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?
A language work-out through time and space and alternate universes (and only two and a half hours from Sydney!).
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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Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.
Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language
Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.