“Moomba”, we don’t know what it means. Some say it is a cheeky combination of certain words from the indigenous language, which brings forth the head-scratching meaning of “up your bum”. Some quickly disagree and insist that the word merely means- “let’s get together and have fun”.
Regardless of the etymology of the word, the Moomba Festival has done it once again. Throngs of Melbournians headed over to the St Kilda Road at around 11 a.m. today to witness the excitement of the annual parade. The short stretch of road from the Shrine of Remembrance to Linlithgow Avenue of around 300 metres in distance came alive with so much vitality and energy. People were cheering, waving their little Moomba Festival flags and snapping photographs excitedly during the entire one hour of the spectacular procession.
If you missed the Moomba Festival this year, here are the 5 highlights of the 2016 parade to remind you why you should definitely attend it next year:
1. The colourful cultures
Melbourne is an extremely culturally diverse place. Just sit in a tram for 5 minutes and listen to the everyday commuters around you; you might be able to catch 5 to 6 different languages conversing all at the same time.
Some statistics estimate that almost half of the Melbournians was born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas; more than 200 languages and dialects are spoken in this amazing place, in addition to the 40 aboriginal languages used in the state of Victoria.
It was so heart-warming to watch people of different cultural backgrounds proudly showcasing their colourful heritage in the parade; the indigenous with their bodies and faces painted with white ochre, playing the didgeridoo and clapsticks - their distinctive musical instruments made of branch tree and wood; the petite Indonesian girls in their beautiful traditional costumes of Kebaya with golden embroidery; the stunning Indian women in their gorgeous Sari and their exquisite head ornaments and accessories; the Papua New Guineans with their distinguished face-painting and prominent head coverings made of feathers; the Caribbeans in their flamboyant glittering costumes.
It was awesome and I love them all!
2. The golden age citizens and their remarkable energy
The senior groups in their white silver hair were busy showing off their pedaling skills on the vintage bicycles and penny-farthing with giant wheels, as well as displaying their ability to dance and shake that can easily put many youngsters to shame.
3. The floats designed by the young creative artists
Most of the floats were designed by the talented Melbourne children, including a gigantic pirate ship with a talking golden mermaid twitching her bare shoulders seductively at the cheering audiences; a cool Flying Man with a close-fitting superhero outfit who kept throwing soccer balls at the audiences; a cute Recycling Monster made of shredded papers and recycled boxes, who roared persistently at the audiences and kept wondering whether he sounded scary enough. Truly spectacular!
4. The Moomba King and Queen
The Moomba monarchs Michelle Payne and her brother Stevie Payne are definitely one of the highlights of the procession. Michelle Payne is the first female jockey that won the Melbourne Cup in its 155 years of history, breaking a history in the chauvinistic sport of horse racing in Australia. His brother, Stevie Payne, is her strapper and has Down syndrome. Stevie Payne was awarded the Tommy Wookcock Cup during the Melbourne Cup of 2015, an award named after the strapper of the Australian legendary racehorse Phar Lap.
All attendees cheered in exhilaration when the King and Queen approached. The pair is undeniably a popular choice for the monarchs of Moomba this year.
5. The dance, music, and the Chinese dragon
I can't name them all. But it was a true delight joining the crowds cheering for the amazing dance troupes, the crew from the State Emergency Services, the solemn as well as the funky musical bands, and the largest Chinese dragon in the world.
Will I come back again next year? Definitely!