Sundays are synonymous with certain rituals and traditions; reading the paper, copping some sunshine, listening to music, organising your shit for the week and generally just chilling the afternoon away. As Crave Australia editors Nastassia Baroni and Mitch Feltscheer found out, a new offering from the people behind Secret Garden, Cubby House, wraps up all your favourite Sunday activities in one, delightful, harbour-side event.
“Welcome to Cubby House!”, bellowed the day’s host, comedian Cam Knight, into a bejazzled mega-phone as a couple hundred of us sat at long white tables, Pimms in hand, the near-blistering sun on our backs. “We’re not really sure how today’s going to go down, it’s uhh… kind of hard to categorise?”
In one self-effacing intro, the host sums up everyone’s befuddled idea of what exactly it was we were here for on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon in the grounds of a centuries old mansion in Vaucluse. Croquet and comedy? Fishing lessons and Tracey Spicer? Upholstery and robo-sex?
What the fuck was happening?
We arrived to long, communal tables with wild flowers strewn across them and carefully decorated individual place settings, down to the cutlery being adorably tied together with a string bow. Shared dishes of Tasmanian Ocean Trout, smoked Brisket, spit roasted pork, artichokes, baked cauliflower and salads for days were placed in front of us, and we were invited to pass around the plates and, you know, actually interact with our neighbours on either side. Talking with strangers at a festival, what a novel idea.
One of the key hallmarks of everyone’s perfect Sunday surely involves a delicious, leisurely outdoor lunch served against a picturesque backdrop, and anyone who thinks otherwise frankly should go and re-evaluate their life decisions. In this sense Cubby House felt in a way like a fabulous backyard party thrown by those cool AF people who live down the street, except with professional chefs curating the menu and the fact that you’re dining on Heritage listed property overlooking both the Harbour bridge and the Opera House.
Guided by host Cam back to the beach-fronted hill and the solitary stage at its bottom, the sets kicked off with a panel of young journos (Bridie Jabour, Adam Brereton and Michael Safi) from the Guardian, led by Tom Tilley, in discussion of their most recent stories and just how they came about. Across the 45 minutes we travelled from talking about the Parramatta shootings and the radicalisation of Aussie youth to whether men can truly be feminists and how badly Peter Garrett fucked up as a politician.
Whilst the odious fact that we were a collection of mainly white people, drinking the quintessentially colonial Pimms and lemonade, on the harbour of Sydney’s most prestigious suburb, attempting to solve the ISIS problem, hung densely in the air, the panels were insightful, heartfelt and genuinely interesting.
Rapper, author and poet Omar Musa guided us through the “Someone We Should Know” segment, introducing us to Indonesian poet W.S. Rendra. Poetry can often seem inaccessible and hard to digest. A form of art left behind by many of us, ourselves included, in high school text books and poorly written essays about journeys or belonging or some other buzz word you’d find framed in a homewares store. But Musa brought Rendra’s words to life. The words of a man he admires, the words that inspired his life’s work, the words of someone we ostensibly should know.
It worked too. We googled W.S. Rendra right after.
Going from Indonesian poetry to a discussion about sex robots might seem like a stark transition but it’s Sunday, you’ve had a few with your friends, the beers are flowing and part of the fun is not knowing where the conversation’s going to end up. In Tracey Spicer’s interview with sex journalist Hugo Gray, topics ranged from the vast advances being made in virtual reality porn, cybernetic penis implants and teledildonics.
But really, the whole thing was worth it just to witness Tracey Spicer say, “I bought the biggest pink dildo I could find.” What a time to be alive.
Journeying into the games area we discovered giant connect 4, croquet, bocce ball, a free postcard station (apologies to our content manager who may be receiving a vulgar post in the mail this week…) plus I (Mitch) got my favourite pair of flowery yellow shorts re-buttoned. Sunday was well and truly on the way of getting kicked right in the dick.
Back to the stage and The Bear Pack took us down a mostly-improv, Inception style comedy whirlpool where the simple story of two men on a flight to London effortlessly morphed into the nefarious and sexually inappropriate ballad of a bull-man (who may also be a mountain) and a small Spanish boy on a journey of revenge and self-discovery.
In the hands of anyone else the made-up-on-the-run, mime style of comedy would come across as amateurish and repetitive but The Bear Pack duo, with the ability to draw laughs out of a simple gesture or eyebrow raise, had the hillside in stitches.
Closing out the day was the sublimely paired choice of Sydney folk-quartet All Our Exes Live In Texas. With the backdrop of the setting sun over Sydney Harbour, the affable and seriously funny ladies led us to the bottom of our final cocktails with melodic and soothing acoustic gems.
Like any good Sunday activity, we were off on our way home at 6pm, re-buttoned pants in hand. Although perfection is a mostly unachievable delusion, to say Cubby House came very close to creating the dream Sunday is no understatement.
Here’s to chasing the aloof and whily ‘Perfect Sunday’ at Cubby House, this time again next year!
(Literally only one request for improving next year: ditch the paper straws. Nobody likes those cluggy, fucking useless beverage imbibers. Into the bin!)
Watch: All Our Exes Live In Texas – Tell Me