Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Celebration of Community

During the recent bushfires that have devastated parts of Victoria, chaos ruled. Fire raged through communities burning everything in its path leaving trails of devastation that have since been described as "war zones". In the midst of the fires and the ensuing aftermath, there has been one voice that has remained constant. One voice that has comforted the survivors, one voice that has mobilised the community and one voice that continues to keep its eye on the ever present fire threat, and this is the voice of ABC Radio.

ABC Radio, which serves as the Emergency Services Broadcaster here in Australia, has worked tirelessly to keep the public informed during this bushfire season. The ABC works in conjunction with the CFA and the DSE to provide accurate and up to date fire threat information to communities all over the state. This fire season has been different to others though, with the Black Saturday tragedy in the forefront of every one's hearts and minds.

During the Black Saturday crisis and in the crucial days that followed the ABC served as a conduit for the community--matching up those in need with those who had something to give. The ABC hosts broadcast live from bushfire stricken areas and brought us the stories of the people who had survived. They shone a light on their needs and encouraged us to give whatever we could. As a community, we responded and the response has been overwhelming. In many cases, offers of help have been so overwhelming that some donations of food, clothing or other items have been turned away as relief agencies struggle to process this unprecedented outpouring of goods.

So it seemed fitting today that the ABC decided to celebrate the communities it serves and thank them for their recent support of the bushfire victims and survivors. As the ABC described on their website, "In the aftermath of the bushfires, the ABC Community Concert is a thank you to all Victorians for the tremendous support they have shown towards those affected by the fires. " What better way to celebrate the idea of community than with a free public concert?

And it was this free public concert that had the Handsome Australian and I rolling out of bed in the wee small hours of the morning to organise our brood and head to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in the heart of King's Domain Gardens. Until today, our family has never attended an event at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and I was looking forward to it.

The ABC Community concert was to run all day at the SMMB, with the first half of the day dedicated to children's entertainment and the second half of the day geared towards the adults. Our little people had been buzzing all week in anticipation of the concert. They were particularly keen on the promised appearance of Dorothy the Dinosaur and The Fairies.

The gates opened at 9:45am and I'd say we pulled into a sweet parking space overlooking the Yarra river on Alexandra Parade right around that time. The first sign it was going to be a nice day was the fact that the parking time was unlimited as the parking signs indicated there were only restrictions on those particular spaces Mon-Fri. Hooray! Free parking! That's such a bonus in Melbourne.

We unloaded the little people and all their gear (Does this stuff multiply in the boot? There is so much of it!) and we crossed the road heading for concert. The crowd was mixed as we made our way along the Tan and then uphill to the SMMB. There were plenty of morning joggers and other fitness fanatics making their way around the fabled path in addition to the plaid blanket carrying, pram pushing, overloaded family types like ourselves.

As we arrived at the gates of the SMMB, there was a patchy green (we are in drought after all) hill sloping gently downwards toward a stage with limited undercover seating directly in front of it. I loved the venue immediately. It was architecturally interesting, open air and spacious. We decided to fore go the covered seating (which meant actual seats) and instead chose to spread out in the grass with all our goodies.
It's here that I'll admit we don't actually have a plaid picnic blanket like EVERYONE else in Melbourne seems to. You know the lovely ones with the synthetic backing that keeps the damp out. The ones that fold up into nice little squares and tuck neatly inside your picnic basket. Yeah, we don't have one. So instead I pull out our DORA THE EXPLORER fleece blanket (a thoughtful gift from a well meaning Aunt) and feign sophistication while sitting squarely on top of Dora's bilingual little head.

The crowd was teeming with under 5s and their weary parents who made a beeline for the coffee vendor up the back. There was never less than 20 people waiting for a hit...I mean a latte. Once the show started though, adults and children alike were mesmerised by the parade of characters before them.

Jay Laga'aia and Georgie Parker of Playschool fame led the charge. They treated the kids to several songs before bringing on Dorothy the Dinosaur (of Wiggles fame). Our son was transfixed (Wiggles aficionado is an understatement) and loved dancing along with Dorothy. (Dancing is always easier in your sister's bejeweled plastic pumps: see below)

The Fairies came next with their friends delighting all the fairy wannabes in the crowd.

They were followed by the truly Aussie Koala Brothers who had children jumping like Kangaroos.

Concert Headliners B1 and B2aka The Bananas in Pajamas rounded up the entertainment for the morning and left the crowd wanting more. More lattes that is...
Because judging by the empties lying around it was time for another round.
This time for the kids. Can you say babychino? Because any self respecting 18 month old Melburnian certainly can.
Yes, a good *coffee laden* time was had by all!

Good on you ABC! We are pleased to be a part of your community!


Bush Babe said...

Wow. THat sounds AWESOME. I won't tell Dash and Violet as they'll be utterly devestated that Dorothy and the Koala Brothers aren't touring together! Me... I just want to know if the cute dude off playschool (the McLeods Daughters one!) was there too. If so, I may have to move.

Seriously, the ABC are incredible at times like this. Good journos and editors are worth their weight in gold when the chips are down... that's what communication SHOULD be about.

Hope you are all OK today.

suzinoz said...

Thanks BB. The ABC is incredible. I've really been amazed how this whole thing has been handled and continues to be handled.

Jay and Georgie were the only Playschoolers there so I think your McLeods heartthrob must have had other committments =)

julieafan said...

aww don't you have some pics of Georgie? I really love her!