asleep on their shoulders trying to kick their bags along. They’ve invented trolleys love… I think to myself.
All this, backgrounded by Mariah Carey singing Christmas carols.
I move on, walk around for a while and then get another coffee. I am waiting for my phone to recharge after plugging in to one of the new charging stations that are everywhere in the airport now. No need to sit on the floor and unplug the drinks machine these days. I quickly switch back into people-watching mode. A young woman in front of me is talking on her phone, wearing earphones, her free hands are waving wildly in their air. Whoever is on the other end is clearly keeping her amused and she laughs and giggles. So sweet to watch. The young fellow to the right of me is using his phone as a mirror and is picking his zits…Ewwwwwww.
My phone has 2% to full charge and I still have three more hours to wait.
I listen to the announcements and wonder what happens to those who are called out as the last people to board? They must have checked in? Did they change their mind and decide not to go? Was there some sort of family tragedy which kept them from flying out? Where they in the car accident that had caused the traffic jam 5 km out of the airport?
More people watching!
There are two African-American guys standing in the line at McDonalds. One has a big guitar like keyboard around his neck and the other has big gold chains, short spiky dreadlocks and gold reflective sunglasses on. They look like they should be famous. Perhaps they are just wankers. A Muslim man walks past with 4 daughters – so many weddings to pay for!
At noon I decide it’s close enough to beer o’clock and buy a glass of wine which turns into two and hallelujah – it’s time to board.
All in all, the waste of time was productive. I wrote three blog posts. Researched part of a family history I wanted to write and made up character arcs for some of the interesting people who have walked by. Who knows, perhaps I even featured in another bored traveller’s diary.
Once again I was standing in a snake-y queue. This time in Sydney, waiting to board the American Express SkyTrain at Taronga Park Zoo as part of Vivid, Sydney. It would take ten to fifteen minutes to get to the front to the line. The family ahead of me was having a great time.
“Ok one… two.. three… say Yoni has smelly underpants” the young man said to the two boys in matching beanies. They giggled and smiled and the young man snapped away with his phone. I turned around and realized, too late, that I was photobombing their family moment.
“You photobombed our family photo!” the young man exclaimed in a theatrical style. He showed me the screen and there I was in the middle of everything. We bantered back and forward.
“Well since you are going to be on our fridge, what’s your name?
“Robyn – and since you are going to be in my blog – what’s yours?”
“Ahhh ….the one with the smelly undies”
“Yes that’s me!”
As we twisted around another loop he asked “So what do you blog about?”
“Travel, mostly and …and stuff like this” as I waved my hand over his family.
“So you’re a writer then?”
“Mostly a photographer… but I want to write. I’m a teacher.”
“Teachers are awesome. Our mum’s a teacher” Yoni said.
So it’s Uncle Yoni I thought. Finally, we got to the top of the queue. I said goodbye and giggled to myself. Yoni and the smelly underpants.
The cable car door closed behind me and I was launched into the blackness and then the lights started.
The lights of Vivid…
Australia, land of beaches and sunshine. Hot sun …babes in bikinis… beer in the sun.
That’s the image that comes to mind, even as locals. It’s not always beach weather and we do in fact, have a winter. Compared to the Northern Hemisphere, it’s not much of a winter, but heh… sometimes it can get as cold as 6oC in Sydney! That’s COLD! Tourists come in droves in the summer to sit on our sandy beaches, slap shrimp on the barbie and enjoy our great outdoors but their numbers drop in our winter.
This is (apparently) a marketing tragedy.
Back in 2009, the NSW government decided to try capture more of the winter tourist market. They created Vivid – a winter festival. It started small in the area round Circular Quay. It’s now a huge success. Locals and tourists flock to Vivid in the last weeks of May and early June. In 2017, over 2 million people visited Vivid!
Vivid is now an interactive collection of light, music and ideas. Over the years it has spread out to include more and more of Sydney, Darling Harbour, Walsh Bay and the Zoo. You can find more information here www.vividsydney.com/
The highlights include the images cast up on the Sydney Opera House and Customs House as well as the lights on Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Zoo Light Walk is amazing! The ferry ride across the Harbour gives you a great view of the skyline and all its brilliance. I might be a bit biased, but an already beautiful harbour comes to life during Vivid. Sparkling cold water, bright lights and friendly crowds all enjoying a mystical musical wonderland. While Vivid is over for another year, make sure sure you pencil it in for 2019, just pack a beanie and a scarf.
PS: Yoni, I hope you enjoyed Vivid with your nephews! Good luck in your life. Stay fun! Stay friendly! You gave this old chook something to smile about! If you ever read this please, share my photobombing snap in the comments!