Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sydney Royal Easter Show (30th March 2013)

Easter long weekends are usually spent on a short holiday somewhere but this year, Jono and I have decided to stay back in Sydney since we've only just returned from our honeymoon in Bali the weekend prior. One of the things we have not yet done as Sydneysiders is to go to the much talked about Sydney Royal Easter Show (aka The Show), Australia's largest annual event held in Sydney attracting over 900,000 people each year over two weeks during the Easter period. Agricultural competitions including judging of livestock and produce, animal patting and rides, amusement park and fair are some of the highlights of The Show. Sounds a bit cheesy to go to such an event but you aren't a true Sydneysider if you've not been!

The Show this year runs from the 21st of March till 3rd of April and is held in Sydney Olympic Park. Unlike most events where you need to buy tickets well ahead of time, you can buy tickets on the day on arrival, purchase it at the train station or online. We went for the online option and got ourselves an Adult ShowLink ticket each (cost $35.60 which includes entry and return public transport to and from The Show) - save 10% on tickets plus we get to avoid queues. Additionally, since the online tickets are not issued for a specific date, we could pretty much use it for any day during The Show period. Pretty neat, huh?

I tried rounding up a bunch a friends to come along to The Show but most have other plans so it was just Ken and us. Ken came to Newtown to meet up for breakfast and around 10am, us three headed off to Newtown train station and caught the train to Olympic Park station. It was a sunny day but thankfully not too hot for our day out and about :)

It was just after 11am when we arrived and as we entered the showground, it felt like we were heading to a huge fair - colourful and quirky stalls line the streets selling all sorts of things from food and drinks to balloons, showbags and other random knick-knacks. I felt like a kid again, excited by the sights, sounds, smells and even crowd! 

Entering the showground of the Sydney Royal Easter Show at Sydney Olympic Park

Now, the showbags - apparently no day at The Show is complete without a showbag and with over 300 showbags filled with goodies on offer, we were spoilt for choice! Jono got himself a Domo showbag from one of the showbag stalls for $25 which included a carry bag, beanie, headphones, keyring, stickers, small coin purse, wallet/phone case and badge. "Take a photo of me with the showbag," said Jono excitedly - he had put on his Domo beanie and badge, holding up his showbag with a cheesy grin. I can't help but laugh snapping photos of him!

Showbags are A MUST at The Show

Check out my Domo showbag!

Jono trying to be Japanese cute in his Domo beanie...

Balls, hammers, clubs - inflatables anyone?

Another attempt at the 'cute Asian' look

"Ooo, let's go check out the bilby!" I called out to the boys and we joined in the queue of people heading into the 'Save The Bilby Fund' tent. Staff from Featherdale Wildlife Park have set up inside the tent and were letting people touch/pat some of their animals including an olive python and shingle-back lizard, both of which are native to Australia. Jono urged me to touch the reptiles knowing well they creep me out. Urgh...gives me the shivers touching cold-blooded animals especially reptiles and amphibians...The python skin was cool to touch, soft and smooth, while the shingle-back lizard had heavily-armoured body (and frankly, if you didn't pay attention, you might not tell which is the head and which is the tail as they are both stumpy and similar in shape). Sadly, no patting the bilby - the keeper told us its asleep and showed us his bandaged finger (bilby bite), the result of attempting to take the marsupial out from its enclosure :/ The bilby is becoming an endangered species (the keeper went on to show us a rather disgusting photo of bilby parts gutted out from a domestic cat - yuck) so in support, we left a $5 donation in their collection box on our way out.

Staff from Featherdale Wildlife Park handling an olive python

The skin is cool to touch and so smooth...

I don't care if you're here - I'm sleeping

Check out the heavily-armoured shingle-back lizard!

Shy bilby

The showground is HUGE and honestly, I doubt we can cover all the stalls and exhibits in a day. Just around the corner of the tent, we found a travelling fish show where the presenter was showing the audience how to cast different types of fish fly, a stall selling hermit crabs as pets, couple of blokes selling magic wallets (slide your money in one of the compartments, close the wallet and when you open it again, you can't see the money), and FAIRY FLOSS! The 5-year-old in me pretty much went "Please, can we get some, please..." at Jono :P Cost $4 for a gigantic stick of fairy floss. Hehe, so happy and it tasted pretty yummy too!

Fishing Show - the presenter showing the audience to cast different fish fly

Floss Factory

Aussie Snow Wagon

Me in line at Floss Factory to buy candy floss

Hmm, the fairy floss on stick is a bit big to fit in my mouth...

Perhaps licking is easier :P

Jono and his fairy floss mo

Floss in my belly!

Fancy a hermit crab for a pet?

Super Slide at the Kids Carnival

The Skyview Wheel gives you a spectacular view of the showground

Next, we headed into World Bazaar. I ate my fairy floss as we weaved our way through the crowd browsing the various stalls indoors (think Paddy's Market but on a smaller scale). We stopped by The Chilli Factory stall to sample some of their chilli products. Did you know that they are home to the hottest chilli in the world? Certified by the Guinness World Records, the Trinidad Scorpion Chilli "Butch T" measures at a staggering 1,463,700 Scoville units of heat - just to give a bit of perspective, the Bird's Eye Chilli (known to Malaysians as 'cili padi') measures around 50,000 - 100,000 while the Mexican habanero is around 100,000 - 350,000. To sample their chilli product made with this super hot chilli, you have to request it (all other chilli sauces were available for self-serve sampling). Jono's got a pretty good handle with spicy food and decided to try it out. A tiny squirt of the sauce was provided on a cracker - I tasted only a teeny drop of sauce using my finger tip and boy was it HOT! "Here goes...," said Jono and he put the whole cracker into his mouth!! Next thing you know, he was asking for my water bottle (which thankfully I carried along) and taking big gulps, tears brimming in his eyes - I offered him some fairy floss which probably made it worse...ops...Some 10 minutes later, the heat finally subsided much to Jono's relief. Don't think he's going to try that again anytime soon!

In the World Bazaar - some rather interesting t-shirts for sale

Jono sampling the Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T" at The Chili Factory stall - measuring at staggering 1,463,700 Scoville Units of heat

This is going to be HOT...

Well here goes...ah...

We continued on and did the Animal Walk checking out the animals on site - some for entry into competitions or events while others just for demonstrations or display. There was the Sheep and Wool Pavillion (Ken kept saying how much it reminded him of home i.e. NZ), Steggles Poultry Pavilion (my, the number of poultry on display - I didn't even know there were so many chicken breeds!), Pig & Goat Pavillion, some other pavillion that housed well-groomed dairy cows (seriously, the owners were trimming and brushing their cows), another pavillion just stables for horses, and the Alpaca Pavillion (we cringed watching a young girl patiently try to guide her uncooperative alpaca through the obstacle course and failing every one that required the alpaca to walk up a step). With so many animals under one roof, it's no wonder that they are the heart and soul of The Show :)

Ram inside the Sheep and Wool Pavilion

More sheep with wool sheared and baby lambs

Toulouse geese in the Steggles Poultry Pavilion

Cute little fluffy chicks!

Why are there so many people checking us out?

The poultry exhibit is pretty impressive with breeds I've never even seens before like this fella

Fat chicken

Silkie, a breed of chicken with fluffy plumage which is said to feel like silk

White Silkie rooster

Goose

That's a pretty huge drake!

Eggs from the various breeds of chicken

Boer goats at the Pig & Goat Pavilion

Apt naming - Pigs & People

Sow and piglets

Hungry little piglets

Jono feeding a cow some hay

Even cows need a rest at The Show

I'm very good-looking, I know...

Me patting a calf

Alpacas in the Alpaca Pavilion

Gorgeous black horse making friends with Jono :)

Inside the horse marshalling area where women of all ages (including young girls) are trotting on their horses

You think that after seeing (and smelling) all those animals, we probably would go vegetarian for the day but no, tummy still overrules the head and we were chowing down hot dogs for lunch standing in the shade outside one of the pavillions - Ken went for the all-American version while Jono and I shared a Kransk from Wagners German Gourmet Sausages. Yum!

View of the showground

Mmm, German sausages...

Chips on a Stick

Steam Merry-Go-Round

"Ken, look! Dino Ribs!" I pointed at the sign. Ken was telling us there was a stall at The Show that sold Dino Ribs but we've not seen it on our walk so far and couldn't find it using the search function on the mobile app earlier (ah yes, technology these days - you even have an app for The Easter Show). Finally found it! The bright yellow stall with red neon sign that says "Baby Back Pork Ribs" was where you can watch massive beef ribs and turkey legs sizzle on the grill and pick up one for $10. I guess I had pictured the Fred Flintstone's ribs but the rib and turkey leg which Ken and I got respectively were pretty huge too - I was so stuffed by the time I finished the turkey leg and that was only eating half of it (shared with Jono)!
Yes, finally tracked down the Dino Ribs stall!

At the Baby Back Pork Ribs stall to get a turkey leg

Ken with his Dino Rib and me with a turkey leg

Yum!

Me, cave woman, eat!

Ken devouring his massive beef rib to the bone

Adrenalin-lovers and thrill-seekers would be happy to know that The Show also hosts Australia's largest carnival to suit all ages. My Domo boy really wanted to go on the XXXL ride, a turbocharged ride that twists you upside down and inside out at an elevation up to 24 metres. Gulp, looks like a scary ride plus I've just had all those turkey...We took a walk around the carnival to let my tummy settle a bit (both from the meal and nerves), then Jono and I queued up to purchase 20 tokens at $22 for the ride (the XXXL ride cost 10 tokens each). Eek, we're going for it! Ken decided to pass and took care of our belongings while we shuffled through the queue to XXXL (the ride only takes 12 people max at a time) - just adds to the nervousness I already have! Restrained by over-the-shoulder harness, the ride begins with a gradual swing like a pendulum (quite relaxing actually), slowly picking up speed and eventually making a full 360 circle. Both Jono and I were screaming our lungs out when we swung down past spectators on the ground - it felt like we were going hit them! The whole ride probably took less than 10 minutes but it felt as if we were on it for a long time. Highly recommend you try it out - was good fun :)


The Rock Star ride in Coca-Cola Carnival

More exhilarating (and scary) rides - the Power Surge

This is what Jono wants to do, the XXXL - eek!

Skymaster Wheel

Spin and soar at an elevation of 35 metres on the Sky Flyer

Our golden tickets to the XXXL ride :)

Arms up for the over-the-shoulder harness to lock us in our seats

Here we go!

Uh-oh, it's going up higher...

Did we just went past the lamp post?

Jono caught on camera

Us having fun on the ride

Screaming all the way down

The carnival area is very popular making it a bit of a nightmare to get around - too many people. The Showbag Hall was located nearby, THE place to go to check out all the showbags on offer but oh my god, the line was horrendous so we decided to skip it and headed into Channel 9 Woodchop Stadium in time to witness a woodchopping relay. Teams for two men each competed in the relay starting with the underhand (log placed horizontally and the competitor stand on the log and cuts between their feet) followed by the standing block (log placed vertically and the competitor chops from both sides until log is severed). One team pulled out before the competition even started as a team member who was testing out the axe cut himself in the process. Wood chips flying, men hacking the wood with might and technique - it was impressive to watch how quickly their severe the logs.


In the Channel 9 Woodchop Stadium witnessing a relay wood-chopping competition

Looks like the Tassies are on the lead here!

By 3pm, I was starting to feel tired and my feet were getting sore from the all walking. The weather was hot and the sun still shining high in the sky. We went into the Arts & Crafts Pavillion to hide in the shade, checking out the photography and painting display while we were there. We also found displays of other craft items such as needlework, pottery, mosaic, cakes and pastries - yes, even the fruit cake competes at The Show! 


Inside the Arts & Crafts Pavillion - detail cake decorating

More cake decorating

Pottery

Even cakes and pastries are judged

A quick zip through Woolworths Fresh Food Dome and by 4pm, we hopped on train and headed home. It was a fun outing though I'm not sure we will do The Show again next year. It's one of those events where you would do it once for the experience and perhaps go again if you had visitors or young children in the family.


Saw Rajah on our way out, supposedly the biggest camel in Australia...