Red lanterns adorned the plaza. Dragons, dancing ladies in red, stalls and fun rides all around. The smell of food whiffed across the air. Clanging and banging of drums, firecrackers exploding. Northbridge was well and truly alive for the Chinese New Year Fair 2021. While the Year of the Ox officially began on February 12, the fair was held on February 14.
It was my first time at the carnival and I met with a group of photographers who were there to capture the occasion. My attention was immediately drawn to the gigantic ox in the centre of the precinct. Given that the photographers arrived early, we decided to wander around the many stalls and surrounding streets until the official celebrations started.
We returned to the main area just in time for the opening ceremony, where crowds had gathered to witness the firecrackers, dancers, drummers and dragons. Even the State Premier Mark McGowan was there in a suit and tie. That's what another photographer told me anyway. Being a somewhat shorter person, my view was obscured by the taller people all around. However, I did find a small space where I got a glimpse of the crowd. Maybe next year I can get some stilts. There were actually some performers on stilts so I’d blend in perfectly.
By the time the opening ceremony finished, I had walked around a lot and lost the other photographers. It was a very hot and humid day and I could sense myself sizzling like a barbecued Peking Duck. Despite the heat, I continued to explore.
Eventually I did find one of the other photographers. He was sweating so profusely, I thought he had gone swimming. YIKES! It really was THAT humid. Thankfully we did drink plenty of water. After a few hours though, we decided to call it a day.
Overall, the Chinese New Year Fair 2021 was a fun experience and I’ll be back. Well done to the organisers, they did a great job of putting it all together, particularly given the challenges of COVID. Wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year 2021, let’s hope that the Year of the Ox brings good fortune, prosperity and joy.
Just like surgeons ready to commence an operation, the photographers arrived wearing masks. It was a historic event. Before the gathering I felt a bit anxious, wondering whether we would recognise each other. Fortunately our cameras and unusual outfits gave us away. Apart from the masks, the photographers looked more like clowns than surgeons.
Surprisingly, the humidity was extreme and some of the photographers decided to have a picnic before we even started. They were extremely well prepared with an assortment of food and wine. One of the other photographers had already wandered off into the distance, sending us on a wild goose chase. It was futile because we didn’t encounter any geese in South Perth. Instead, there were plenty of seagulls, corellas, ducks, pelicans and darters.
The unmistakable cacophony of corellas, white birds covering the lawn just like snow. There were thousands of them. I was lured to the birds and spent a lot of time photographing both the corellas and seagulls. It was a challenge because they flew away if you got too close, and they moved quickly. I spent a lot of time on the ground, trying very hard to not sit on the bird droppings. I suppose the mask was useful in that I didn’t get to smell any of the bird poo. My patience paid off and I managed to get some good shots of the seagulls.
One of the photographers eventually scared away the white birds, just as the picnickers were ready to move to a different location. We all went on a leisurely stroll to the Coode Street Jetty. The view was magnificent. In one direction was the Swan River and Perth City Skyline, in the other were catamarans, food trucks and people. The place was packed. We were later joined by a group of teenagers who started jumping off the jetty, into the jellyfish infested water. The jellyfish were enormous. Interestingly, I noticed a sign that said, "Do not eat mussels or crab guts." I was more than happy to comply with that sign.
By the time we turned around, the picknickers in the group had already disappeared. They had set up a second round of picknicking at a park bench at a spectacular location by the catamarans. We joined them and watched the sunset together. It was a beautiful evening with a stunning red sky. Both a shepherd’s and a photographer’s delight.
Having to wear masks was an interesting and memorable experience. While they certainly served a purpose for preventing the spread of COVID, masks can also be helpful when encountering rancid smells. I am therefore keeping some spare masks for emergencies.
A few favourite photographs
The Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip is a photographer’s paradise. There are endless photo opportunities with the building’s stunning architecture and exhibits. On Sunday I visited the museum with a group of like-minded photographers. It was my third visit since the museum opened in late November.
We covered a lot of ground exploring all the floors of the museum, focusing on the architecture while remaining weird for the entire time. Ironically, we were so focused on taking our photographs that we weren’t so focused on each other. The museum is enormous and we lost each other numerous times during the visit. It was a bit like Where’s Wally with photographers. The only thing is that we weren’t wearing red and white stripes, or glasses like Wally. It’s definitely something to remember for next time.
The museum is a playground for both children and adults, not just for photographers. There are different exhibits over five floors, engaging all the senses including sight, touch, sound and smell. The museum is very accessible. While there are plenty of stairs, there are also escalators and elevators. Additionally, the museum has a café for those who want to take a break.
Before we knew it, a few hours flew by and we still had lots to see. At that point, the photographers decided to go on an adventure to find the cafe. It is tucked away in the corner of the museum and like hungry bloodhounds, we successfully sniffed our way there. The cafe was packed, therefore it was a challenge to find a table. However, we did find a table and had an enjoyable time.
Things changed suddenly when one of the photographers got a text message saying that Western Australia will be in lockdown due to COVID. Initially I didn’t believe it. We stayed at the cafe for a while and watched it become empty very quickly. We were probably among the last people to leave. At that point we farewelled each other, not knowing how much time the lockdown will last. I personally didn’t let that lower my spirits though. I was on a high from the adventure and also from the coffee.
Overall, it was an enjoyable day at the museum with an awesome group of people. It was also a very good photography day for me, with lots of photographs that I’m pleased with. The WA Museum Boola Bardip is definitely a photographer's paradise. It's an incredible place to visit and a must-see when you’re in Perth.
Favourite Photographs from WA Museum Boola Bardip