(2 September – 9 September)
One of the more interesting features in the town centre is the Sun Pictures open-air cinema which opened in 1916 and is the longest running cinema of its kind in the world, a marvellous venue to experience the silver screen with a handful of disused old-world projectors on display.
The seating, mainly deck chairs and some benches, has only a few rows under cover with the majority under the skies. The big tip here is to bring your mozzie spray!
Another aspect of the town centre is that most of the buildings are no more than glorified sheds of corrugated tin, even those selling pearls – quite a contrast to their respective retail outlets in Sydney or Melbourne.
An event as part of the Shinju Matsuri was the speedway racing with a variety of racing on the agenda including super saloons, quad bikes, speedway racers, road cars, and juniors. Most viewers had reversed their utes towards the safety fence and plonked themselves in seats on the ute tray. We dragged our camping chairs between the utes and the fence and ‘enjoyed’ countless mouthfuls of dust and dried mud spat out from under the tyres as the cars sped past doing power slides. This, plus the incredible noise and pungent smells of burning nitro made for an early exit as we only lasted about half an hour – the tribe were so excited about going, yet the reality was nothing like they expected thanks to their knowledge of motor racing being that of the movie ‘Cars’.
One thing you have to do at Cable Beach is a camel ride, which was another of these things that excited the tribe a lot until we actually got up close to the camels. They were so up for it, yet when it was time to climb onto the camel’s backs, the tribe were having none of it. After some quick coaxing, and amidst the tears of fright, we got all of them up, with M and the boys riding ‘Connor’ while the girls and I rode ‘Lazee Daisy’.
Once we were up and plodding along the beach, the tribe were in their element – the initial fears subsided soon after the jerky rise from the camel’s knees. So for half an hour, we rode about Cable Beach like Lawrence of Arabia, admiring the views of each other, the long shadows from the late afternoon sun, while M admired the view of the male nudist sunbather.
The Shinju Matsuri closing ceremony took place at Cable Beach in an amphitheatre-like setting above the beach. Again we were entertained by some of the folks who performed at the opening – some of the dancers and the like. Also we got to see Sammy the Chinese Dragon again as he farewelled the crowd until next year’s festival.
The feature of the evening including the fireworks included a performance by a group of Indian musicians accompanied by a didgeridoo followed by Dan Sultan and his Band. The former provided some wonderful grooves punctuated by some sonorous tones from the didge. Dan Sultan belted out some of his stomping rock ‘n’ roll, yet nothing actually bettered his rendition of ‘Nyul Nyul Girl’ from the film Bran Nue Dae, shot on location on the West Coast and around Broome.
So another bunch of ‘firsts’ for the tribe as it was their first concert and might I say, Dan Sultan is not too bad a choice as the first concert – I’m sure it would rate well with the Espy audience on Rockwiz!
Another first was their baptism of seeing fireworks (not on TV) that closed the festival, the dark sky over north Cable Beach lit up by the floral bursts of multi-coloured lights that brought lots of “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” from the crowd.
And how did the tribe handle all these ‘firsts’? Well, with Dan Sultan, the girls did a lot of dancing to the boogie stomp until Saffiya got a little too self-conscious that people were watching her. As for the fireworks, they just couldn’t get enough as they were calling for more long after the end of the damn fine display. The camels, well the jury is still our on whether the tribe would like some as pets. Lastly, the speedway action – fine as long as you are Kaydin and not close enough to hear the noise, smell the exhaust and get hit by flying dirt spray!