Hervey Bay Seafood Festival

Today, along with 45 million other people, I ventured along to the Hervey Bay Seafood Festival. (Yes okay…  I may be exaggerating. A little. There were only 35 million.)

I had such an amazing time at the Relish Food and Wine Festival I was quite excited by the prospect of one of the Whale Festival‘s premiere events – and it didn’t disappoint.

Of course I don’t really eat seafood, which is kind-of a bummer when you are attending a seafood festival – but in this case it didn’t matter.

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Festival admission cost $5 for adults (free for kids) and it had something for everyone with free kids’ activities as well as some jumping castles and the like. My friend’s little boy was delighted with a balloon creature wound tightly about his wrist lest it drift off into the ether.

I wasn’t sure how three stages would fit into Fishermen’s Park but it somehow worked with the main stage (very loud and very popular) along with cooking demonstrations and a smaller stage with more *ahem* refined music (at least while I was there).

dinnerThe Tastes of the Bay dinner booked out quickly and everyone I glimpsed inside the tent seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Not to be outdone, my friends and I partook in a frozen margarita drink – perfect given how bloody hot it was.

We were all Seafood Festival virgins, so unprepared for the crowds. Unlike Relish where food and drinks could be consumed anywhere, the area in which alcohol could be consumed was more limited (which was a bit of a shame) and with chairs and tables taken long before, we stood about uncomfortably to scoff our very-welcome drinks.

Without our own seating or rugs it was a bit difficult to just ‘hang around’ and the queues at most food stalls meant we decided against eating there.

We did order some wine from Kingaroy’s Crane Wines who were again popular and I’m already anticipating the arrival of some sparkling shiraz in coming days or weeks.

I’ll definitely head along to the Festival next year, although I will be more prepared (having had my Seafood Festival-going cherry popped this year). Getting in early to find  a ‘base’ or taking your own chairs / table / rugs seems sensible and would permit you to get comfortable and stay longer. Of course, booking early to get to the Tastes of the Bay lunch could also be ideal for seafood lovers.

I love that so many locals and visitors (alike) turned out to support the Festival and now eagerly await the remaining Whale Festival activities.

I hope other attendees had a fabulous time and will be back again next year!

A bit of imagination

A couple of months ago I bought into the Maryborough vs Hervey Bay debate on the Fraser Coast Chronicle’s website. I have to admit however, I can’t even remember the issue under discussion. Traditionally I avoid comments on online news sites as so often they’re full of parochial regulars who can be exceptionally nasty.

I’ve rarely commented myself. I was a government employee for yonks so didn’t feel I could back then and only now I’ve left a comment if I feel particularly chagrined or passionate (which is rare).

In my comment I said I thought it was fair that I buy into the Mbro vs Bay argument, having grown up in Maryborough (until heading off to Uni at 17 years of age) and coming back here to work in the Maryborough Council for a few years; before eventually returning to live in Hervey Bay last year.

I won’t go into my thoughts here, but… I can kinda see both sides and with a foot in each camp I understand everyone’s frustration.

Having said that, I have to admit I find it very confronting to head into the Maryborough CBD. The empty shops and lack of vibrancy is palpable. It wasn’t a thriving metropolis when I was a youngster back in the 70s and 80s, but it was ‘town’ and a place to go.

I know that many blame the advent of shopping centres for the death of the CBD itself, but I’d like to think there’s some way ‘we’ could all live in harmony.

I loved today’s piece by the Chronicle’s new Editor John Grey (recently returned after many years away), who sees Maryborough’s potential.

Like John I find the Gatakers Precinct impressive. I attended the recent Relish Food and Wine Festival and several of the Mary Poppins Festival activities. It occurs to me that there’s some life left in the old girl yet.

“Imagine this city” is the Fraser Coast Council’s initiative to give Maryboroughites and others, a chance to have a say in the town’s future. As I understand it, Council’s in the midst of developing its 2013-2018 Strategic Plan and this is YOUR / OUR opportunity to inform that process.

Check out the consultation process and downloadable survey here, or head along to the workshop this coming Wednesday in the City Hall. (Note that RSVPs are required.)

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I have worked in community development, community engagement, regional development, local government and planning services agencies and roles, but I have no answers. Others might. And, it will be interesting to know what ideas and suggestions people might actually have.

I don’t mean to be rude, but I say the same thing to my mother if / when she ever groans about stuff happening / not happening. Put up or shut up. I know that our voices are not always (or often) heeded and then there are the squeaky wheels… yadda yadda yadda; but it’s harder to complain about an outcome if you don’t even try.

I’m thinking of heading along to the session of Wednesday, so perhaps I’ll see you, or hear from you, there.

What women want

No doubt you have clicked on this post to read about that cheesy Mel Gibson / Helen Hunt movie from back in 2000 – when Mel Gibson was politically and socially acceptable and Ms Hunt* at her post Mad About You peak.

Well, I’m sorry for leading you astray as there’s nary a thought-reading bloke to be found here. As the title suggests however, I am offering up something which could be of interest to the Fraser Coast’s fairer sex.

What Women Want is actually an informal networking group for women of the Fraser Coast. I was fortunate to learn of the group’s existence just after my arrival here and it’s been a wonderful way to meet others.

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The bimonthly gatherings aren’t just for business women or professionals wanting to network – although it is ideal for that purpose. I’ve attended one session where we did share ‘who we are and what we do’ – albeit on a whale watch boat while partaking in nibbles and drinkies.

Since then we’ve met at FitPole, where those insane brave** enough to try it had a pole dancing lesson; and the most recent session was at The Holistic Hub where the dozens in attendance got to briefly try some yoga before sharing in some delicious and healthy food.

And… there’s more excitement to come as the next WWW gathering actually involves a day trip to nearby wineries. Who said business and pleasure don’t mix?!

Anyone is welcome to the WWW networking functions. Well, providing you’re female – which is the whole point I guess. The group is always looking for sponsorship or hosting venues so feel free to contact the coordinators*** via the Facebook page if you have some suggestions.

Speaking of which… I want to learn how to make rice paper / spring rolls, so think I might suggest a cooking class. Well, either that or paddle-boarding.

* What actually happened to Helen Hunt I wonder. One minute she was ‘the one to watch’ and won an Oscar and the next minute. Poof. Gonski.
** I wished I’d been brave enough to try spinning about the pole but decided my inability to lift my body weight could have been problematic!
*** I should mention that the coordinators are volunteers and do a great job.

PS. I actually found out about the group at an informal Hervey Bay business social function – also held bimonthly. There’s also a Maryborough equivalent.

Foiled by Dame Christie’s trickery?

A couple of months ago I held my breath and ventured to the local theatre only to find myself very impressed with Hervey Bay’s Z-Pac Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

In fact, the show was so remarkable I wonder if it set the bar too high for subsequent productions.

I know it’s kinda tragic but I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan – something I’ve confessed to in my Debbish blog. So, it was with great excitement that I went along to Z-Pac’s A Murder is Announced during its current season.

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

And… I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed.

Most of the cast were great, with Lorraine Lee’s Bunny, Brownwyn Bennett’s Mitzi and the younger cast the standouts.

I met Director Ken Lee at an arts event a month or so before the play and he mentioned the difficulty in translating Christie’s work for the stage. Perhaps that was partially the problem. It all seemed a little clunky to me and my friends and I agreed we were holding our breath on occasions, lest the actors forget their words or fluff their lines.

As I have a memory like a sieve and lack the confidence required to perform for an audience I have nothing but admiration for all of the cast and crew. So, while not having the panache of Z-Pac’s earlier Earnest, A Murder is Announced made for an entertaining evening out and I don’t feel the need to discount the local theatre anytime soon.

Mary Poppins. With a spoonful of sugar

My niece skipped over the obligatory Wiggles and High Five fetishes as a kid and went straight from Play School to musicals – at age 2.

Her favourite back then was Mary Poppins, or Poppins; which she tweeted cutely (in the days before Twitter when tweeting meant something else entirely).

We’ve got pictures of her at my parents’ place, drawing chalk pictures on the path; and years later I accompanied her and my SIL to a Mary Poppins Sing-a-long movie. Yes… such things do actually exist.

Her MP-fancy was kinda apt as it eventually came to light that the author of the original tale (penned in 1934), PL Travers, was actually born in Maryborough. Yes, the one on the Fraser Coast.

From: queenslandholidays.com.au

Maryborough-ites, always happy to be known for something other than pub crawling ship-building have latched onto this claim to fame, with a bronze statue erected in 1995 and an annual Mary Poppins Festival.

I must admit I was a tad ‘meh’ about the festival – as a non parent – but have only just seen the program of activities and feel obliged to eat my words. Or at least, regret my apathy (and antipathy!).

As usual the festival includes the day-long event in Queens Park and Portside (on Sunday 30 June this year); but it also features so much more!

Firstly, there’s the Heritage City Art Festival in the Maryborough City Hall which includes workshops and culminates in sidewalk art at the festival itself.

The usual Maryborough Market Day on Thursday 27 June is being transformed into a Mary Poppins Market Day, complete with peeps in costumes and children’s rides and the like.

There’s pop-up music being featured at cafes and pubs around town and a Musical Showcase in early July with a range of special guests.

From Sunshine Coast Daily

A Mary Poppins High Tea will be held at Muddy Waters Cafe on Saturday 29 June and – of course – it’s actually possible to have Tea with Mary at other times of the year.

And… my fave bit of all and something I’m super keen to get to: Vintage Styling sessions.

Stylists from NZ designer Annah Stretton are holding two evening styling sessions and will provide some ‘what to wear’ and ‘what not to wear’ advice, presumably without the nastiness which comes with reality TV shows in that vein.

If, however, you can’t make either of those there’s a Vintage Pop-Up Salon at the festival and a chance to learn about manners, etiquette and poise. (Note for parents, that this includes an opportunity for children to learn ‘the art of table setting’…. so – for your own sake – you might want to make sure they partake!)

The full program for the Sunday festival is available but again there’s something for everyone, from the styling sessions to kids’ activities, puppetry, bands and other entertainment (though I may be giving the ‘reptile show’ a big miss) and food galore.

I’ll see you there!

PS. Did you know that Mary Poppins actually featured in a series of books by Pamela Lyndon Travers (b. Helen Lyndon Goff), written between 1934 and 1988?!