Shisha in the Islamic section.

The Abbey Tournament is the biggest  medieval festival in the Southern hemisphere. Last year we went for one day, there was so much to see that this year we went for the weekend.

Queensland lived up to its old pre-flood and pre-cyclone Yasi tag of ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next.’ The winter mornings were cold, but they soon warmed up and we had two days of perfect, sunny weather.

March practice at the Janissary Barracks.

Fortune Teller caravan at the Shuvani Romani Kumpania campsite.

As I’ve been learning to belly dance for the past 18 months, and Chris had no special interest in any particular era, I ended up dragging him to lots of Turkish/Middle Eastern things at the Janissary Barracks, and we visited the beautiful and colourful campsite of the Shuvani Romani Kumpania several times. I love all the colours, drumming, music and dance of the Romanis, and the Kazuri Tribe, and danced in both of their workshops. It was basic beginners folk-step, and shimmies and things like that: a lot of fun. Unfortunately they didn’t trust us to dance with their veils or swords.




Poor Chris had to endure watching a lot of belly dancing over the weekend, but he didn’t complain. To balance things out, I made sure we watched some oiled-up men demonstrating Turkish oil wrestling: OK, so that was really for my benefit. The oil wrestling was one of the things I wanted to see last year but we didn’t have time. It was very physical and fun to watch, but I do hope they put sunscreen on before the oil, I’d hate to think they were dehydrating and frying in the heat. The lovely Kazuri Tribe ladies belly danced for us in between bouts, so there was no escape for Chris… again.

Kazuri Tribe ladies dancing.

I did sometimes manage to drag myself away from the belly dancers, (although distant drumming usually called me back). I mixed it up a bit with other eras and cultures so Chris wouldn’t get bored. One of the things we had to see was the jousting, which although very entertaining, was almost out-shone by the witty commentary. It’s worth the extra $2.00 on top of the entry fee to watch one bout of jousting, and they joust three times a day so it’s easy to work it around other reenactments of other eras in other areas.


We also managed to fit in knights and other gentlemen (and women,) fighting and fencing.

Fighting knights

Practicing swordplay

Other weapon demonstrations included; cannons, trebuchets, and archery. There were people performing Celtic songs, a harpist, and music on interesting instruments like the hurdy gurdy. We watched funny juggling jesters and graceful stilt-walkers, morris-dancers, and medieval dancers. There were henna artists, palm readers, coffee readers, furriers, weavers, blacksmiths, and people making chain-maille and jewellery.  We ate venison pie at the Stag Inn, (sorry Bambi) and I found out what chevron pie is, (it’s goat.) I also had my first taste of Strongbow Pear Cider. Yes I know that’s not strictly in keeping with medieval times, but still, it was nice.

One of the two tree-lady stilt-walkers.














We didn’t see much of the birds of prey, they are on our list for next year, and so is having a camel ride and trying honey mead and mulled wine. There is a lot going on, and with 37 groups all doing their thing, plus food, and stalls, even two days wasn’t enough time to see everything.

We did have a go at shooting targets with a bow and five arrows, I did quite well, but I also took longer than everyone else in my line: sorry to the people waiting behind us.

I did the henna workshop at the Kazuri Tribe tents. The history and the way they make henna was really interesting, but I soon found out my decorating skills are not that great. Again, I was the last to leave, and now I have really dodgy doodles on my left hand and arm for the next couple of weeks. But I’m not complaining, it’s a nice reminder of a wonderful weekend.

Shuvani Romani dancers

That’s me, dressed up.

Shuvani Romani Kumpania ladies, and me back in my jeans and Tshirt.

For more information on the Shuvani Romani Kumpania visit

For more information on the Kazuri  Tribe,