The Westerly winds are up and starting to blow which means only one thing in August… The Ekka has rolled into town! The Ekka for me is some of the happiest memories I have as a young kid. I’m pulling on the heart strings here because this time of year is such a special time for me and the rest of my family. My Grandpa Trell died just a little over 7 years and it still hits me everyday. He was one of those men that you just wanted to have around all the time. And being a grandparent you just think that they will be here forever!
Ekka for me was a big deal, being an only child for 6 years and the only grandchild for 6 years, I was fussed over like I should have been! My Nanna always got excited and would enter in her cakes and biscuits (so many stories with this part of my Ekka story, it will go into part 2) to be judged with many a win and my Grandpa just got excited for the country coming to the city and having a yarn with all the folk rolling their lives into ours for two weeks of August!
My Grandpa Trell used to take me on drives a couple of weeks prior to the Ekka starting to watch it being set-up, we would sit and watch the Ferris Wheel take shape while we fed the ducks at the pond across from the old Children’s Hospital at the RBWH with stale bread. He would then keep the insert of The Sunday Mail’s Ekka lift out where I would circle all the show bags I wanted and then add them all up and then find out how much money I needed to scab from family members so I got them all! Mum and Dad would then step in and tell me to cross off about 10 show bags (so unfair) so I would then only have to carry 10 around the Ekka at the end of the night…( I didn’t want for much did I!) Grandpa would then put those bags back on my list and buy them for me, because obviously I got what I wanted and I was a spoilt little angel!
Grandpa would always buy me a Firefighters calendar and get them to sign it for me… and I wonder why I love to perve on Firefighters now! We would get a dagwood dog dipped in the GIANT bucket of tomato sauce from at least four stores throughout the Ekka and then judge which one was the best! We would go to the HANS stand in the show bag pavillion and get Cheerios while mum did the orienteering through the show bag pavilion to make sure I got every thing I wanted!
We would head to Sideshow Alley where we would get on one of the rides, I am terrified of heights so I would choose very simple rides, like the ROCK ‘N ROLL which Dad would get on with me, and then we would walk up to the end of the alley and Nanna would spend all her money on the doubles for the Surf Life Saving where you would peel open a number and then if you got a winning number you chose a prize off a shelf… so many shit prizes on those shelves! But she loved it! I always got a ticket for the merry go round and enjoyed every minute of being on it. The big thing was picking which beautiful piece of the merry go round I would sit on!
We would head to the wood chop where we would bet on who would finish first and it was always the least expected chopper that would win! Grandpa would take us through the cattle sheds and talk to the farmers and then prop us onto the back of a bull where he would give them a fair whack on the bottom for a fright and then we would find and pat the calves. We would then proceed through the Ekka and stop off at each bar to ensure that him and dad could quality control all of the XXXX beer on tap, we would hate for a keg to be off! When we got to the Stockmans Bar, always the last bar of the rounds before we went into the arena for the fireworks, Grandpa would have to make sure that the Bundy Rum was free flowing and would make sure he had a rum chaser with each pot of XXXX he had. Also to ensure that when we got into the arena and the winds blew up his little feet were warm!
On the way out he would buy me a kewpie doll on a stick, the prettiest one I could find, a bag of fairy floss and a toffee apple…because I didn’t get enough already.
At the end of the fireworks, I would always be too tired to walk to the car (or too lazy) so he would prop me up on his shoulders and walk me to the car park miles away to ensure that my day wasn’t hindered by the walk back to the car! Then of course, the pins and needles that I got after he took me off his shoulders I would complain about so he would give them a good slap and all the pins and needles would be gone.
I always fell asleep in the car and never remember how I made it to bed, but someone always picked me up and took me to bed placing my show bags at the end of my bed ready for the next day where I would spend a full day sorting out what I could give away to Mum, Dad, Nanna & Grandpa. They were obviously always the yucky lollies, like the liquorice or black cats (wouldn’t give them away now)…
My love for the Ekka is so deep, because the memories are some of the BEST from my childhood.
As I grew up the Ekka changed, however my love for it and the memories that I made every year never changed. I never felt the need to go to the Ekka with friends, I only ever wanted to go with my family to ensure all of my memories stayed the same! Now I am 33 the Ekka has changed to a focus on my Nanna who has been entering her baked goods into the Fine Arts section for years… the stories I have for this are the best, but you will have to wait for the next part of My Love For The Ekka story!