Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas by the River... Santa's Secret Wonderland.

Well - Adelaide may not have Melbourne's Myer Window Display, however we do have the fun of the West End Brewery Christmas Display... er... the what now? That's right, Brewery = Christmas Display is not a typical combination in everyday conversation. Just on the western outskirts of the CBD is the area known as Thebarton (or as some inter-staters have called it, "The Barton").  The site backs onto the main river Torrens that cuts through the city. The Brewery was first established in 1859. It says some thing important about Australia, and Adelaide in particular, that the brewery was up and producing beer for the masses only 23 years after the city was founded... it's pride and joy the Southwark Ales - which was later amalgamated with the West End brewery (and is now owned by Lion Nathan... which is weirdly... owned by Japanese Kirin brewing company. It's a small, small world.

Another century on, in 1958 the brewery decided  to establish a garden on the banks of the Torrens... basically to hide the unsightly dump that had evolved on the side of the river after a 100 years of drunken revelry... I mean distilling the nectar of the gods. Well, the following year, in 1959 they established the first of the Christmas decorations; which have grown to become an Adelaide Christmas tradition. I've just put together a few of the photos from a recent trip there with T-chan and L-kun (and myself). 

On the western end of the display we see the nativity scene...

Hmmm... taking out the zoom lens gives a slightly better perspective... and I have to say that Joseph must really be hanging out for his Remington shaver. As a very non-Christmas aside... Remington (the shaver company) did actually start life out of the firearms company - which also had another by-product. The QWERTY keyboard.... which chances are, you're still using this very day. Right now, I don't think Joseph has  typing, shaving or shooting on his mind.To be honest, he kinda looks like he's got drinking on his mind... a good cold Southwark Ale mayhaps?  

I always get a little put off by nativity scenes... they always kinda look like they just happened to find baby Jesus just lying around and don't quite know what to do with him.

Once you move on from the nativity scene, you quickly realise that this is more than a simple Christmas display. In fact, it's more a celebration of childhood than anything else. The displays consist of a number of fairytale and children song motifs.
The Fairy and her magic toadstools
I'm not entirely sure about what nursery rhyme this house comes from... Anyone have any ideas?...

 Actually, I've read on one website that it was described as the nativity inn... surely not. Knock knock...Hello people, the story is set in Bethlehem... on the West Bank in what used to be Palestine. Not the bleeding Swiss Alps! Oh well...I shouldn't get upset, but I think that may be taking just a few too many artistic licences with the story. Time changes everything.

Actually, it's amazing how much difference even a year can make. This time we were sweltering under 40-45degreeC temperatures. This year, we were struggling to get over 20 degrees. In fact, about 2 or so weeks ago storms ripped through Adelaide and dumped about 40+ mm of rain in one night. As a result, the Torrens river peaked 5m higher than normal damaging some of the displays. In fact, some of the displays are still missing
L-kun looks around... no floods tonight, Daddy?
One of the favourites is Vulcan and his volcanic workshop. He stands in his lair, hammering away relentlessly at his anvil. What's he making?... Most probably a door for some privacy. The thing that children love is that every so often the volcano belches out a column of smoke...

And as he hammers away, there are choreographed and timed sparks flying... accompanied by bellowing bangs and clangs. Actually, in close up it looks something more suitable to a Tarantino flick than a Christmas display. But this is a G-rated blog, so I'll leave it at that.

And another favourite is Moby Dick... hey - wasn't he a white whale? Clearly that would  be breaching copyright or something. We're kinda lucky that Moby made it at all... during the recent floods he was dislodged and almost made good an escape. He was clearly remembering the floods of 2005 when there really were huge water flows that took poor Moby on a ride several kilometres towards the sea. He almost did a Free Willy as well. They've increased security (and chains) since then however.

T-chan and L-kun look on... as will over 100,000 people over the month long display. Yeah, I guess Adelaide's a small town that we make a big deal about these sorts of things. Still, isn't it good to see the joy in even the small things?

Certainly Snow White did... er... I mean... platonic joy that is... I guess. Then again, who knows what went on in the wee hours of the night...

The Ferris Wheel is another focal point... the carriages depicting children from all around the world. A nice thought, but somewhat reduced in impact when set alongside Dorothy, The Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Lion (off to the left) from Wizard of Oz.  

Still, the reflection in the river makes for a nice view...

Another of the attractions, at the eastern end of the display is the carousel of toys... with all manner of different gifts.... at least I assumed they were toys...

The teddy bear seems a safe bet...aw, isn't he cute.

Maybe even the dragon (though the wind-up "Chinaman" was a little disturbing, and not the sort of thing I'd expect to find in my stocking come Christmas morn).

But then we get to the pièce de résistance, the ballerina. Is it me, or did they spend just a little too much time working up her curves?

I'm not entirely sure if the following is a symptom of the growing chorus of political correct mania, but good old Frosty the Snowman used to sport a pipe (stuck nonchalantly from his mouth). This year that's no more... Another less "big brother" reason for this social censoring could be that the good (but admitedly unhealthy) pipe got washed out to sea with the recent floods. Either, Frosty's looking like he's got a case of the cold turkeys. Ganbatte Frosty. You can do it.

And now we come to the highlight of the night.... with a hi-ho, and the stomping of reindeer feet (lead of course by Rudolf and his nose)... we know Christmas is just around the corner...

When Santa Claus' sley makes an appearance with his rocking reindeer.
Merry Christmas one and all!

Oh Santa-san, you crazy guy. You bring so much happiness to my son's life - even though we know he already knows who's really putting the presents under the tree. Mr American Express and his wife Visa. Still, L-kun will get quite upset if you even suggest that Santa may not stop over because (a) he's been naughty, (b) the house is too messy, or (c) coz Santa's knocked back a few to many "Christmas Cheers" to warm himself up on the long sleigh ride around the world...

And as we were about to depart... L-kun spotted something off in the distance...

A motorbike ride! Ok - Daddy will ride with you... let's hit the road, bikie man!

So it was a good night... though L-kun didn't get to bed till around 10pm (that's a bit too late, but every now and again doesn't hurt). Also, a good smile and laughter is worth a whole night of sleep to a person's heart. It was a great night, and even though it was a lot cooler this year, it was still a great experience. We'll have to try and go back again before the year is out.

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