Melboure Report
In the Footsteps of Sandflies

Posted by Gwen Knox

Madhavi, André, Amethyst and Rachel. Photo by Gwen Knox

Foam Pit is the ONLY thing to have. Photo by Gwen Knox

At the Fruitfly Circus Space. Photo by Gwen Knox
We arrived late at night. The accommodation on Chapel street had forgotten about us. After much knocking on the door and ringing the bell we were finally let in. The kids had a small 4 bed dormitory and Gwen had a room to herself. We were all woken early by the sound of the first train from Windsor Station which was a good thing as we needed to get to NICA.

Gwen, sleep deprived but trying to put on a brave face that exuded confidence said, "Lets go this way NICA isn't far". 

After some time we realised that Gwen taken them in  the wrong direction.

After planning to get their nice and early we only just arrived on time! The kids worked hard on the first day in stretching, juggling, dance. Some of the kids could not see the point in dance and how it was relevant to circus but the teacher was great and the kids found themselves doing most things even though they didn't think they wanted to. They were rewarded at Jens' house by a very large bowl of pasta and ice-cream that night.  The next morning there was much complaining of soreness but hey, that's part of being a circus practitioner!

The next day they spent the morning doing a great tumbling class at NICA with a teacher who the kids wanted to bring home to Broome, followed by a general class with a focus on the Russian Swing. They opted to watch Elke who they knew from the WA circus festival have a go. Later they watched the third year NICA students rehearse for their graduation show with Meredith, Jen's wife.

 In this room was also the .... FOAM PIT!

After the rehearsal Meredith said that they could have a go in the pit!

Their feedback responses showed this to be a highlight of the trip.

That afternoon we went into Melbourne on a shopping spree however our time was shortened  because we had to wait for a couple of girls to straighten their hair of all things. We eventually made it in time to explore sweet and shoe shops and few others besides. I think André noted every KFC shop in Melbourne. We then went out to Circus OZ. Pippen who we also met at the WA Circus festival,  gave us a tour of Circus Oz building then we bought our only restaurant meal. Gwen explained how she manages to get lots of free coffee and even the occasional free meal because she gets forgotten a lot when she puts in group orders at restaurants. And guess what happened? Gwen got forgotten! The obligatory free coffee followed. After which we took a walk along the foreshore where Gwen gazed longingly at the Tasmanian ferry, having fantasies of escape, while the kids explored the pier. Soon it was time to go back to Circus Oz for the community Acro workshop. The girls looked longingly at the aerial workshops going on at the same time, especially the flying trapeze workshop run by Gwen's  old friend Crash Mat but these workshop were booked out. It was great to catch up with Mat again.

We didn't get to see Tom as he was touring with Circus Oz on their current show.

The next day we headed out to Albury  on the train in time for a workshop with the Fruitflies and watch Crystals Tech rehearsal which promised to go for a long time so we called it a night and headed back to the cottage. We had a bit more room here so we were able to spread out get more comfortable.

Madhavi discovered a lemon tree full of lemons which she squeezed and we enjoyed beautiful fresh lemonade.

We watched the Fruitiees graduation dress rehearsal. Some of the Broome kids were a bit worried that if they watched the rehearsal that the show would become boring but they actually found it really interesting. The whole experience of watching the development of the show was reported as one of the  favourite activities. At the show the kids met a large number of Crystals family including her mum, sisters and brother, her grandmothers and father, step mum and Middie! Mirren was one of our original Sandflies.

We left Albury and all it circus and spring flower behind the next day to return to Melbourne. Gwen had planned that we would arrive with 45 minutes to spare to go to the Juggle art shop so André and her could stock up on goodies but she didn't take into account the Melbourne peak hour traffic. We had a number of plans that included shopping at Juggle art, meeting Jens and a childhood friend of Gwen's for dinner in Chinatown, then go to the surprise show with Gwen's friend afterwards. We had to keep adjusting the plans as we soon realised that we were going nowhere in peak hour traffic in Melbourne.  Gwen rang the Melbourne accommodation to say that we would be passing through to drop off cases to return to the waiting taxi so that we would get to the show in time. When we arrived the ladies who ran the place held the door open for us had our room doors open and our stopover here was a matter of minutes. Gwen was amazed at how easy it is to move four teenagers some times.

We got to the Rod Laver Arena with plenty of time to shovel in some fried food and chips, meet Gwen's friend and see Cirque Du Soleil's The Immortal world Tour. It was a surprise for most of the kids. The technical wizardry of the show was mind boggling but there was not as much circus as the kids expected. The arena was pretty full and most people sang along to the songs and had a great time. André got a bit fidgety not being a fan of dance based shows, but the girls loved it. Gwen loved the costumes and got lots of ideas. Thank you Cirque du Soleil and Gail at Acapta for organising the free tickets for us.

After the show Gwen's friend walked us to Chinatown which was still pumping.

It was good to walk though as the kids had been cooped up in buses,  taxis and venues all day. Some of us ordered a Chinese meal. We got home after midnight that night. The next morning it was up early again to catch the plane home. Phew!

 Thank you to the crew at Flying Fruitfly Circus, NICA, Circus OZ, ACAPTA and the Parents who made it possible.

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