The Royal Melbourne Show

2 Oct

On Sunday, we went to the Royal Melbourne Show, which is kind of like a state fair. Actually, it’s almost exactly like a state fair, only on a slightly smaller scale. There are the usual livestock and craft competitions and carnival rides and all that sort of stuff. But I hadn’t been to a state fair in many, many years, so it was fun to experience it again, Australian-style. And I took lots of photos with my new camera. (It turns out a new camera doesn’t make one a better photographer, though. Who knew?)

First we walked past a dog competition. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, but it seemed like the dog was supposed to retrieve an egg and deliver it to the handler without breaking it. He did pretty well!

dogshow

Our first official stop was the poultry pavilion, with ducks, turkeys, chickens, and lots of feather and squawking.

Some cute ducks.

A plucky rooster.

The cutest, goofiest looking chickens I have ever seen.

We wandered past a few rides, but we didn’t go on any for two reasons: 1) They are pretty expensive, and 2) after H’s bad experience at Knott’s Berry Farm where he puked his guts out, we decided any rides had the potential to ruin the day completely. I really don’t like vomit.

There were cooking demonstrations scattered throughout the show. This one was about how to prepare lamb, in the “paddock to plate” pavilion.

Plenty of activities for kids, too, including pony rides. I wanted to ride a pony, but G thought I was too big and would break the pony’s back. I don’t know why I let him get away with saying that!
And of course, there is the obligatory Ferris wheel, from which one can presumably see the non-operational Southern Star Ferris wheel, which overlooks the industrial wasteland of the Docklands area

Eventually, we started to get pretty hungry and H wanted to try these things. He liked them, I didn’t.  They were filled with some spicy beef mixture and olives, which was okay, but the crust was really dry and they were very messy to eat.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Royal Melbourne Show was the peculiar Australian tradition of “showbags”. I’ve never seen this in America, and as I understand it, it’s something unique to Australia. What are showbags, you ask? They are bags with all sorts of goodies in them, usually following some sort of theme.

For example, if you really love Skittles, you might get a Skittles showbag with a variety of different kinds of Skittles in it, or same goes for Tim Tams. Most of these bags contain junk food or cheap plastic children’s toys from China, but some of the ones geared towards adults have some useful stuff, like coupons or product samples or whatever. The bags usually cost about $10 or $20 each, depending what’s in them, but there are some that cost a bit more or less. Generally, the value of the products inside well exceeds the price you pay, so I guess a lot of people think they are getting a great deal on them.

It used to be that showbags were for the agricultural industry to showcase their latest products and get them into the hands of the public, but now it has turned into something much more commercialised. However, the showbags pavilion is definitely the most popular area of the whole showgrounds, with a massive queue just to get in and everyone packed shoulder to shoulder inside, so tight you can barely move.

Seriously. A whole pavilion for this. And it was the most crowded place in the entire showgrounds.

The queue from the back.

Halfway through the queue, thinking this better be worth it!

A selection of showbags. I got a couple from here, but it was the only counter that I could actually squeeze my way up to.

Showbags for candy and other junk food. Most of these didn’t seem like an especially good deal to me, but I guess if you’re used to paying $3 for a candy bar normally, then five for $10 seems like a steal.

Later at home, I emptied out the two I bought, so you can see what’s in some of them. I got the Women’s Health one and the Marie Claire one, both for $20 each. Aside from the magazines, they mainly just had coupons and product samples.

After fighting through the throngs in the showbag pavilion, we decided to go somewhere more civilised and ended up in the arts, crafts, and cookery pavilion, which had all kinds of things on display. Here’s a sampling:

A spinning demonstration

This was made entirely from eggshells. How cool is that?!

Our next stop was the livestock pavilion. For some reason, H really wanted to see the cows and sheep!

Baby lamb! So cute!

I just want to bury my face in their wool!!!

More babies! Squee!!!

This poor fella had hay stuck on his face that he couldn’t shake off.

We watched a cow judging competition and this one was the winner. However, after they put the sash over her, she started to have fits and tried to shake it off. I guess she didn’t like her prize!

There were all kinds of cows, from hairy ones…

…to gigantic, meaty ones…

… to white baby ones!

After seeing some cows and sheep, we figured we’d head over to the wood chop pavilion to see if there was anything going on there. Here are a few sights we passed along the way:

Daffodils are my favourite flower! I never knew they came in so many varieties before and I especially liked the white and pink ones.

Yes, the euro is indeed sliding these days… har har 😉

Fortunately, we were able to catch the end of the woodchop competition, which was pretty neat to watch. The youngest competitor (who was actually really good) was only 15!

The winner (from Victoria!) was presented with a golden axe.

We decided to leave around 5pm, having seen most of what we wanted to see. I don’t know if the Royal Melbourne Show is something I’d do every year, but maybe every other year. We definitely had a good time and it was cool to see a state fair, Australia-style. On that note, I’ll leave you with a picture of a gigantic inflatable crocodile!

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