As the song from Mary Poppins rightly suggests, flying a kite can be a cheap, enjoyable, and magical experience for children and adults alike. This is especially true when the kite is significantly larger and more sophisticated than the traditional butchers paper diamond with tied-bow tail configuration.
Luckily, nowadays there are many different kinds of themed kites which come in many sizes and shapes. All of which tend to appear at Bondi annually in September for the Festival of the Winds. Last weekend, on the 13th of September 2015, I trundled down to Bondi Beach to check out the creative kites soaring en-mass across our azure Australian skies.
This was now my second year attending the Festival of the Winds, so I basically knew what to expect; crowds, sand, kites, getting tangled in kite strings because small children were running around trailing a kite behind them. Despite this, I was still amazed at the diversity and quality of the kites flying against the blue sky. As I stepped off the bus and looked out towards the sparkling ocean, all I could see was a mass of fluttering, colourful shapes playing across the skyline.
The festival draws many local and international kite flyers who bring out an amazing variety of themed, traditional, and multiple stringed kites to compete for the title of “Best Kite EVAR!”. Ok, this isn’t strictly true, although there are several competitions for the kites including the official competition as well as community competitions including best themed and best made, winners of all of these being announced at the end of the day.
The first group of kites encountered, as I wandered down towards the beachfront from the southernmost end of the promenade, were the large, specially designed kites entered into the official major competition of the festival. The ones which struck me the most was a set of three stingray creatures, one of which sported a yawning mouth filled with pointy teeth! As the winds buffeted them this way and that, occasionally dipping sharply before regaining altitude, they appeared to be swimming elegantly through the air, the effect being exemplified by their long, vented tails.
The other notable major competition kites were comprised of an extremely cheerful turtle (highly reminiscent of those from Finding Nemo), a dolphin (which sadly didn’t appear high enough to catch enough wind to fill it out, leaving the kite with a disturbing, anorexic look), a determined red dragon (whose mission that afternoon appeared to be dive-bombing the turtle), a bunch more turtles, a happy crocodile and blue iguana pair, and a seal.
Moving further along the beach, I was amazed by the flamboyant colours flashing from the multi-kite lines. The most notable were two sets of rainbow kites; each line had six kites attached with the kite colours ranging from red through to purple. I considered the colour arrangement clever, as looking from the ground, the richer colours blended with the sand and towels of beach goers whilst the greens, blues, and purples almost blended into the sky. Another multi-kite line features kites bearing printed images of country flags, Australia included!
Being a public community event, there were many kite enthusiasts out flying their bought and self made kites as well. The ones which immediately caught my eye were a set of three black and stained-glass designed kites. These kites were easily 2 metres wide and therefore made a striking appearance against the azure sky. Another notable, fun kite I spied, was a small pirate ship which fluttered low to the ground, corkscrew style tail busily whirling in the breeze, with a small child clinging gleefully onto the line.
As I hadn’t brought my own monstrosity of a kite, I decided to wander over the vendor stalls to see what was on offer. It was delightful to see Kite Magic (http://www.kitesite.com.au/), the local kite shop at Coogee, at the festival selling high quality themed kites in large and small sizes, as well as handheld wind spinners. That time of the afternoon there wasn’t a lot of stock left and it was easy to see why; smiling children scattered every which way from the stall with their parents, eager to test their new toy.
Finally, it was time to leave. One last glance back at the colourful flutterings against the beachfront skyline, and I turned resolutely to face the horrendous line for the buses.
For more information about the Festival of the Winds, and to check out past and future festival dates, click on the link below: