Teen Trainers on Tour!
Sandfly Circus

Posted by Meredith Benke Bell

Trip participants pose in Albury with former Sandfly friends Madhavi Hunt (back, 2nd from L), Taj Murphy (back, 3rd from R), and Soma Murphy (front, centre).

Cooper gets some tumbling instruction at NICA with Mr. Rong.

NICA core instructor, Mr. Vasily, instructs Emma while other Sandfly participants look on.

In December, Sandfly Circus teens Sibylle Wenger, Emma Wiebrecht, Enya Lippert, Leah Pigram and Cooper Matthews embarked on an adventure they had spent intensive weeks working towards. Our growing relationship with NICA made a training residency possible, and many other exciting opportunities arose as well, making this an unforgettable 12 days. You may remember my remarks from the last newsletter published while we were still on the road. Read on here to learn trip highlights from each of these emerging circus artists.


On the 2nd of December, 2016 at about 10am, Meredith, Emma, Enya, Leah, Cooper and myself left Broome. After 2.5 hours we arrived at the Perth airport. After another plane trip we finally arrived at Melbourne airport. Melbourne compared to Broome was cold; it was only 12C! Once we collected our luggage we caught a taxi to our B&B. We made it to bed at about 2am. In the morning, we got out of bed earlyish and walked to an awesome farmers market where we had breakfast. Later on we met up with a very special person Anni Davey, and her daughter Nellie. Anni walked us to Circus Oz and gave us a fabulous through through Circus Oz. Thanks so much Anni and Nellie for making us feel welcome. The tour was great. That night we watched the Landscape Project from the NICA 3rd year students.

On Sunday we had the privilege to watch Rowan’s Christmas show. After the awesome show we also got to go shopping with Rowan. On Monday morning unfortunately, we couldn’t train at NICA. Instead we got invited to watch the 3rd year graduation. Anni invited us to do some free training in the afternoon at Circus Oz.

From Tuesday to Friday, we trained at NICA with awesome trainers. The trainers that worked with us Broome kids were Vasily, Mr. Rong, Aaron, Dan, Mila, Earl, Martine, Julian, Ludwig, and Andrea, who organized the whole week for us. A big thank you to Andrea and the friendly, welcoming NICA staff. I loved the training week at NICA and I learned a lot. I will always remember all the fabulous trainers at NICA.

On the 11th we caught a train to Albury. In Albury, we got to see the Murphys and the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. We watched them practicing their show, and on the 13th we performed our little show, “Fruity Tuity.” When we got back to Melbourne we were lucky enough to stay at Anni’s place. We got up at 3:45am to catch the plane home. I really really enjoyed that trip, and I always think about it.

This trip wouldn’t have been possible without our fabulous trainer Meredith Bell. I am sure she was sick of us at times. Thanks so much, Meredith. Thanks to Andrea who organized the whole NICA week and the great trainers at NICA. A big shout out to our sponsors of the trip, Broome International Airport, Lionesses of Broome and the Regional Arts Fund, the Broome Markets for letting us do our performance, the Broome community for busking donations and of course my parents for coming to meetings, bringing me to training. Again, thanks everyone for making this trip possible.


My name is Emma Wiebrecht, and I recently went on a trip to Melbourne with my circus, the Sandfly Circus. In Melbourne we got the opportunity to visit NICA, the National Institute of Circus Arts. It was a great opportunity and I learned new skills but also how to become a better trainer. I loved working with all the amazing trainers we met at NICA and they all had so many great tips. At NICA I found two new areas of circus I absolutely love: tight wire and flying trapeze. The shows we saw at NICA were amazing, the skills in the shows were outstanding and I was just awestruck.

It was awesome to travel to Albury to visit the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. I really liked seeing the way they produced their shows and comparing them to ours. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and would love to go back to NICA in the future.


In December last year, I was fortunate enough to go to on a once and a life-time trip to Melbourne and visit The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). This trip came along with many amazing experiences, surprises, beautiful people, and a lot of training and fun! I was so lucky to go with some of my closest circus friends: Sibylle Wenger, Leah Pigram, Emma Wiebrecht, Cooper Matthews and Meredith Bell, who was our mum for the two weeks away from home. What an amazing job she did!

One of my favourite moments was, when we first saw the NICA building and the huge sign, we knew that we had finally arrived! We all stood in front of the building, took a big breath in and I personally thought “WOW!”

We spent 5 days training at NICA, learning from the best circus teachers in the country. Some of the things we learnt were tight wire, clowning, trampolining/tumbling, flying trapeze and arials. NICA is such a remarkable institute and a big shout out to Andrea and the NICA staff for making everything happen. Oh, and Georgia, a former Sandfly, for helping us in some of the classes (especially, calming me down on the flying trap, were I was scared out of my life).

During the trip we saw so many extraordinary shows, I lost count at some point. But my favorite show was Hot Brown Honey; it was just incredible. Thanks to Crystal Stacey for the tickets. Your show was the first show which made me laugh and cry at the same time.

Overall the NICA trip 2016 was an extraordinary experience and I just want to say from the bottom of my heart: thank you to everyone who helped make the trip possible. Peace out!


I went to NICA with Meredith and some other Sandfly Circus kids in December 2016. It was the first time I’d been to Melbourne. The trams were pretty fun, but sometimes they were very crowded with all sorts of people.

NICA was much bigger than I expected, with heaps of different training rooms with really cool equipment like flying trapeze, tight-wires, fast tracks and trampolines. Back in Broome, we don’t have any of that bigger equipment.

We got to use all of this equipment at NICA, and we learnt lots of things, like forwards and backwards walking on the tight-wire, and how to swing on the flying trapeze.

I loved the trainers, they were all really nice, because they didn’t work us too hard and we learnt lots.

As much as I liked the training and equipment, NICA’s heated floor was the best as Melbourne was so cold, coming from Broome.

Visiting Melbourne also allowed me to see some performers who started out in Broome at the Sandfly Circus. I loved watching Crystal Stacey in Hot Brown Honeys. She was so funny pretending to be a bad Australian in Bali.

Crystal also performed a straps routine about domestic violence where she used costumes and a soundtrack to make a strong statement.

We also saw Rowan Thomas who was at the Sandfly Circus in Broome when I first started. After Broome, Rowan studied at NICA, and it was amazing to see how strong and skillful he is now.

I hope to keep working on circus in Broome and getting to circus festivals and NICA as much as possible. When I finish school I want to study fulltime at NICA so I can become a tight-wire, hula-hoop and aerial artist, and perform around the world.


Hi my name is Cooper, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to go on the Melbourne trip, with the Broome Sandfly Circus. This experience was a great opportunity to learn new things, get to know one another even more and to become young adults.

The Melbourne trip included NICA training (National institute of circus), a trip to Albury, a tour of the Fruit Fly Circus, the end of year NICA show, the NICA graduation and much more. But I wasn’t alone, I had four awesome mates join me on this wicked expedition and we had the best mentor, Meredith Bell. Throughout the Melbourne trip we ran into some old friends who had trained with the Sandflies but now have moved on to the Fruit Fly Circus. The guest house we stayed at was amazing. The first day we stayed in Melbourne there was a monthly framers market. The farmers market was sick, all the fruit and veg was so fresh, delicious and home grown. Trams were a great way to get around although there were a couple scary incidents throughout some of the tram rides.

Hot Brown Honey was the best live show I’ve ever seen, some scenes, were absolutely hilarious and others just made me cry. It was great to see a former Sandfly Circus performer moving on and traveling the world, being so successful and making Broome proud. This experience has helped me think holistically in the way I will approach Circus this year.

Categories AAA Publish, Sandfly Circus