When you think of Australia, you probably think of beautiful beaches, great surf spots, bouncy kangaroos, and cute koalas, but I bet most of you don’t picture sheep, pigs, hotdogs, and carousels! This is the side of Australia that no one really talks about and visitors often don’t get to experience. Once a year, Australians from every state come together to celebrate their agricultural achievements at the Royal Agricultural Shows taking place across the country.
Last week, I went to my first ever Royal Agricultural Show in Australia: the Royal Queensland Show, also known as the Ekka (short for Exhibition). The Royal Queensland Show dates back to 1876 when it was first inaugurated and created to showcase many agricultural and industrial exhibits.
Many years later, today, the show still retains its agricultural focus, with animal parades and agricultural displays occupying at least half of the pavilions at the Ekka. The Royal Queensland Show attracts over 400,000 visitors on a yearly basis. And because of it’s cultural significance, the city of Brisbane holds a Public Holiday on the 7th day of the show, referred to as “People’s Day” giving everyone a chance to experience the “Ekka”.
Arriving at The RNA Showgrounds, we quickly realized that the show attracts Australians of all ages, from families with kids to young teenagers.
There are dozens of pavilions inside the Ekka, showcasing animals, fresh food, and arts. We started off by exploring the agricultural pavilion, checking out the creative displays of produce put together by various local farmers and producers, as well as local colleges and schools.
Over at the Animal Boulevard, there were all sorts of friendly animals and exhibits: including an array of sheep, goats, and little newborn lambs.
Kids were loving spending time in the Animal Nursery, watching baby chicken hatch from eggs, along with lambs and other cute farm animals roaming around the nursery.
Outside in the community area, the owners were showing off the winners of various competitions taking place at the Royal Queensland Show. There were beautiful horses, award winning cattle and even a few lamas.
On the other side of the RNA Showgrounds, was a whole lot of other entertainment. The Sideshow Alley had rides spanning from extreme rides for the adrenaline junkies, to family rides suitable for fun with the whole family, as well as kids rides – perfect for the little ones. And of course, no Royal Show is complete without the carnival games and stuffed toys.
And if that ins’t enough to keep you entertained for hours, there is always food! One of the most famous snacks at the Royal Queensland Show is the Dagwood Dog – a deep fried sausage coated in thick cornmeal batter, known as the corn dog in North America. Of course, I had to give it a try!
I have to admit, they didn’t taste any different from the corn dogs I had in Canada. The second most famous thing to eat at the Ekka is the strawberry ice-cream. These ice-cream stands are set up all over the show. On offer a strawberry ice-cream with fresh strawberries and whipped cream!
It sounds delicious and I really was going to give it a try, but then we came across a taste of home and just couldn’t resist. The North American carnival specialty has now come to Australia!
Attending the Ekka was a truly special experience for me. It was a real insight into Australia culture and its life beyond the beaches and rainforests.
If you are visiting Australia or here on work-travel visa, attending an Agricultural Show probably isn’t on your must-do list, but perhaps it should be? There is no better way to immerse yourself into the local culture than to spend a day at an event that many Australians look forward to for the entire year!
Royal Brisbane Show has now come to an end, but if you want to get a taste for these yourself, there are plenty other similar shows around the country. Check out some of the following:
Royal Adelaide Show – Sept 5 – Sept 14, 2014
Perth Royal Show – Sept 27 – Oct 4, 2014
Royal Melbourne Show – Sept 20 – Oct 1, 2014
Royal Canberra Show – Feb 27 – Mar 1, 2015
The Sydney Royal Easter Show – March 28, April 8, 2015