Last weekend my sister turned 32. We celebrated by packing her immediate bloodline into two cars and basing ourselves at Mataranka for a few days. Upon arrival, I loved the look of the sun flare behind this sign, so I took a photo, paying no attention whatsoever to what was on it.
However, the hours pass, and over dinner I catch wind of the fact that Matilda, the non birthday sister, has promised my daughter Matisse, to go and watch the whip cracking show. At 9pm at night I might add. My idea of camping involves drinking beer by the fire, hours before this time, with the children safety tucked away in the tent. But I obliged. It was a very cold night, and there was a fire cranking by the stage, so I took a seat right beside it and settled in. And holy shit. There is a God.
There was something incredibly compelling about this whip cracking show. Yet I have walked past Mick's Whips show at the Mindil Beach Markets thousands of times, and never batted an eyelid. The guy will no doubt get an OAM in due course for his efforts in drawing national interest to the craft. He currently holds three Guinness World Records - in his words, "in the book full of freaks." One for the most cracks with one hand, two hands, and also for cracking the longest whip, at 100m. He made that with his bare hands too. It took three months to make, then three to learn to crack it. And my usually terrible memory manages to magically recall that it weighs between 26 and 40kgs, depending on the humidity. For this world record, he was stoked to beat the previous holder, a US dude who could only manage a measly 75m.
On the two handed mastery, he has broken his own world record three times and can presently muster 693 cracks in one minute - thats 11 cracks per second. I can't even count to 11 in one second. He could be lying. I mean, who checks this stuff on Google - and I have been blindly promoting the fact to anyone within ear shot for over a week. And if he doesn't, who is going to go out to Mataranka and hold him to account for pretending to have world records!? Actually, I can think of a few people who might volunteer. Like the lady at the end of the show who insisted to Nathan that she didn't have any money to put in his hat, but wanted to buy him a beer instead!? Head scratch. Give me a break lady, what are you about to buy that beer with?
As I posted that AC/DC whip cracking mastery to Facebook, I stated that it would take more than three world records, and fire whip cracking to get my attention. That wasn't entirely true. The constant stream of posts to social media for the next week, pale in comparison to the amount of airtime that "Nathan Whippy Griggs" received from our group. His name was rolling off someones tongue, approximately every 5 minutes for the next 60 hours. Even my kids were talking about him like he was an old family friend. A week later, it's the first thing they tell their friends about. At first it was a joke, but when I realised we were going to still be in the campground the next time he performed, and I genuinely felt thrilled about this, I need to concede that world record whip cracking, AC/DC, fire, and a repertoire of good, or so bad they are good jokes, is exactly what it takes to get my attention. Attendance at the next show was coupled with mounting anticipation of being lucky enough to be plucked from the crowd to participate in his show.
And then I was.
I am often gifted with amazing, life enriching things from the universe. This one ranks pretty highly. After cracking out 11 cracks a second for 20 seconds, Nathan wanted someone to take some photos 'whilst his muscles were so massive.' His words, not mine. My choice of a seat front and centre, with a DSLR in my hand was not exactly unintentional. For those concerned, Nathan gave me a safety briefing before pulling this move. He told me to "lay down on the ground, in my skirt, and keep my legs together." Solid advice considering my mother, sisters and daughters were in the crowd. Such a gentleman.
The next day we went to his shop to "buy imogen a birthday present" and rolled out with more than enough merchandise to keep his memory alive, and two holes in the back of each of our heads from his girlfriend who didn't seen too impressed with our enthusiasm, or my sudden and uncharacteristic interest in commissioning Nathan to make me a kangaroo leather whip.
When we got home, the kids were busting at the seams to tell their father about the trip. Despite the amazing places we went, the endless swimming in hot springs, cooking on the fire, Barunga music festival and 100 hours of non stop rolling in the dirt, all I could hear from downstairs was "Dad, Nathan whippy Griggs put Mum on the ground, and did whip cracking all over the top of her. Nathan whippy griggs this, nathan whippy griggs that." I later found the signed stubby cooler in my daughters bed. She obviously really liked the show. I might have to take her back to watch it again next weekend.
And here is some iPhone footage.