lighthouse logo

Chapter Twelve


[Next] [Contents] [Home] [Bottom of Page]

When the children were quite small, I had seen an ad for a kite flying festival at Bondi. I made a small tissue paper diamond kite with a smiley face on it and we went to BondI on the appointed Sunday. To our surprise we found thousands of other people had turned out and we all had a wonderful time. The following year, we enrolled in a kite making workshop prior to the festival and built, under the tutelage of a very strange art teacher, potter and colour consultant, a very elaborate hexagon kite called "Kaleidoscope". Our second Festival of the Winds was even more enjoyable than the first and we met the founders of the Australian Kitefliers Society. The Society was the invention of John Silk, a perennial student, whose partner was employed by Waverley Council and who had been given the job of organizing something for the State Government's spring festival, Carnivale.

The Festival of the Winds was to become so successful that, many years later, when someone was trying to move Carnivale to January, I was able to say that whatever anyone did with the programme and even if there was absolutely no publicity, all the people would come to BondI on the second Sunday of September to fly their kites anyway. I must have been convincing because the festival continued in September.

We joined the AKS and attended the monthly fly-ins at whatever site had been nominated. We later determined that most people preferred to meet at Tanya Park overlooking the harbour at Balgowlah Heights because the superb flying conditions more than made up for the travelling involved. Tanya Park was not an approved place for kiteflying. One of our members who lived nearby spent many years trying to get Manly Council to put No Kiteflying signs up for some of the area so that the rest would be available to us by default but he never succeeded. The council had installed automatic watering under the oval without telling anybody. At the next meeting, we all set up our various tables, chairs and sun umbrellas and settled in for lunch and a peaceful afternoon of kiteflying when suddenly the sprinklers popped up and we were all drenched. We had some disagreements over the years with other users of the park. On one occasion I had made a parachuting bear and, on its first successful parachute jump, it landed on the cricket field where some little kids were playing the end of year competition final. The fathers were ropable but the kids were much amused.

I eventually became Secretary and in due course was able to have the members agree to having an imaginary President, Albert K Sullivan. It seemed to me that a the notion of kiteflying society was something of an oxymoron, because kiteflying is best done with no other kites competing for airspace, and therefore a kiteflying society deserves an unusual management structure. Albert would report to the Society at the Festival of the Winds each year sending his greetings and thoughts on all kinds of topical subjects from wherever in the world he happened to be at the time. It fell to me to deliver these reports. One year, Waverley Council had elected a Liberal party hack to be Mayor. She had done some very unhelpful things like having picnic shelters with pointy roof adornments put in the park we used for the kiteflying and had made herself generally unpopular with the members of AKS so Albert's report had some scathing things to say. After I had delivered Albert's report I was amused to hear the Mayor telling one of her minders "Make sure I never have to share a platform with THAT man again!"

Each year we tried to put on some kind of exhibition in the gallery at the BondI Pavilion. One year John Silk did a marvellous thing about a strange Irish scientist who flew kites after dark trying to capture the true nature of the night. In one of the displays there was a chain-mail vest which he had to wear because the locals, thinking him either evil or insane, would throw stones at him when he went kiteflying.

It was decided that we needed a kite competition at the Festival and somebody conned Malaysian Airlines into donating a trip to the Kite Festival in Kalimantan in Indonesia as the prize. I was horrified at the thought but put together some rules for the competition which included the rule that only amateur kite-makers were eligible and recruited some totally independent judges for the event. It all went without a hitch and the prize went to a deserving member of the Society.

The society got into the hands of some newer guys who decided to incorporate, insure and generally organise the Society in a formal way so Albert K Sullivan passed into history. The last time I went to the Festival of the Winds, the Society had fenced off a part of the beach for their private use and I realised that all traces of the original spirit of the Kite-flyers Society had gone for good.

I built many kites, over the years, some small and some huge. My collection had reached well over a hundred before I had to downsize it to fit in the Motley. I still carry a flock of birds, a Jalbert Parafoil and a multi-flare big enough to fly the amazing parachuting bear. One year, I entertained the assembled motorhomers at Marti's Balloon Fiesta with a dramatic parachute jump.

hr> [Top of Page] [Next] [Contents] [Home]
Created: 29/1/07 and last revised 6/2/07
Author: Robin Chalmers Copyright in all the material on this site is asserted by the author
Contact the webmaster