Last weekend was Easter here on this side of the world (& yours too, of course) & we got to experience a distinctly Aussie tradition … going to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.
It was actually quite an Aussie weekend. After a lovely (although neck-wrenching) surf at Avoca Beach, I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon immersed in a movie called A Town like Alice, which a co-worker kindly lent me. It’s a 5 hour TV miniseries based on the book by Nevil Shute. It’s a love story set in Malaya during WWII & Northern Queensland after the war. I remember my first introduction to the Aussie TV miniseries being the Thorn Birds (released in 1983 … yikes!). The dreamy Richard Chamberlain playing the wayward priest *sigh* to Rachel Ward’s feisty Meggie.
If anyone remembers that classic, you may also remember Bryan Brown playing the bloke Meggie ends up marrying & he turns into kind of a bad guy (through vague pre-teen recollections anyway). Well, Bryan Brown plays the hero in A Town called Alice, so I couldn’t help but be sceptical that he could win me over. Good job, Bryan (although a tad shy of dreamy, I mean, really, who could compete with a twelve-year old's memory of a hunky priest) … I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. While this soapy marathon was going on, my Brian was having a distinctly Canadian day … jamming with some Canadian musicians & then playing hockey, followed by beer.
Monday was back to Aussie again as we took the train to the Olympic grounds in Sydney. They had the Olympics here in 2000 & it’s interesting to see their legacy. It makes me wonder what sort of mark the 2010 Olympics will leave on Vancouver, hmm.
Anyway, a huge area was marked off for the Easter Show. It was similar to the PNE is some ways and very different in others. They have the rides, animal displays, dog shows, disgusting food, etc.
I mention fair food only to say … a deep-fried fist-sized lump of cheese on a stick … I really wanted it, but I knew it would make me sick … I was deeply torn. Every year I’ve gone to the PNE I’ve made myself sick on mini-donuts (sadly absent in the Sydney show) … eating food destined to give you gastric distress & technicolour dreams is supposed to be part of any fair … right!?! Apparently though, nothing in the world compares to the Minnesota State Fair where it has almost got to the point that they will deep-fry your own shoe for your eating pleasure … thanks Gayle for braving that fair & coming back intestinally intact to share the stories of deep-fried delights. Long story short, I gave the cheese on a stick a miss … I cannot help but feel a bit wistful that I will never know its charms.
Another cool thing at the show was the sheep herding display. They have dogs here called kelpies. They are like shaved border collies with rottie colours. Equal to or surpassing border collies in intensity as well. One thing they do a bit different is that they like to leap on the sheep & walk on their backs. Very serious little canines.
The best part of the show & the part we stood in the pouring rain for half an hour to see was … the diving pigs!
I was a bit unsure of what we’d actually see when we first heard about this … is someone pushing pigs into a pool of water? Hmmm … I was intrigued, if a bit horrified. It turns out that these pigs actually do seem to enjoy their jobs. The first little hammie trotted out up the ramp, minced around a bit on her tiny hooves (perhaps because of the rain) & then leapt in. She dog/pig-paddled to the other side of the pool, where she climbed out & shook herself off like a dog. She then got some treats from her trainer. The next pig was Smokey he just ran right out & threw himself into the pool with what looked a tremendous amount of glee. Really quite fascinating to watch … Here’s a picture from the Sunday Telegraph … Now, there is a porky little dude who loves to go to work every day, no!?! …