Friday, February 6, 2009

Spirit of Busselton, A Damp Squib

Saturday 24th January 2009
The Café was very quiet today, there seems to be loads of little things going on in Busselton, it is a changeover day as far as accommodation goes and the locals are still not venturing out in force.
Carolyn took Fraser in his Scout uniform and Marisa in her Cub uniform to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, one of the Scouts in Frasers pack was due to receive an award for the effort he had put in as a Scout and reaching the standard required to earn the Gold Medallion, the highest award a Scout in Australia can earn. After the ceremony which was attended by Troy (sniff your seat) Buswell, Wes (I am right) Hartley and numerous other Scouting dignitaries, they had a Sausage Sizzle.
In the evening we went for a drink at the Nard and booked a couple of tables for our Christmas party which is taking place next Saturday, after that we went to the Vasse.
At the Vasse we decided to stop for dinner, it was quite busy with loads of young people in Green and Gold trying to drink themselves under the table, obviously practicing for Monday which is Australia Day.
After the Vasse we walked up the road to Rotary Park where the Busselton Festival Beauty Queen was going to be crowned on the banks of the River Vasse, to say it was a little bit long winded would be an understatement, but this is the way it had been done for the last forty-odd years, so nothing was going to change.
There were loads of people there, with families sitting in their deckchairs and on blankets on the opposite side of the river, watching and waiting to see who it would be.
The way they choose the Busselton Beauty Queen is quite interesting really, there is no guarantee that the best looking, most beautiful girl will get it, the whole thing is about fundraising.
Like most other towns in the world there are numerous charity and community groups in Busselton, they all do there own little bit for the local community and in some cases worthy worldwide causes. Part of their fundraising involves nominating a young lady to represent your cause at Busselton Festival and for that young lady to work with the group, to raise the most money prior to the Beauty Queen vote.
The young lady who is representing a cause is required to help organise and attend fundraising events prior to the Festival, then during Festival week they attend a bit of a shin dig where they make a speech about the cause they are representing and what they are aiming to achieve and want to do if the become Busselton Beauty Queen.
All the people who will be doing the voting are in attendance and they cast their votes not only on looks, but on how much money they have raised, their speech and how good the judges feel they will be as ambassadors for Busselton. We don’t suppose for a minute that a really ugly girl would win, but there’s no guarantee that Miss World would either.
Tonight the Beauty Queens and their chaperones (boyfriends) were ferried down the river on a dodgy looking barge manned by someone who obviously doesn’t drive these things for a living and a couple of Scouts. All the while the MC is talking, it was relentless, Ian reckons his real job must be that of a Cricket Commentator.
The Beauty Queen gets crowned and then we came to the important bit, the bit that everyone had really come along to see, the burning of the Spirit of Busselton, it is a very large model which looks like a puppet, it is made of paper and is sitting on a makeshift raft which is floating on four small oil drums.
The local FES (fire and emergency service) were going to light it, they pulled up alongside it in a boat and one of the FES guys started to get out and climb on the raft, presumably they needed to do that to light it in the right place.
As soon as he put one foot on the corner of the raft it started to tilt, instead of getting back in the boat and finding a more stable position to climb on to, he carried on.
We were no more than ten yards (metres) away and we couldn’t believe what we were seeing, we thought the bloke was bound to let go and fall in the water with the raft righting itself again, but he didn’t, he hung on like his life depended on it and instead of burning the Evil Spirits, he drowned them. As the FES boat drove away under the bridge where we were standing leaving the effigy laying on its side in the water, the guy who had pulled it over got a right ribbing from the onlookers.
When the MC, who no doubt was looking forward to describing in detail how the effigy was burning bit by bit, realised that the lump of Papier-Mache lying in the river, wasn’t going to burn very well, he announced the start of the fireworks.
The fireworks display was quite impressive for what we have so far seen in Australia, the fireworks over here don’t have anywhere near the power of the ones in the UK, but then again, they don’t have anywhere near as many people to help pay for them.
After the fireworks we went to the Ship for a beer while we waited for a taxi to take us home, it was rather an entertaining night.
Now we just need to hope that evil spirits can be drowned as well as burned, although not at the same time of course, because we can do without any bad luck in Busselton, at least until we get residency.

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