Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack
Podcast Number 78 – Where the Country Meets the City – The Royal Melbourne Show
Most Australians live in the big cities. Even so, Australia has always been, since European settlement, a major producer of farm or agricultural products. Indeed, our first major industry was wool, grown from merino sheep. Today, wool is not so important, but agriculture overall still earns around 12% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product or national income. Today, our top 6 biggest agricultural products are beef, followed by wheat, dairy products, fruit and nuts, vegetables and wool. These products, and many others, are produced by Australia’s farmers and graziers, who own around 60% of Australia’s land. There are around 300,000 people employed directly in agriculture in Australia, which is around 2.5% of Australia’s workforce. Yet this relatively small number of people grow 93% of our food and contribute to earning a large piece of our national income. In fact, they grow enough food to feed 60 million people in Australia and around the world.
It’s easy to forget how important agriculture is to us all. That’s why, every year around Australia, those organisations who represent our farmers and graziers organize agricultural shows in our cities and major towns. These shows bring the best from the farms of Australia and show all Australians just how good our agricultural products are. In this podcast, I would like to tell you a little about the agricultural shows in Australia, in particular the Royal Melbourne Show.
The Royal Melbourne Show was first held in 1848. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is even older and was first held in 1823. These types of shows are not unique to Australia but have always been very popular here. It’s an opportunity for farmers to show how good their products are and to win prizes for having the best animal, produce or product. But these shows are much more than just a show of agricultural products, as interesting as that is. They also have entertainment, amusement rides, special agriculture related sporting events such as wood chopping, fireworks display, animal exhibits and the great Australian tradition of show bags.The Royal Melbourne Show is held annually in September for a period of around 10 days and is organized by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. It is held at the Melbourne Showgrounds which is near the centre of Melbourne. These showgrounds occupy 19 hectares and have 60,000 square metres of undercover exhibition space in large pavilions. There are also two large outdoor arenas with seating for many thousands of spectators. It’s huge. The showgrounds are only 7 kilometres from the city centre and even have their own train station so getting to them is no problem.
The list of things to do at the show is long – you can be there all day and not see everything. You can check out the farm animals pavilion, dog and cat competitions, fresh food pavilions, art, craft and cookery pavilion, the wood chopping, the animal nursery with young farm animals, the horse events in the main arena, the amusement rides for the brave hearted and more. At night there are fireworks and entertainment.
For me, the most interesting aspect of the Royal Show is the animals. After all, the real purpose of the show is to celebrate Australian farmers and their produce. When you think of farms, you think of animals. The animal categories in the 2016 Royal Melbourne Show are beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, horses, goats, alpacas, pigs and poultry. Cats and dogs are also a big part of the show. The animals are housed in the huge pavilions. A key aspect of the show is the awarding of prizes for the best animal in each breed and class. It is the prestige of winning which is so important for the farmers and graziers. It must mean a lot to a farmer if he or she can bring their best farm animal to the Royal Show and have it judged as the best in it’s class. That’s a big tick of approval. It means their farm gets a reputation for quality and that means they can get a higher price when they sell their animals at the market. I am always amazed by the size of the bulls in particular. They are gigantic animals and yet they seem quite docile. The people who do the judging must really know their stuff – what to look for and what makes a quality animal. To me they all look the same, but then, I’m not a farmer.I love the smell of the animal pavilions. It’s like being on a farm for a day. It is also a great place to take children, as they get the opportunity to mingle with, and touch, young farm animals. What an experience for city children who would normally never get to see farm animals!
The Royal Show is also about being entertained on a crazy ride. There are many exciting rides, most of which I would never go on. Some people love to be scared out of their wits by going on a crazy ride which flings them high into the air and back down again. Oh no, not for me.
One uniquely Australian Royal Show experience is to buy a show bag. A show bag is a collection of samples, usually around a specific theme and mostly aimed at children. Examples include sweets, toys, snacks, chocolates, etc. Originally they were free and were a way of advertising a product or brand. These days, a show bag will cost around $20 and have a range of samples. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you will get more value in the bag than it costs, so they are very popular. The bag itself is always colourful and the contents make the eyes of a child light up with glee. All up, taking a family to the Royal Show can cost a lot, especially when you add in a show bag or two. But as it is only once a year, it’s worth it. Going to the show is what childhood memories are made of.
If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast. I will write back to you, in English of course. If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.
Podcast 78 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?
0 of 10 questions completed
You can take the quiz as many times as you like.
You have already completed the quiz before. Hence you can not start it again.
Quiz is loading...
You must sign in or sign up to start the quiz.
You have to finish following quiz, to start this quiz:
0 of 10 questions answered correctly
Time has elapsed
You have reached 0 of 0 points, (0)
If you got all the questions right, well done! If you got some questions wrong, don’t worry. It’s normal for language learners to take time to develop their understanding.
Question 1 of 10
True or False? – Wool was Australia’s first major industry, but today it is the 6th biggest agricultural product.Correct
Question 2 of 10
True or False? – Australia’s workforce in agriculture only grows enough food to feed 93% of Australia’s population.Correct
Question 3 of 10
True or False? – The main purpose of the Royal Melbourne Show is to give entertainment to the city people of Melbourne.Correct
Question 4 of 10
True or false? – The Melbourne Showgrounds are close to the city and are easy to get to.Correct
Question 5 of 10
True or False? – Rob thinks the most interesting aspect of the Royal Melbourne Show is the show bags.Correct
Question 6 of 10
True or False? – If a farmer wins a prize for his or her animal, it means they have produced a quality product on their farm.Correct
Question 7 of 10
True or False? – Rob thinks that the Royal Melbourne Show has many great things for children.Correct
Question 8 of 10
True or False? – Rob really enjoys the rides at the Royal Melbourne Show.Correct
Question 9 of 10
True or False? – Show bags are popular because you get more value than the price you pay.Correct
Question 10 of 10
True or False? – Rob would like to go to the Royal Melbourne Show more than once a year if he could.Correct
amusement rides = a ride on a machine which is just for fun
arena = a large area of flat ground where a crowd can watch a game or other event
aspect = one part of something
brave hearted = when someone is not afraid of something
breed = a type of animal
bulls = a male equal of a cow
categories = groups
celebrate = to be with others and to be happy about something
collection = a group of things, usually of one type
contents = what is inside
contribute = to help
dairy = things made from cows milk
directly = without anyone or anything between
docile = when someone or something is easily handled, not wild
employed = to be working for a company
entertainment = when you are watch something which makes you happy. For example, a film
European settlement = when people came from Europe to live in Australia, starting in 1788.
exhibition space = a place where you can show a collection of things to people
flings = to throw
gigantic = very large
glee = happiness
graziers = people who have a farm with cattle or sheep
Gross Domestic Product = the amount of money a whole country earns
guaranteed = when something is certain to happen
hectare = an area 100 metres long and 100 metres wide
housed = put into
huge = very large
in particular = when talking about one thing or group of things
industry = a group of people and businesses which make a product or service
merino = a type of sheep
mingle = to mix
nursery = a place where baby animals are kept, or a room where human babies are kept
occupy = to fill up a space
opportunity = when you have a chance to do something which you can’t do at another time
organisations = groups of people who work together
pavilions = a very large building with only 1 room.
period = an amount of time. For example, 2 months.
prestige = when other people think you are very good at something
pretty much = almost
prizes = an award for doing something really well
products = the things sold in shops and businesses
related = when one thing is connected to something else
relatively = when compared to other things of the same type
represent = to speak for someone else
reputation = when you are known for something
sample = an example of something, usually a small amount
scared out of their wits = when you are very afraid
specific = one of many
spectators = the people who watch a game of sport or an event
tick of approval = when there is agreement that something is very good
unique = when something is like nothing else
wood chopping = cutting a large log with an axe
workforce = all the people who are working in a place, region or country