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Ray's World Adventures 1999

Australia Adventure, March 1999
Melbourne: Whittlesea and Darebin

 Ray flying Prism ProphecysThe last time I was in Australia was at the World Cup 95 and I have been longing to go back ever since. So I was very happy indeed to accept a three-week sponsorship by the organizer of the Adelaide International Kite Festival 1999, Anne Marie Parry, owner of The Kite Factory in Unley, South Australia. When Peter Batchelor heard that I had been invited to Australia, he E-mailed me and asked if it would be possible for me to stop off in Melbourne for a few days to participate in two kite festivals being held the weekend before the Adelaide festival. The two kite festivals were Whittlesea, and Darebin Festival of Kites. I checked with Anne Marie to see if this would be okay, as this was her ball game. She said, "No problem. Have a great time, but don't wear yourself out. Remember we need you!"

My first stop was Melbourne, and meeting me at the airport was Peter's lovely wife, Kirsty, and their 7 month old daughter, Amelia. I had been invited to stay at their home for the next five days. They were perfect hosts and they made me feel so welcome. It was like home away from home, and Amelia took to me like a long lost uncle. We hit it off from day one. She's a real charmer. I was well prepared for Melbourne's four-seasons-in-one-day weather as I was in Melbourne in 1990 for their first kite competition at Daytona Park. It was a beautiful place to hold a competition and festival with its super ocean winds and awesome view of the city. Whittlesea festival took place on Saturday, March 20th. Peter and I headed out early. It looked like it was going to be a great day but, alas, the wind god took the day off.

 The only things that were moving were the insects, biting everyone in sight, especially those who were pouring sun screen and insect repellent on themselves. I am sure the stuff works as bait; they seemed to thrive on it and kept coming back for more, bringing all their mates with them. I managed to fly most of the day. It took quite a bit of effort but that is the name of the game. I really enjoyed meeting old friends that I had not seen since 1990 and 1995, and also enjoyed making new ones and putting faces to names that I had only seen in our AKA (American Kitefliers Association) newsletter. I had not seen Colin Minter since 1995. I love his flow form kites. He sure has come a long way in the last 4 years. Good stuff, Colin! Ricky, Joanne and Margaret were busy most of the day doing what they love to do, giving kite work shops and watching the creativity in the children as they taught them how to build their first kites.

It was also great spending time with the Malaysian kite flyers. They worked very hard assembling a great show of all the beautiful kites they brought especially for the spectators. Karl and Peter had a great row of banners up in line with the flying field. Colin had his Bananas and Pajamas flow form kite as well as his arch of 160 kites. Peter Batchelor went a few better with his 200 kite arch. Many other flyers were doing their best to fly in this very light wind. I mean -- let's face it -- anyone can fly in good winds, right? At least this sorts the men from the boys. I had a great day.

When In Rome, Stay Out Of The Rain

 The next day was the Darebin Festival of Kites, an event with a Chinese emphasis. Peter told me that last year, well over 10,000 spectators turned out for this festival. I was really looking forward to it but again the weatherman was out to lunch, and it rained most of the day. Of course, that kept some of the spectators away, but many braved it and came to see what it was all about. It seemed they had a good time in spite of the rain.

I managed to fly most of the day. I answered many questions and gave flyers advice about multiple-kite flying. They were very keen to take up this challenge; I hope I will be able to return next year to see how they have progressed, and give them another opportunity to pick my brain. I enjoyed the day in spite of the light rain. It was well organized and with better weather it would have been an even greater success. I have been to many rained out kite festivals around the world. I remember a couple of years ago at the Swindon Kite Festival UK, the spectators sat in their cars with the windshield wipers going full blast, watching me while I was doing a multiple kite ballet. (Again, that's the name of the game.) As the saying goes, when in Rome, stay out of the rain.

 The chance to socialize, to meet and talk to old friends and make new ones is a real bonus. Often I am too busy flying to socialize, so it was with great pleasure that I met up with old friends from Bunyip, Dot and Don Meyers, who had made the trip especially to see me. I met them many years ago in Vancouver and we have kept in touch over the years. I had a very happy lunch break in their trailer along with Adele and Arthur Coombs, reliving old memories. I somehow missed Helen Bushell, whom I have not seen since 1990 in New Zealand. Could she have been hiding from me? I would love to have chatted with her.

 I was so very pleased to have had this opportunity to visit Melbourne once again. I would like to thank the organizers of the Darebin Festival of Kites for a great evening out, and for providing the airfare from Melbourne to Adelaide. Thank you Peter and Kirsty Batchelor for sharing your home and family, especially Princess, and Kirsty, thank you for picking me up and taking me to the airport, for the great meals, the car and train rides, and for showing me the many faces of Melbourne from the tower, etc. I extend my gratitude to everyone involved? you have added more great memories to my already huge wealth of worldwide memories.

Thank you for listening.

Ray.




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