Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, May 09, 2011

What's become of the Southern Highlands?

I know some people who decided to participate in this event, because it sounded like fun. Personally, I can almost understand that.
Photo: Clint Crawley - Pilot: Peter Clisdell

But when society at large finds it necessary to participate in an event which is actually a Publicity Stunt for a commercial Theatrical Event in Sydney, I step back and ask myself: "What's going on?"

Mary Poppins World Record Attempt
Saturday 7 May - Were You There?
In one of the most magical days anyone was
likely to experience,
2115 umbrellas were raised for 10 minutes
to form
the BIGGEST ever umbrella mosaic in history,
smashing the existing world record of 1026,
set in Serbia in 2009.

National media coverage has seen
the image below spread far and wide.
Event organisers,
Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council (SHYAC)
expresses their thanks to
all who made this feat possible,
including all the volunteers, participants and sponsors.

TSH Executive Manager, Steve Rosa said
"the event has set the platform for us
to build on this as a major tourism experience
and hopefully see the introduction of
an annual Parkes 'Elvis' like festival".

SHYAC Guinness World Record Attempt
2.05pm Saturday 7 May 2011


Anonymous said...

Well you posted a photo of it Denis... and yes, it's commercial but it's hardly harmful or unethical and doesn't really smell all that badly of consumerism so while it's of course ok for you to make your point, I'm not sure why you think it is very important to 'ask questions' in this particular instance. There is even an attractive, if admittedly faint, odour of 'art' there somewhere...
(I didn't participate, in fact I would not have known what all those people were doing in Bowral the other day had I not seen your post-event publicity.)

Flabmeister said...


Am I correct to assume TSM is an acronym for "Tourism Southern Highlands"? If so they are likely to burble positively about anything that gets a couple of punters into the area.

At least raising umbrellas is fairly harmless: imagine what they could do with wheel-standing trail bikes!


catmint said...

I quite agree, this sort of activity is a good activist technique, and there was also the naked group photo. This one is comparatively very sedate.

Paul McShane said...

Hi Denis, Paul McShane here, the chief organiser of the event and Vice-President of the Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council (SHYAC). Just to clarify that the Mary Poppins event was non-commercial being organised by SHYAC, a non-profit volunteer-based organisation. There was no sponsorship or direct connection with the Disney show in Sydney other than the timing of our event with the week of their opening (it helped us get free publicity as unlike Disney we had hardly any money for advertising).

The main purpose was to publicise Bowral's historical connection with the author PL Travers and the creation of her most famous character while she was a teenager living here 100 years ago. This is part of a campaign to build a life-size bronze statue of Mary Poppins as a piece of public art and visitor attraction in Glebe Park, next to the Bradman Museum and just a block from where the author lived.

It was a free event with the option for people to make a donation to the project and almost everyone involved, including myself, were volunteers. Of course we had sponsors and contractors and the Tourism industry can benefit - along with the whole community - but I'd hate to think that people were given the impression it was a Disney publicity stunt.

Thanks for your blog post on the event and the opportunity to clarify those points.

We have had extraordinary reaction from people who were there - I'm calling it the "Bowral Woodstock" - as well as umbrellas there was lots of peace and love in the air :-)

More info at



Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Paul
I was not "having a go" at you people for organising it.
I personally referred the previous publicity to some friends in Robertson, who did attend, and did enjoy it.
But I am allergic to the hijacking of your event by the Tourism Southern Highlands.
All power to SHYAC.

Rick said...

Hi Paul,

I love this photo! What a great event!
How did you manage to get the Mary Poppins outline onto the oval so people knew where to stand?
The proportions look great from the sky, but I imagine its not easy making the outline on the ground.

Rick from Balmain.