Ahh, the IGA Perth Royal Show. Every Springtime, the country comes to the city for eight whole days, bringing with it the cream of the crop from the world of agriculture. From woodchopping to pig racing, showjumping to dog shows and steam engines to the competitive world of baking… the Perth Royal Show has it all.
The Royal Agricultural Society of WA held its first annual agricultural show, the Fair and Cattle Show, way back in 1834 – to showcase the very best of WA agriculture to the city-slickers. The first show included sheep dog trials, equestrian shows and prizes for livestock – all traditional events which are still very much the focus of the show today, albeit with more of a commercial and fairground ambience.
The Perth Royal Show truly is an iconic WA event – and as a Yorkshire girl (English countryside at its best, for you Aussies), the show is without doubt one of my favourite events on the Perth calendar.
We were up bright and early to get the most out of our day there, arriving at the showgrounds for 10am. We literally hopped off the train and into the show, like eager Springtime lambs heading straight for the coffee and candy cart. I always enjoy fruit to start the day, so a toffee apple was naturally an appropriate breakfast choice in recognition of the event.
Wandering through the showgrounds, our first stop was the poultry section – the ‘cluck cluck’ of the hens and ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ of like, a hundred roosters immediately reminded me of my childhood. It was awesome. There were farm birds of every kind… roosters, hens, chicks, fluffy-footed hens, fluffy-feathered-neck hens, turkeys, geese, little ducks, big ducks, even bigger ducks. There was literally a ‘quack-quack’ here and a ‘quack-quack’ there. I did consider ‘borrowing’ a ‘First Prize’ certificate from some of the best-in-show birdies to attach to my cockie’s house (cage) at home, but I didn’t want to deprive a chook of her hard-earned bragging rights back at the hen house.
It was a natural transition to move between the world of beautified birdies to pampered pooches… The dog shows provided at least an hours entertainment – and the category for the day was for toy dogs. Everywhere you looked, little dogs of all petite breeds we being fluffed, primped and preened by their proud, dedicated and no-nonsense owners. One pomeranian was so fluffy, it literally looked like a little powderpuff on a lead. Seeing the colourful prize ribbons, rosettes and bottles of champagne displayed so proudly on the winning dogs’ kennels, and the excited chatter of phone calls to breeders with the news of wins and championships, it really struck me how proud these people were of their pooches. Over 2,000 dogs were judged at this years’ show, with many owners travelling across the country to show their beloved hounds. Participating in the Perth Royal Show was a super big deal for each and every one of them.
Down the road at the farmers market we enjoyed samples of cheese, bread and beer (now that’s my kinda farm) before enjoying a ride oh-so-high-up on the cable cars. The views while suspended 60ft above the crowds were fantastic – giving us a perfect, panoramic view of the showgrounds which seemed to stretch on forever! We disembarked on the other side, where we enjoyed a stroll down sideshow alley, before settling down for lunch (lemonade and candy-floss) to watch the woodchopping. This was an event which absolutely fascinated me last year – I’d never seen anything quite like it! Every year, wood-choppers from all over Australia come to compete at the woodchopping trials held at the show. This year, we saw trials for the under 21’s and Father and Son competitions and they didn’t disappoint! Well, who doesn’t like to see muscular men swinging their razor-sharp and polished choppers with such accuracy and precision?
After catching a bit of pig racing (yes, really), checking out some merino sheep and making friends with some farm animals (I know, I’m like 32, but IT’S SO MUCH FUN), we grabbed some nourishment from the dairy parlour (chocolate strawberries and chilli cheese on crackers) and made our way to the thrill-seeking fun fair for a white-knuckle ride on the big wheel.
After making friends with the old chaps at The Morsecoadians Fraternity (we sent mom a morse code message!), stocking up on showbags and mooching around the various stalls (where you can buy anything from kangaroo jerkey to a ten minute head massage), it was time to settle down for the show jumping, sheep dog trials and monster trucks – which of course wouldn’t be complete without a brass band and a candy-floss pink sunset. After freezing my tush off last year, I brought a cushion and jumper in preparation for the evening entertainment. Yep, I’m a total granny – but I was cosy (and a maybe little smug). We enjoyed a delicious baked potatoes stuffed with cheese for dinner, followed by a nutella and strawberry crepe. And maybe some (more) fudge.
Once the last of the sheep had been rounded up, and the engines of the monster trucks silenced, twilight had set in… Blankets were being wrapped around bodies and cups of Earl Grey tea were being nursed as we waited for the spectacular fireworks to begin. And they didn’t disappoint – they were as breathtaking this year as they were last year. I’m an absolute sucker for a good firework display – and really miss the November 5 celebrations back in the UK. Only licensed firework displays are allowed in Aussie-land (one rogue rocket landing in a bit of dry land could easily burn down a suburb), so this annual display definitely makes up for missing out on Bonfire Night!
Before we knew it, 11 hours has flown by and we’re back on the train home, surrounded by very tired kids engrossed in their show bags, and rather grumpy looking, short-fused parents.
All in all, another fantastic year at the Perth Royal Show. I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!
(Oh, and as for my nutritional intake: a toffee apple, a bag of Margaret River vanilla fudge, cheese and crackers, brie and bread, a couple of macarons, a bag of (signature pink) fairy floss, two gigantic cups of homemade lemonade, four chocolate dipped strawberries, a cheese and sour cream baked potato, half a box of fries and a nutella and strawberry crepe. Oh, and a Bertie Beetle. I think I just about covered off the recommended daily intake of calories, don’t you?)