14 September 2019
Copi Hollow to Broken Hill and back, 204 km
It might seem that our travels are meticulously planned but really they are a series of thrown together ideas stitched together with a large degree of serendipity. In our adventures with Pintail it has always been pure coincidence that we have found ourselves in town for a local festival, like the sardine festival in Peniche, Portugal or carnival in Agios Nikoloas, Crete. Sometimes fate just steps in and puts us in the right place at the right time.
So to say I was beyond beside myself to discover that our journey towards Broken Hill just happened to bring us there as the Broken Heel festival took place is something of an understatement.
Did I mention I’m a big fan of the film Priscilla Queen of the Desert? Well, since becoming one of the unexpected stars of the film so is the town of Broken Hill. In homage to its narrative about three drag queens showing up in this outback town, the town invites drag kings and queens to perform for the weekend just as Berndette, Mitzi and Felicia did on the stage of the Palace Hotel.
So with our lakeside neighbours, Ronda and Graham, we set off to Broken Hill to see the Broken Heel festival for ourselves and watch the Saturday parade. The shops and cafes of the main drag (all puns intended!) had fully embraced the festival with window displays and decoration. Even our morning coffee came with a heel (not broken).
There were frills and sequins, rainbows and glitter everywhere
and we are fairly sure this isn’t the usual attire of Broken Hill’s residents but visitors and locals alike had seriously dressed up for the occasion. (I knew we should have packed a feather boa!)
Even the dogs entered into the spirit.
Young and old, dressed up or not, it seemed that everyone was out to watch the parade and Graham bagged himself a great spot in the middle of the road to watch from.
There was pre-parade entertainment in the town square from some of the stars of the festival’s cabaret shows.
And then the parade started and it was just like a wonderfully sunny Pride march right in the middle of the outback with the festival’s drag queens front and centre
along with Shirl, the iconic white vest wearing Broken Hill resident of the film.
The one float was followed by dressed up vehicles on four and two wheels including the local police
and then the walking floats, participants of the festival
and local and other community groups
but of course a lot of references to the film. There was no sense of the horrible homophobia the three drag queens of the film experienced, just a wonderfully friendly, fun, family day for everyone. It seems that 5 years after the first festival took place it has become firmly embraced in the town’s calendar.
Just as soon as the parade was over the streets of Broken Hill went quiet again – rainbow coloured feathers in the gutter the only reminder of the high camp of the afternoon.
There is serendipity and then there’s being in Broken Hill for the Broken Heel festival. I had to pinch myself to check I wasn’t dreaming.
And yes, because I know you are wondering, I did get the T-shirt!