Last weekend Goulburn, NSW, debuted a festival devoted to all things espionage.
The festival featured spy-themed characters and cars from Bond to Bourne and Inspector Gadget to Austin Powers in a Street Parade. Continuing into the afternoon with a crime and adventure writer’s forum, and world class entertainment at the Secret Agents Gala Dinner in the evening.
The inaugural festival was inspired by George Lazenby, the only Australian thus far to play James Bond on screen in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, who was born and raised in Goulburn.
George Lazenby returned to his hometown over the weekend, beginning his appearances with an intimate press conference in the morning. When asked where George Lazenby considers home, George responded with ‘your roots are where you are born’.
Lazenby said, “I love going back and looking at things that remind me of my past because you do forget about a lot of it. You come to Goulburn and you see things that remind you; things like Bourke Street School, Goulburn High School and my house up in Faithful Street.”
The Aussie Bond led the Street Parade in a gold Aston Martin where he waved to the applauding crowd, cheering back ‘I’ll see you all next year’.
Lazenby was presented with the Freedom to the City by Mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree, Geoff Kettle, in the Official Opening Ceremony. He then stayed for a brief autograph signing and a chance to say hello to a lucky few in the crowd.
The afternoon saw the Writers Forum with Greg Barron, another ex-Goulburn local, Rachel Amphlette and Chris Allen. Lynette Silver, a historian, also joined the writer’s forum with David Emerson-Elliot who co-authored In the Mouth of the Tiger. The book about David’s father, Denis Emerson-Elliot who was a British spy, was believed to be Ian Fleming’s inspiration behind the original Bond character.
Lazenby’s predecessor Sean Connery also made an appearance in the festival as the emcee of the Secret Agent’s Gala Dinner, thanks to impersonator Chris de Hallivand.
The Gala Dinner also played host to renowned Shirley Bassey Tribute artist, Jenifer Green, who sung classic Bond themes like Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever. The night continued with attendees in tuxedos and sleek gowns drinking Martinis, shaken, of course.
Geoff Kettle, Mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree, said that he was very proud of just how much the festival was embraced by the community.
“Commitment, dedication and determination has truly paid off with a spectacular event that we can all be proud of,” Kettle said.
Organisers are already planning next year’s event, and envisage Spyfest to be comparable to the Parkes Elvis Festival.
Council’s manager of Goulburn marketing and events Sarah Ruberto said, “The ideas for 2016 and beyond are already flowing, but like all things spy, they are top secret.”