The carnival comes to (Brisbane) town

It’s almost Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) time in Brisbane and preparations are in full swing for this huge annual event where city meets country.

At the city’s closest caravan park, where we live during the working week, we are immersed in a totally different perspective of this Ekka-slash-carnival life.

The “carnies” (carnival workers) are here… and the park has come to life, crammed to bursting with an array of massive vans of all shapes, sizes and conditions.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Ancient carnival-style vans sit alongside the latest in mobile living – extending decks, satellite dishes and ensuites.

It’s an impressive sight – and not just the vans. These resilient, rough-around-the-edges people have an incredible work ethic. And a rainbow-worthy variety of hair colours…

Right now they’re on the go from dawn ‘til dusk (or later) setting up for the Ekka’s opening on Thursday.

You’d think there’d be a lot of partying going on and the odd brawl. But by the time the moon is up, the park is silent except for the squawking and chattering of fruit bats and other night creatures.

There are no happy hour antics here. The only action is in the laundry, where eight machines are humming day and night.

High viz workwear and a variety of body art and piercings are the trend du jour.

There’s always a smile, a nod and a gidday. Kids are everywhere, riding their bikes around, sometimes almost running you down but apologising with unexpected grace and endearing cheek.

The extendable decks I’ve always thought were going a bit too far suddenly make more sense. For these families on the road, they’re perfect for keeping toddlers and toys out of harm’s way.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

In two weeks, they’ll pack up and move on to the next town, the next carnival, dragging their houses, rides and sideshow alley paraphernalia with them.

The funky back packer campervans and grey nomad caravans will emerge, no longer dwarfed by the magnitude of the Carnie world.

But they’ll be back next year, and this tourist park will welcome them as always. After all, what’s not to like.

About the dragonfly

...wrapping words around travel, business, life and writing adventures. View all posts by the dragonfly

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