It has been about 12 years since I’ve attended the Perth Royal Show. I used to be a regular show goer during my teenage years and early 20s and I would look forward to October each year. But then I had a few years of living overseas, followed by university, boyfriends, bars, nightclubs and just general growing up which all meant I inadvertently broke up with the Royal Show.
This year however, my 14 year old stepdaughter was on school holidays and staying with my husband and myself so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to step back into the lion’s den. Well, more like the blow-dried and primped guinea pigs den, but a den nonetheless.
I have to tell you, it was quite an interesting experience returning to the show as an adult. A proper adult in her mid 30s, not a 20 year old adult who just wants to go on ride after ride after ride as I did back in the day. This time it was less about fairy floss and more about gourmet burgers, less about lolly show bags and more about coffee and finding water and less about sideshow games and more about *gasp* pavilions. #officiallyold
As far as the actual show goes, mostly it was the same as I remember but there were a few noticeable differences. Everything was kind of tinged with a touch of modern times. There were a lot of girls in bum skimming shorts, a lot of people taking selfies and everything seemed smaller but more expensive. Welcome to the future.
So, we arrived in Claremont, paid some local lady $10 to park on her lawn, paid another $70 to enter the gate and then in a jumble of dust and primary colours we were spat out and thrust into the heart of the Royal Show. We stumbled around blindly for a while; hot dog stands, toffee apples, fairy floss, inflatable hammers, funny hats, Bintang singlets, (and that’s just what the punters were wearing!)
One thing that was exactly how I remember it though was the smell. Manure mixed with deep fried donuts mixed with sickly sweet fairy floss is an interesting combination. Nothing says ‘The Royal Show’ like poo smells and crappy food. Pardon the pun.
As we entered, my husband and step-daughter decided they wanted to be hands free so we put all the phones in my bag because clearly I am the pack-horse. However we promptly realised that this was a dumb idea because we might get separated so we divided up the phones again. In front of us was a blur of bodies and lights and colour. It was becoming apparent that we needed a plan. We put our heads together and decided on animals, lunch, pavilions, games, rides, showbags, dinner, fireworks. In that order. Bam! Nailed the show. Simples.
So first up was animals. There was a crowd gathering outside to watch some pigs jump over logs. Sounded cute but it was about 6 people deep so we gave it a miss and entered the animal tent. Bored looking dogs sat around in cages, guinea pigs with smooth, brushed fur nibbled carrots, baby chickens, baby goats, baby pigs, an alpaca. I watched the alpaca for a while, I love them for their hairstyles. They kind of remind me of drunk old men with tufts of fluffy unbrushed hair at the front of their heads. Or Donald Trump. They make me laugh. “Hi Alpaca. Thanks for the laughs.” OK, animals done! Tick.
Next up was a quick lunch in the sunshine- we chose gourmet burgers from the Merrywell tent. The Merrywell is the pub at Crown Casino, the burgers were really nice. Just quietly it would have been better with a Merrywell cocktail but that wasn’t on offer. Oh well. Lunch done.
In the distance we could see the Ferris Wheel and some slingshot thing and we could hear muffled screams. Step-daughter started to plan out her rides.
But before the vomit inducing section, next on the list was pavilions. Now, for some reason my husband loves the country and he loves learning about farm-life, his favourite TV show is Landline, (enough said) so he made a beeline for the pavilions and we followed. We looked at displays about water collection in the Goldfields, we learnt about the plight of farmers versus insects in the wheat-belt and we read about sustainable living in the south west. The 14 year old pretended to look interested.
We then stepped into the cake pavilion. Fruit cakes, sponge cakes, iced cakes. Some cakes proudly displaying the signature blue ribbon. Lots of little old ladies wearing floral dresses and aprons standing around. I smiled at them as we went by. The 14 year old struggled to pretend.
We exited the cake area and started to make our way to sideshow alley. Bizarrely there were a lot of people standing around eating corn on the cob. ‘That’s new’ I thought. Some corn guy is doing well.
We stopped to play a few games; balls in the clowns mouth, basketball, floating ducks, those weird moving money trays (which I still swear are magnetised.) We won a few random, pretty crap, soft toys and found out that to win the big toys we needed to play and win several games in a row. Another new touch. I’m sure you used to only have to play and win the one game to get the good prize.
Next up, much to step-daughters excitement was rides! We followed the spinning lights and made our way to the ride area. Screams mixed with whirring sounds mixed with spinning colours. The teenager was scanning the area. She swiftly picked out several rides. My husband quickly appointed himself chief bag holder and picture taker. Thanks a lot! It was up to me. Ok, we were up! Rides here we come.
Now, I expected inflation. Everything has gone up in the last 12 years. I remember rides costing $4 back when I was younger, $3 if you cut out those vouchers from the paper. I remember as a young teenager meticulously cutting out those vouchers with my sister as we planned our day and wrote lists of the show bags we wanted and the rides we promised each other we would go on. But I must admit I was a little surprised when rides were $10 – $12 or $20 – $25 for the really big ones. But anyway, we bought our tickets and we went on several rides that whizzed us round, tipped us up, threw us from side to side and flung us up into the air. I had fun and enjoyed the rush but I was also a bit worried. I worried about the bolts holding the thing together, I worried that my slip-on shoes were going to go flying off and I worried that my step daughter was ok (she was) and after a while I worried that I may see my Merrywell burger again. Getting older apparently involves a lot of worrying.
Having said that though, I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie and I have always loved speed and thrills so my inner child was alive and well and doing cartwheels.
Next up however, was the ride that really tipped me over the edge- the ride that I said I didn’t want to go on, the ride that I got coerced into going on. The one ride I have always hated. The Gravitron.
Basically, it’s a vomit inducing, enclosed spinning top in which you stand up inside the dome of death leaning against these padded vinyl planks and the whole thing spins so fast that you can’t move your limbs or head and your cerebral fluid gets so mixed up you don’t know which way is up and you feel like you are hurtling through the clouds. Disgusting, orange, vinyl, slightly grimy with someone else’s sweat, plastic smelling clouds where I found myself worried that my dress was going to flick up and stick that way, worried that someone was going to projectile vomit all over us, and worried that the annoying, cocky young guy who was running it was never going to make it stop.
“Ugh. Please stop” I thought as my head was forced to the side and my eyes glazed over with the image of orange vinyl spinning round and round like a bad 70’s acid trip. I wasn’t 100 % sure if I was praying for the ride to stop or praying for the annoying young guy to stop screaming into the microphone but anyway thank god it finally all stopped and step-daughter and I walked out of there like baby foals discovering our legs. “No more rides” I groaned.
“The Ghost Train!” Step daughter said eagerly. “That one won’t make you sick.” I reluctantly agreed but only if my husband came too. He reluctantly agreed as well and so we reluctantly made our way to the horror section of the show.
In some ways the ghost train resembled a swingers club. Stay with me here. By that I mean that there was a lot of banging in the dark and some creepy characters floating about in the wings. Our cart crashed through several metal doors as a tinny pre-recorded laughter track played over and over. Hideous heads of zombies, vampires and murder victims peered out at us from the walls as we crashed past. We even picked up a hitchhiker in the form of a “ghost” with a cleaning fetish who insisted on feather-dusting my head for half the journey. At one point I heard my step-daughter who was sitting with her dad in the front of our car exclaim in a shaky voice “Oh my god, someone just breathed on me!”
To which my husband replied “that was me!”
Thankfully then giggling ensued which was a godsend as I was still getting my hair dusted and was getting a little over it. Then as quick as we had entered the house of horrors we were ejected into the harsh daylight like newborn bunnies blinking in the sunshine. Some 16 year old, chewing gum eating, Bride of Frankenstein looking thing told us “Rides over, exit to ya left” and just like that we were back in the world of rainbows and lollipops. Phew. This is more my scene.
It was getting late and we all needed a breather so we headed off to source dinner and show bags. Now I daresay many people of my generation will remember the famous Bertie Beetle show bag. It was weird because no one ate Bertie Beetles at any other time of the year and truthfully they were always a little odd with the rice bubbles, but, along with the sticks and pops bag, they were always the best value at the show. For $3 or $4 you could have chocolate for a month: albeit rice bubble infused chocolate but still chocolate nonetheless. So I was pleasantly surprised when the Bertie Beetle showbag was sitting there on display for $4! Just like old times! Except it wasn’t. Because it had a measly amount of Bertie Beetles floating around inside a huge bag. It resembled a packet of chips in 2015 or the ‘Giant Sandwich’ which should be renamed the ‘Pretty Small Sandwich’ or the ‘Killer Python’ which has recently become the ‘Mildly Threatening Worm.’ Modern times strike again!
Anyway we ended up with quite a few showbags: some character bags like My Little Pony and Spiderman for some special kids in our lives. Step-daughter got the Girlfriend bag which came complete with sanitary products. Oh joy! ‘That’s new,’ I thought. She also got some lolly bags like Wizz Fizz and Starburst. Husband got confused with all the Zappos, Wizzos, Sasparellos bags that he’d never heard of so opted for a Chupa Chups bag as I think that’s the only one he recognised. (Even though I’ve never seen him eat a Chupa Chup in the whole time I’ve known him.) And I stuck with the old favourite, can’t go wrong, Freddo Frog bag.
We grabbed some dinner and settled down to watch the fireworks. They were spectacular and we sat back and ooohed and aaaahed at the colourful explosions which erupted right above our heads.
As we left the show, all sugared up and satisfied, the Step-daughter declared it her favourite day of the holiday and asked if we could please return another year.
“Promise I won’t make you go on the Gravitron again” she told me. “Maybe Dad can come on it with me next time,” she said with a cheeky grin.
“Well, in that case….” I replied… “Absolutely!” and I winked at her and grinned back.
You can check out my pics from the show below
Did you go to The Royal Show this year?
Or do you have plans to go?
What are your thoughts?