Tired of the same old family festivals in your neck of the woods? Over-priced organic food and bric a brac you'll never use?
Well, I'm delighted to share news of Sydney's most original new festival. I can almost guarantee you won't have visited anything quite like it before and most importantly, it's a culturally-rich experience for school-aged kids.
Portrait of Ned Kelly, Australia's iconic bushranger c/o- Ku-ring-gai Council's Bushranger Festival webpage
Local council is marketing this innovative historical event as 'an afternoon of outlaws and villains.' For a nation of convicts and colonials, what could be more fun?
We've all heard (and perhaps even been to) a medieval fair but how often do we have the chance to celebrate Australiana and our history?
Highlights of the afternoon festival will include bush poetry (a dying art), a bush band and a performance of the play Matilda Fish and the Bushranger, written by the accomplished Wendy Blaxland of Blaxland and Daughter Productions. And if you have a confident young public speaker on your hands, they may even like to recite their own poem in the Poetry Slam competition.
Image of Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Gardens c/o- Ku-ring-gai Council website
I'm not sporty and I can honestly say I would have loved being taken to something like this as a child. This one's certainly for the history and culture buffs.
And as a theatre lover, returning to Matilda Fish and the Bushranger, it's worth noting that the Wildflower Gardens is just the kind of setting where this real-life story took place in the 1820s. As with many brave women of history, I'd never heard of Matilda Fish but Blaxland has given her new life in this thrilling tale.
Matilda Fish was held up twice by bushranger William Geary, whose remarkable life saw six escapes from gaol and ignoble adventures with his gang of rogues. The play tells of Matilda Fish's struggles to survive with her four small children in a North Shore that was not always the desirable locale it is today. Where will our sympathies end up lying? With the victim, or the bushranger, a breed that has always held a questionable respect in the hearts and minds of Australians?
Publicity image from "Matilda Fish and the Bushranger" c/o- Blaxland and Daughter Productions website
So, if you're looking for a weekend family outing in the burbs but you're broke after an expensive Easter holiday season, the good news is that the Bushranger Festival is free to attend, thanks to the support of Ku-ring-gai Council and the generosity of the programme curators and performers. Let's hope this becomes an annual celebration.