The smell of spring is in the air, which means Surry Hills Festival is around the corner. Leaving the well-trodden grassy knoll of Prince Alfred Park, the festival moves to the new base of Ward Park and Shannon Reserve this year.

In celebration of the iconic suburb, local writer Alli Sebastian Wolf compiled a series of short stories, tracing the history of Surry Hills to provide inspiration to the festivals’ line-up of artists, musicians and entertainers. Below is an excerpt, but you can also read the full e-book of Surry Hills Stories.

Image from National Film and Sound Archives
Image from National Film and Sound Archives

Elephant on the Loose

Alli Sebastian Wolf

The circus didn’t come to Australia until more than 60 years after the First Fleet. But since then – despite wars, depressions and the rise of cinema, television and other forms of entertainment – it has never left. Economics has denied Sydney its own permanent circus, but since the very first circus in 1850*, hardly a year has gone by without a major circus visiting the city. There are hundreds of stories to go with these visits, but one of the most memorable for Surry Hills was the day an elephant escaped from the Wimbo Park Circus.

It started harmlessly enough on a hot day with trainers (in full sequins for the camera) taking a baby elephant from the circus at Wimbo Park down to the local car wash to scrub up for that night’s show. After splashing around delightedly in the jets of the car wash, the elephant broke away from its trainers and tore down Crown Street in an amazing (and quite possibly staged) tiny rampage, watched by delighted residents and chased by a single laughing man in a hat.

*The Royal Australian Equestrian Circus, opened in York Street in 1850

Surry Hills Festival is on from 10am–10pm on Saturday 27 September. It is an associated event of Art & About Sydney 2014. The Surry Hills Festival is proudly produced by the Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre, supporting the community.

Surry Hills Festival has been funded under the City’s cultural grants and sponsorship program. If you are looking to apply, contact Jennifer Trinca on , who’d be happy to chat about your application

Published: 16 Sep, 2014 | 0 Comments | Tags:

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