Roman gladiator Matthew Bryant of Rosebank will be among many gladiators appearing at the Italo-Australian Club on Sunday.
Roman gladiator Matthew Bryant of Rosebank will be among many gladiators appearing at the Italo-Australian Club on Sunday. Jacklyn Wagner

Gladiators gird loins for battle

SET your watch for 100AD.

This Sunday's Italian Festival, at the Italo-Australian Club grounds in Barrow La, North Lismore starting at 10am, will feature a host of gladiators that would do Rome's Colosseum proud.

Modern-day gladiator Matthew Bryant from Rosebank will bring together 20 warriors from ancient Brisbane and Armidale for a gladiator show at this year's festival.

"Gladiators were the rock stars of the ancient world - they were dangerous and glamorous," he said. "Members of the public will also be able to get involved trying on armour and helmets.

"We will have a roped area for gladiator training and we will also discuss tactics and the cultural aspects of ancient Rome."

The two groups will stage a medieval battle at 11.30am and a Roman Gladiator Show at 2.30pm.

Matthew said he had been interested in the ancient Roman world ever since he saw the film Conan the Barbarian.

The groups fight according to very strict rules with no armour - for some reason they end up with fewer injuries that way, he said.

The Italian Festival is a family-friendly, all-day event and will also feature 25 market stalls, Italian food, music, singing and dancing plus a salami wheel, wine tasting and children's entertainment.

From the time of their arrival in the district in the 1850s Italians have played a significant role in the region's life and development.

Proceeds from this year's festival will be donated to the New Italy Museum complex on the Pacific Hwy 10km south of Woodburn.

This volunteer-operated site is an active expression of Italian heritage and culture. It is also a monument to the 217 survivors of the disastrous Marquis de Rays expedition of 1880-81 who settled in the immediate district.

Admission is free and the venue is wheelchair accessible.

For further information contact Julie De Nardi 6624 3506.



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