A Guide To Mardi Gras For First-Time Attendees, Participants, And Spectators

Here's everything you need to remember before a night you'll never forget.

If you’ve never attended Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras before, never fear: we’ve put together this handy guide to help you out, whether you’re participating in the parade, watching from the sidelines, heading to an after-party, or looking for other ways to get involved. Let’s crack on!

First things first, Mardi Gras in Australia is not the same as the Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the beads and public drunkenness, although our Mardi Gras tends to involve a bit of that too.

Mardi Gras dates back to 1978, when a group of protestors commemorated the 1969 Stonewall Riot in New York by organising a protest in the morning, and a street party/parade in the evening. Unfortunately, during the evening parade, marchers were targeted and assaulted by police, and 53 protestors were arrested, held without charge, and outed when their names were published in the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald. 

The protestors who marched in 1978 march in the parade every year, and are known as the ’78ers’.

Now that we’ve got that brief history lesson out of the way, it’s on to the survival guide!

Participating in the parade

If you want to participate in the parade, you’ll need to get in early. The kinds of floats found in the parade range from corporate floats to political floats to government floats to community organisation floats. So there are floats from companies like ANZ, Holden, Sydney Dance Company, SBS and AccorHotels alongside floats from ACON, Rainbow Families, the Greens, Fire & Rescue NSW, and several different sports teams.

If you’re already involved with an organisation that has a float, that makes things much easier. If not, some floats let members of the public sign up, or sell tickets to participate; Heaps Gay and GIRLTHING are two examples of floats you can buy tickets for a couple of months in advance, and groups like Bi+ Visibility often put calls out on Facebook for parade participants.

If you’re not that prepared, you might have to resign yourself to watching from the sidelines this year, and just remember to get in early for next year’s parade.

If you’re participating in the parade, I cannot stress this enough: wear comfortable shoes. They may not complete your outfit, but your feet will thank you after the walk down Oxford Street.

In addition, have water with you, but don’t drink too much, because once you’re locked inside the park before the parade, bathroom options are limited.

And my last piece of advice, because nobody told me about this and it was a surprise my first year: know how you’re getting home from the park at the end of the route. You finish inside a giant park and the nearest taxis and public transport options are a bit of a walk away, so figure something out in advance. And take a phone charger so you aren’t stuck in a giant park, alone, with a dead phone.

Watching the parade

Presumably, if you’re watching from home, you don’t need advice from me on that. Sit on the couch, turn on SBS, and enjoy. It’s pretty straightforward.

If you want to get a bit closer to the action, there are several locations along the parade route where you can make camp for the evening, including an accessible area that you need to register for.

Take something to sit on, as well as water and snacks, and be prepared to get there early and never leave, lest you lose your spot.

Or, if you’re happy to walk, a hot tip is to start at the end of the parade route and make your way towards Hyde Park. That way, you see everything, and aren’t stuck in one spot the whole night!

Attending an after party

When it comes to Mardi Gras after parties, you’re spoiled for choice. There’s the official Mardi Gras Party, with tickets selling for over $180, that features Pnau, Kim Petras, Jake Shears and Courtney Act.

For the more budget-conscious, there are heaps of other options. Heaps Gay and GIRLTHING are two popular choices, but they aren’t the only parties out there! Max Watt’s is having one, as is Klub Koori. In fact, most bars and pubs have things planned for Saturday night, but many of them require tickets, so get in early!

If partying isn’t your thing

If large, loud parties aren’t really your thing, I see you. And the people behind Mardi Gras do too, because there’s actually an entire festival program beyond the parade itself!

There are thought-provoking panels at Queer Thinking, lots of art exhibitions, a film festival, plays and performances, and even a Zoo Walk. Plus, there’s Fair Day, which includes musical performances, food trucks, over 200 stalls, and a dog pageant.

While a lot of these events take place throughout February, there’s still a bunch of events you can catch before the Mardi Gras Festival finishes on Sunday, so check out the program here.

However you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a fantastic time, because your first Mardi Gras is something you aren’t likely to forget any time soon.

Sydney Uni Researchers Want To Pit Sydney's Rats And Cockroaches Against Each Other

The new cats vs. dogs.

Sydney is known for a few things, but if you’re an Australian who isn’t from Sydney, you probably associate it with two things: rats and cockroaches. Maybe also the Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge, and the lockout laws, and Bondi Beach, and CityRail… but obviously, the rats and cockroaches are the most important Sydney icons, at least for the purposes of this article.

Researchers at the University of Sydney have been given the green light to look into training rats to hunt cockroaches, according to Ten.

Leading the charge is Peter Banks, Professor in Conservation Biology, and Big Fan of Rats (or at least a Big Fan of Studying Them).

Despite their reputation, Banks says that water rats are actually a good thing because they deter invasive species. But he wants to take that a step further, and train them to hunt cockroaches, which would presumably result in an incredibly Battle Royale in the middle of George Street.

Banks told Ten:

“The general idea is to try and pre-arm species with the ability to recognise invaders before they actually land in the spot.”

If their experiment is successful, Banks and his team will move on to training rats to hunt the Asian House gecko. It seems that Professor Banks will not rest until rats are able to eradicate almost anything. Where will it stop? What if rats learn how to hunt… humans?!

I think we can take them.

Anyway, in the spirit of rats fighting cockroaches, I’ve come up with some other animal battles that I’d like to see happen.

  1. Cane toads vs. cassowaries: Two of Australia’s most annoying creatures. No matter who loses, we all win.
  2. Tortoises vs. rabbits: Pretty sure Aesop was onto something.
  3. Echidnas vs. platypuses: ALL-MONOTREME DEATH-MATCH!
  4. Kookaburras vs. Indian mynas: Firstly, we’ll need to train the kookaburras, to ensure they can defeat those irritating invasive mynas. Then we’ll feed them sausages as a reward.

So whose team are you on? Team Rat, or Team Cockroach? Personally, I’m on Team Rat. Fuzzy things trump bugs every single time. Plus, they can be cute. Cockroaches are irredeemably disgusting. Go rats, go!

Sydney's Light Rail Project Is Going To Be Delayed, Again, Because They Found Human Remains In Surry Hills

Happy day-before-Halloween!

Human remains were discovered yesterday by contractors working on Sydney’s light rail project in the CBD.

The remains were found on Chalmers Street in Surry Hills, and were confirmed by a forensic anthropologist to be human remains.

According to the Sydney Morning Heraldthe discovery isn’t being treated as suspicious, because authorities suspect these remains are associated with the former Devonshire Street Cemetery, which was relocated in 1901 to make way for Central Station.

This is yet another setback for the light rail project, which has been delayed several times already, and which currently has an opening date of May 2020.

If horror movies have taught me anything, it’s that the discovery of those bones means the construction of the light rail is now officially cursed. Keep an eye out for ghosts or vengeful spirits next time you’re near Central.

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