Festival: children, characters and cows

WoodlandsHow funny. One moment I was walking through sunny fields of cows on the way to the pub after a long day of teaching… and the next – I’m back at my computer in chilly Melbourne. On Sunday 30th August I headed up to Brisbane with a group of Melbournians, collected Sydneysiders, Perthites and Adeladians at the luggage carousel, then all headed west out through Ipswich to the old seminary of Woodlands. Some people knew each other, others were strangers. We came from all around Australia, New Zealand as far as the UK. Over a week and a half we were the voice of the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, based around the property and mansion of Woodlands, various surrounding schools and a scattering of halls in Ipswich. preps in the dungeonI did 19 demonstrations, taught close to 1000 kids and some adults, used up a lot of pastels, and was responsible for at least 49 wolfy howls.

Here are some things I learned…
* Although some were troubled by the Dark Spirits of the old mansion’s ghosts, I found it a very friendly place, especially the dungeon.
* A cold at the beginning of a long period of teaching is not good for my voice.
* When I lose my voice I fluctuate between sounding like Barry White and a 6 year old choir boy.
* Melaleuca honey and pineapples don’t cure all ills.
* Cows are curious in daylight and also in moonlight.
* Marburg locals don’t see pink hair often. But they get over it.
* Creeks are harder to cross by starlight and it’s easy to miss the obvious ford one metre away.happy sausage tree
* Preppies like you to draw vampire teddies when in a dungeon.
* A burst of rain leads to: cacophonous frog singing and Jenny Stubbs discovering the horrible violent side of gravity.
* Crows have a huge range of calls I never knew about and are good dancers.
* I still don’t know what a bunya(?) nut looks like and why they’re so dangerous.
* It may be possible to rig “friendliest town” competitions.
* Festivals are wonderful for children and presenters alike and we all have an absolute ball.

This post is dedicated to Jenny Stubbs who worked like crazy to organise this festival for two years, then missed out enjoying the finale when she broke her ankle in an awful fall. We love you Jenny. And to Shirley who stepped in and made everything keep working beautifully!

I absolutely loved doing this festival. It was hard work but the kids were fantastic, the place was inspiring and my partner-in-crime-presenters all formed a gorgeous community that it was bliss to be in.

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