For a change of pace, consider rugging up in your winter woolies and heading to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo, July 20 - 22nd 2012. The show is a great chance to meet farmers and appreciate the sheep and lamb products Australia is world famous for.
Coming from Melbourne, I'd suggest getting away early and making your first stop breakfast at the Bendigo Corner Store Café. Enjoy their organic coffee, free range produce (bacon, ham and eggs) as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options in a relaxed atmosphere. Located on View Street, the Bendigo Corner Store is just out of the CBD – making parking a non-issue - and 5 minutes from the Bendigo Showgrounds. It also has a play area for children outside.
The show is much like other agricultural shows, however the emphasis is on the animals and products rather than carnival rides. I feel this gives it an edge over other shows as it means there are fewer distractions and, let's be honest, nagging from children. You can spend time looking at the different sheep breeds (fans of Shaun the Sheep should look for the Black Suffolks), sheepdog trials, shearing and cooking demonstrations, fashion parades and the wool craft pavilions. There is also a market and food stalls to browse through, so you may come home with some socks, a dress or non-sheep products like honey or plants.
2012 looks like another good year for the show. I am keen to attend the Junior Masterchef Competition, watching as the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation take on ABC Radio on Saturday at 11am. There's also a class on cooking and carving lamb. Fashion parades are scheduled regularly on Saturday and Sunday – I'd suggest getting there early if you must sit. There is a real mix of hits and "no way would I ever wear that" in the fashion, which keeps the parades entertaining. A walk through the craft pavilions is great to see how talented and creative people are. Look out for all the brilliant shades of dye and watch people spinning yarn.
The Women of Wool Laugh@Lunch sounds great if you can make it on Friday July 20th – it will be hosted by comedienne Rachel Berger and will feature Deborah Hutton. At the time of writing there were still tickets available to this event that usually sells out.