Stuff I see, which you might not.

The Rats and Mice Show

Every year, the Sydney Royal Easter Show is a big deal. It’s held at a huge (former Olympic) venue for a couple of weeks and bzillions of people and animals go along to experience country life – woodchopping, giant displays of fruit and vegetables, farm animals and Chiko Rolls. (If you’re not familiar with this bizarre Australian deep fried mystery, you can read more here.) There are hundreds of showbags for little kids and big kids, live music, carnival rides and all the fun of the fair.

But I’ve found a competition that I think should have top billing – I’m amazed that I never knew about it before today. I blame the marketers – too focussed on the rare breeds of alpacas and cows and dogs, instead of our smaller furry friends. The rats and mice. Yes, there is a whole competition for rodents.

Apparently, the Rat & Mouse Competition is a pet class that promotes public understanding of rats and mice within Agriculture and how we accept them in our community. Who knew that rats and mice were so misunderstood and felt so isolated in the farming community? Poor dears. For too long, they have been disregarded as pests, but really all they want is to fit in. I have images of the barn, with the ‘cool crowd’ of cows, sheep, pigs, horses and chickens chatting in the corner – then the rat and mouse come in, “Hey! Hey, guys! Over here! Yoo hoo! Guys! GUYS?” but no one will make beady eye contact.

Anyways, this competition is run by an organisation with the funniest name I’ve seen in a long time: The Australian Rodent Fanciers’ Society. Hmmmm. Bet you don’t see that listed under ‘memberships’ on many LinkedIn or online dating profiles. Sure, the name is pretty good, but it’s actually their website image that has become one of my all-time favourites. Rodents praying to a giant billboard? Sure, why not, Rodent Fanciers – it’s your Show!


Welcome to Gnomesville

It’s really tough to explain Gnomesville in Western Australia. Surely one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever been and I’m so grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for adding it to the itinerary when I visited Perth last year. Down a small side road, surrounded by bushland and farms, Gnomesville is another world. Its impossible to capture the scale of it with my limited photographic skills, but trust me when I say it covers a very large area. Just when you think you’ve passed the last gnome grotto, you’ll notice a little weather-beaten sign and yet another collection of slightly worse-for-wear little statues. There are bridges and hills creating sort of gnome-y neighbourhoods, often with their own theme and signage. And often pretty creepy.

There are more bad gnome puns than you can poke a stick at – mostly hand-painted on (sometimes quite elaborate) signs. And that’s probably what surprised me the most: the pre-meditation of Gnomesville tourism. I felt very slack turning up without a bunch of gnomes (tattooed with the names of my family) – like a vegetarian at a butcher’s BBQ or an unmanicured Kardashian, I was feeling unprepared and out of place. Clearly, people carefully plan their visits to Gnomesville – gathering their gnomes, preparing their puns, slapping up their signs and then ensuring that they find just the right part of the village to house their little friends.

And, just like anywhere else in Australia, there is a real mix of characters: from South African and Kiwi gnomes, to dodgy looking gnomes in trailers and on bikes, to a big group of scantily clad girlie gnomes, to gnomes commemorating anniversaries and births and all sorts of families. And a DJ gnome, a Doctor gnome (presumably to staff the gnome hospital, where they seem to throw all the broken pieces of gnome) and some interlopers like frogs and bears that are wannabe gnomes trying to fit into the neighbourhood.There is even a tin of Spam on display in a wooden frame attached to a tree trunk. It’s that kind of place.


So if you’re travelling around WA, it’s definitely worth stopping at Gnomesville for a unique experience of life in an alternate universe – where you are giant-sized, gnomes drive cars and run hospitals, puns abound and you start debating the relative attractiveness of little plaster statues with glasses or pointy hats. But be warned – it can get a bit overwhelming and creepy and mess with your head – so whatever you do, don’t camp there overnight. Lest you venture past the point of gnome return (dammit, see what I mean?) and become part of the madness…



Uh oh, baby

Another day, another gift idea from an online craft website. This time, my favourite Australian handmade site, Madeit. There are so many gems tucked away throughout the site, just waiting to be discovered by someone typing in the right search word. In this case, the right search word was SALE. And that was where I found this baby, dressed lovingly in exotic-looking handmade doll’s pyjamas. AND WALKING ALONG A FENCE. The pjs are from Grandma’s Goodies, though this photo makes me suspect that Grandma is a bit of a baddie and should perhaps not be allowed to babysit the grandchildren on her own. Grandma says the pjs are ‘nice and warm flannelette’ (doll comfort is important) and they feature lined lapels & collar and a velcro closure on the front. But none of this will matter if that little foot on the fence slips and Baby Alive is no more…

If you’d like to give Grandma the benefit of the doubt and check out her stuff, she’s Grandma Bear.

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Kids these days…

Some highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be) of a recent survey of Australian school children were published in the Sydney Morning Herald this week. And I still think it’s funny that more than 1/4 of the kids that they surveyed in year 6 (so, around 11 or 12 years of age) thought that yoghurt grows on trees. I blame that Willy Wonka and the edible world inside his factory. He has confused our kids into thinking that you can create trees that grow all sorts of delicious sweet things, so why wouldn’t it make sense for a tree provide us with yoghurt? (Mr Wonka has also misled kids to believe that you can import orange-skinned little people from a foreign land, dress them in overalls and have them run your factory, forcing them to sing and dance on command. And work for chocolate. If only, kids!)

Anyways, I have to go now and check on my backyard crops. I’m growing meat pies, chicken flavoured chips and cherry ice cream. And any kid knows that those ice cream plants start to melt on a sunny day like today.

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Love thy Neighbour(s)

So, a confession.  I love Neighbours. (The show, not the 90+ year old couple that live next door to me.) I know it’s not cool, especially not for kids now in their 30s. But there’s something about it that’s addictive, like a can of sour cream & onion Pringles. Maybe it’s because our mum wouldn’t let us watch it 20+ years ago when it started – in a case of bad timing (as it used to be a pretty wholesome show), she came into the room when the characters were at a disco and some kids were doing drugs while taking a break from dancing to Locomotion. And that was the end of that. But I’m allowed to watch it now and it’s come a loooong way from the innocent hijinx of Ramsay Street of old. No more do people just ‘move to Queensland’ to exit the show – now there are teenage mums getting run over by cars; streetfuls of divorces; high flying jobs in New York; family reunions in Italy; and recently someone did actually go to Queensland, but only for a holiday in Port Douglas. The artistic quality of the camera work is, like, waaaay cinematic now, with strange angles aplenty, random shots of buildings and scenery, split screens and even a magic phone feature: a little pop up to show you the creepy text message the teacher just received or the jilted lover’s call being ignored. Heavy stuff. Add to that the teachers having affairs with students; old people faking injuries to scam insurance claims; a gay teenage mechanic; high schoolers cheating on final exams; a pirate radio station (as in underground, not arrr arrr me hearties).  And then there are high schoolers organising raves & selling drugs. Hang on a minute, that rings a bell. The haircuts and fashion might be better, but methinks they’re recycling ideas from the early days…like that old crank Paul Robinson, who has been on the show since 1985. Crikey.

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Fair Juliet

Hardcore. 8 year old Juliet – an Australian treasure, from the trampoline moshpit to you…


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Here’s looking at you, Syd

Today is just one of those amazing days when you look around the harbour city and think, where else would you want to be?  After weeks – months – of unseasonal weather (cooler, wetter and much sadder than summer should be), today is just perfect.  Strong blue skies (not that wishy washy blue of nanna’s cardi, but the deep blue of – say – Jake Gyllenhall’s dreamy peepers) and warm sunshine, like Mother Nature is saying TGIF.  Weather like this makes everyone happier – as I waited for a mid-afternoon ferry, a group of Korean women in their 70s started line dancing at the wharf, sort of like a bizarro elderly Asian Billy Ray Cyrus flash mob.  Unfortunately, I was in shock at this unexpected sight and wasn’t quick enough to catch them with my camera (or my stick).    Crazy politicians, public transport iss-ews and world beating housing costs aside, so lucky to live in such a beautiful town.  Especially on a $10 postcard-pic day like today.

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