A (possibly unneeded) confession: I’m a nerd. Amongst other geeky matters, I dig steampunk goggles and monocles, superheroes, penny-farthings, blacksmith-wrought sculptures, jousting medieval knights, chair-wielding pro-wrestlers, runic scrabble, exploding World War Two tanks, hula-hooping mermaids, gypsy caravans, bear-helmeted Roman gladiators, mock-executioners, and, or course, a good Tardis (or two).

But where to see all these things in one place?


Ironfest 2016.

A language work-out through time and space and alternate universes (and only two and a half hours from Sydney!).


Lithgow Showground.


16-17 April 2016 (Ironfest is an annual event in April).


$90 family day pass (food extra). At first blush, it seemed a bit steep. But, on review, we spent about seven hours talking about the sights, sounds and smells, which meant about $3.25 per person, per hour. Not bad!

What the kids and adults chatted about (language concepts highlights)

Lithgow: mountains and valleys. Miners and commodity booms and busts. Tough times and resilience. Local communities working together to put on events. Excellent car park attendants and ticket-sellers.

Acrobats: balancing dingo traps, fire-eating, juggling. The pros and cons of running off to join the circus. The “giving economy” and the challenges of busking.

Blacksmithing: bellows, anvils, craftsmen, guilds, white and red heat, coal, oxidisation and rust.

Pro-Wrestling: real and make-believe. Villains and heroes. Tapping out. Tag-teaming. Walking the walk.

Horsey paddock: how soft the kids of today (and their parents) are when assailed by the authentic stench of medieval conditions.

Steampunk: brass and iron, cogs, alternative histories, the Victorian era, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, dirigibles, bustles, corsets, penny-farthings, steam engines, Watts, three-piece suits, steamrollers, bowler and pith hats, muskets.

Exploding tank show: sonic booms, live and blank ammunition, ordnance and mortar fire, War as a driver of technological change (e.g. with tank design benefiting car design). The Allies and Axis powers, permanent hearing loss (tip: bring ear protection), shell shock, squalor, waste, the inevitability of human conflict, winners writing the history books, fighting for values, bittersweet victories, lost generations.


Bouncing superheroes on stilts: the joys of jumping around a sunny paddock without caring about what other people think.

Knights and swords: armour and gauntlets, swords and shields. Chivalry and honour codes. Life expectancy in the Middle Ages. The Black Death.


Performance art: acrobatic meerkats and a hula-hooping mermaid.

Star Wars: R2D2, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Stormtroopers, lightsabers, the Force.

Mock execution: when to use “hung” versus “hanged”. The meaning of “drawn and quartered”. Gallows humour.

Birds of Prey: Peregrine Falcons as the fastest living creature on earth and a status symbol (the medieval equivalent of a sports car). The etymology of “mantle” and “codger” (both falcon-related, apparently). Taboos against owls. Disobedient Kites and boastful Hawks.

Upcoming local festivals for fellow nerd families (see you there!)

(1) Supernova Sydney, Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, 17-19 June 2016.

(2) Winterfest Sydney Medieval Fair,The Old Kings’ School Parade Ground, Parramatta, 2-3 July 2016.

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Banter Speech & Language Banter Speech & Language
Banter Speech & Language is an independent firm of speech pathologists for adults and children. We help clients in our local area, including Concord, Rhodes, Strathfield and all other suburbs of Sydney’s Inner West.

Banter Speech & Language is owned and managed by David Kinnane, a Hanen- and LSVT LOUD-certified speech-language pathologist with post-graduate training in the Spalding Method for literacy, the Lidcombe and Camperdown Programs for stuttering, and Voicecraft for voice disorders. David is also a Certified PESL Instructor for accent modification.

David holds a Master of Speech Language Pathology from the University of Sydney, where he was a Dean’s Scholar. David is a Practising Member of Speech Pathology Australia and a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (CPSP).

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