Canberra sojourn #2 – Mardis Gras

Sydney’s fearlessly famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras!  I attended my first and only Mardi Gras some 20years ago and whilst Jules and I are based in Canberra, literally just down the road, we took the opportunity to pop up to Sydney for the weekend for the 2019 Mardi Gras.

Having planned to drive up, our Bondi Beach based AirBnB didn’t come with a car parking spot so at the last minute we flipped plans and booked a return coach trip, $150 return for the both of us, which in the end was cheaper and easier than driving.  Leaving on the 5pm bus, we arrived at Sydney Central Train station just after 8 and opted to catch an Uber out to Bondi.  $20 and a crazy drive later and we were settled in to the AirBnB, after trying to undo the combination lock holding the apartment key.  A very small, but tidy and neat loft apartment on the 10th floor with views out to Bondi Beach, about 800mtrs down Bondi Rd.

On the bus up to Sydney
Arriving in our small, but very neat AirBNB just up from Bondi Beach

Saturday morning saw us walking down the hill to Bondi Beach where we had a beautiful brekky overlooking the beach, before walking one end of the beach, taking in the markets, to the other.  Beautiful sunny day, but very humid so we stopped in for a couple of quiet drinks at the Icebergs Bar&Grill, again overlooking the surfers and the beach.  Brekky had started to digest so before leaving the beach, we popped down to the local fish store to grab a plate of cooked prawns with cocktail sauce and half a crayfish for lunch.  Someone’s got to do it tough…

The view out to Bondi Bead from our apartment
Our Bondi view whilst eating brekky
Bondi beach from the top end
Bondi beach from the lower end
Bondi Beach wall/street art
Bondi Beach wall/street art
Bondi Beach wall/street art
Bondi Beach wall/street art

Equipping ourselves with an Opal transport card, we bussed back to the apartment to freshen up, and then bussed again up to Taylors Square for the Mardi Gras.  Arriving about 3pm we discussed grabbing an ale or two at one of the pubs, however, the crowd was already starting to build, so we plonked ourselves on the roadside, 1st line behind the crowd barriers, right next to the Taylors Square pedestrian crossing.  Taylors Square is the main part of the parade route, where the parade turns off Oxford St and heads down Flinders St.  When the traffic was closed down, the SBS broadcast truck was parked just across from us with the glitter and flame canons.

Our Mardis Gras viewing spot, right on the barrier, just back from the cnr on Taylors Square

With the parade not getting underway until 7pm, we had nearly four hours to wait but there was PLENTY to watch, with lots of very colourful, out, loud and proud people walking around.  We got chatting to a couple of girls from Newcastle, camped next to us on the barrier and to a group of four guys from Canada.  Whilst waiting an ambulance pulled up directly in front of us to attend a drug overdose in the pub toilets behind us.  30mins later the ambo’s emerged, advised the patient was back on their feet which was good for them.  Whilst we didn’t see it overtly, I’m sure there was plenty of party shit and alcohol going down through the crowd and I’m sure there were plenty of sore heads on Sunday.

The crowd swelled behind us and up and down the street and unfortunately a group of four, what can only be described as “feral bogan pigs” parked themselves near us.  Calling them a Collingwood Supporter would be an insult to Collingwood Supporters as the Colliwobble fans have far better teeth and drink less Jim Beam (that’s how feral these pigs were…).  As the parade kicked off, so did the ferals, F’ing and C’ing, which wouldn’t normally bother us expect there was a mum and her two small kids camped on the barrier to our left and I’m sure they didn’t appreciate it.  Eventually they started throwing punches with some other ferals behind them (didn’t see what they looked like), so we called the cops in to sort them out.

The parade started with the Dykes on Bikes, followed by the Boys on Bikes, having a ball revving the crap out of their bikes as they travelled up and down the parade route.  Following the bikes, the parade proper kicked off with about 4hrs of VERY happy participants, of all ages, dancing, gyrating and making their way up Oxford St.  Regardless of your beliefs or orientation, there was no denying the fabulousness, frivolity, fun, sheer happiness, love and energy the participants and the crowd showed.  Truly a spectacle and something Jules and I would recommend to anyone.

Making it home on a very packed bus just before midnight, we managed to grab a bite to eat at the local, late night takeaway before crashing for the night.  Sunday saw us packing and jumping back on the 333 bus, taking us into Circular Quay, past many late night revellers still walking the streets in their ‘party wear’ (or lack of clothing..).

From Circular Quay we walked up into The Rocks for another lovely breakfast at Guylian’s and walk through The Rocks markets.  Making our way slowly back to Central Station for our bus home, we got distracted by the lovely sounds of Roshani busking in Circular Quay.  Do yourself a favour and check her out here!  Unfortunately, that, a couple of other distractions meant our 2km walk through the Sydney CBD was rather brisk, so it was with some relief that we finally managed to find the bus departure point, where we plonked ourselves down for the cruisey trip home.

Street art near Circular Quay
Street art in The Rocks
Looking out from Circular Quay at the iconic Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

All in all, a very busy, but great trip with lots of new memories to savour.

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