One of the things I was looking forward to this year (after moving from a year in New Zealand back to Brisbane) was The Ekka. The Ekka is short for the word exhibition in Brisbane Exhibition, and we don’t think of it as anything else! I have extremely fond memories of attending The Ekka as a child with my parents, and now it’s my turn to create memories for my own children. I can say, our day at the show didn’t disappoint! What a fun day!
A little bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to doing these sorts of family outings, and Brisbane Kids has a fabulous map and guide that can help (see it here) plus visit The Ekka website. The night before our family day, my husband and I wrote down a rough guide to what we planned to do in what sequence, and this ended up being perfect. The day ran extremely smoothly. You can find a snap shot of our day in the video below, or see further below for our specific plan how the day went. The other post that may be useful is one I wrote about tips for keeping kids safe in crowded places like The Ekka and you can read it here: Keeping Kids Safe in Crowded Places.
The original intent of the Brisbane Exhibition was to promote and encourage newly invented agricultural and industrial devices. Cattle and other farm animals were also exhibited during the show, a practice that continues today. But the heart, the heart is this: The Ekka provides “a unique opportunity for country and urban residents to come together in a celebration of Queensland lifestyle”¹. I love that!
- 1876: The first exhibition in Brisbane was held at Bowen Park in 1876
- 1877: The first ride was a merry-go-round
- 1919: First time the show had to be cancelled due to an influenza outbreak (it was also cancelled in 1942 due to World War II)
- 1984: The first firework display in the main arena
- 1926: The first night time program was held following the introduction of electric lighting
- 1950: Strawberry ice-cream & dagwood dogs were introduced.
- 1964: The animal nursery introduced
- 2000: Wood chop event redeveloped
Random fact: The first showbag was a bag of coal!
* Information via ‘Showtime— A History of the Brisbane Exhibition’ by Joanne Scottand Ross Laurie, 2008.
My favourite things about The Ekka are the strawberry sundae ice-cream (SO GOOD!) and the exhibits. I love all the exhibits: food, animals, everything! We love the Strawberry Sundae so much the it’s the first thing we did when we hit the grounds. Starting it right. During The Ekka, 6.2 tonnes of fresh Queensland strawberries are used, 830 litres of fresh cream, 22,500 litres of ice-cream with the help of 2,600 volunteers, and all to support The Prince Charles Hospital foundation.
Planning the Day
- Catch train in: It’s part of the fun and a really good way to get to the Ekka. There are heaps of trains running so you don’t have to wait long. We arrived at about 11:am. We didn’t want to go in too early because we planned to stay for the night show.
- Strawberry Sundae: Yum.
- Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion/Fine Arts/Agriculture Hall: We looked at the cakes, fresh food stalls, quilts, photography, stalls and aquarium.
- Rides: The Break Dance is a tradition! Rides are expensive so we only do a few.
- Animals: Visited the cattle and horse stalls and then on to the RACQ Animal Nursery.
- Heritage Bank Lumberjack show: a lot of puns and chainsaws.
- Night show: we like to settle there early to get a good seat. The show was really fun and exciting but it also had a good mix of tradition too.
- Fireworks: didn’t disappoint.
- Train home: weary, happy.
I loved the Ekka as a child and now I enjoy sharing that love with my own children. It’s about Brisbane, it’s about community; it’s about memories; it’s about this wonderful state we live in called Queensland.