Australasian Convention 15 – 17 July 2005 in Sydney, NSW

   Posted by: Julia Redlich   in


It was a modest but dedicated group of Ricardians who gathered for the biennial conference of the Australian and New Zealand Branches from July 15-17, 2005, at Sydney University, New South Wales.  Many of the participants had travelled great distances to take part, such as flying across the Tasman Sea or driving for twelve hours or more.

Friday evening saw delegates meet at the college venue (suitably decorated with a portrait of Richard, white roses and display boards of matters Ricardian) before heading to the nearby Peasants’ Feast restaurant and some delicious food (not turnip soup as some feared!) and good wine, before returning to view Tony Robinson’s programme Richard III – Fact or Fiction (thanks to Geoffrey Wheeler for supplying us with the video). 

The conference proper commenced on Saturday morning and, to give us all an overview of the subject, our Ricardian brains were warmed up by a challenging quiz.  For the next two days we were then entertained by talks on heraldry, the origins of the Wars of the Roses, battle statistics, medieval crimes, the fate of survivors, turning history into fiction and portraits of some of the main players of the period.  There was extensive, lively discussion about the particular problems faced by the Australasian Branches of the Society.

The local Branches boast a number of members keen on dramatic art.  Not only are they keen, but also very talented!  Throughout the weekend we were entertained by dramatic portrayals of the period, some with a basis in fact, others, well, not so…  Who would have thought that in a performance where the audience was able to choose who inherited the Crown of England by voting off those they deemed unsuitable in true TV’s Big Brother style that Mistress Jane Shore should be the eventual winner!


Candle Ceremony

On Saturday night we gathered for our banquet, but first candles were lit to represent each Branch and Group of The Richard III Society, including one for individual members.  In this way, a ritual at all our conferences, we are linked to Ricardians worldwide.  Toasts were drunk to The Queen, our patron the Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III and The Richard III Society, the wine being a Battle of Bosworth shiraz from South Australia, something the NSW Branch knew they had to provide, especially when they learned the manager of the wine outlet was called Richard.


Rather late in the evening, when sleep should have been a priority, a never-say die group of revellers descended on the Star City Casino in the heart of Sydney.  Tragically (actually deliberately in the hope of attracting publicity for our cause – never let a chance go by, we say) we were still in costume and that was all too much for security at Star City.  We were refused entrance because it seems that men in tights and wearing dresses and women in beautiful gowns and headdresses are persona non grata!  But our archbishop in his splendid robes was able to entertain many other visitors to the Casino who seemed much more taken by us than the management.  Surprisingly, the conference was able to resume right on time the next day.
Plans are under way for the next conference in 2007.  The tyranny of distance obviously plays a role for branches of the Richard III Society on the other side of the world from where it originated.  But loyal Australasian admirers of King Richard are determined to enjoy the company of the members of other branches and have the opportunity to learn more about his life and times.  So here’s to the next time.

by Helen Portus and Julia Redlich (NSW)