Qualifying round. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo Click for more photos

Grand Prix draws crowds

Qualifying round. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo Photo: Wayne Taylor

Trying to pull a lawnmower out of my inner-ear, Saturday. At least in war there are long moments of quiet, and the tension of battle momentarily fades. One can for a while sink into one's own thoughts or even sleep. Not at the grand prix.

There are battles going on everywhere you look. At this moment, the Army Band is playing My Sharona, the female lead guitarist letting rip with those squealy bits in the middle.

Overhead, the Air Force Roulettes are doing a nose-to-tail loop. It's a truly sphincter-clenching moment – and yet most people keep their eyes on the band, booga-looing in their camouflage gear.

In front of the stage, there are low-key skirmishes where people try to steal the maroon-coloured beanbags from one another. A woman, sunk deep in her own bag, is holding another in her arms like some overgrown baby.

"WE PAID FOR THESE!" she tells a teenage boy who tried walking off with it. In ordinary circumstances, the pitch and intensity of her screaming would be cause for alarm or complaint – but at Albert Park it's how people talk to one another.

"SORRY! I THOUGHT THEY WERE FOR EVERYBODY," the lad replies. "WHERE DO YOU GET THEM FROM?"

She shrugs and looks past him. The Army trombone player is doing something gymnastic.

The teen – his name is Gary Dunn, from Adelaide – has lost track of his mates. None of them are answering their phones. "THEY PROBABLY CAN'T HEAR THEM," he says.

Gary then pulls an unhappy face as he spots a couple – let's be brave enough to say these are people who need a day or two away from the ravioli – who have three beanbags between them, one as a joint foot stool? Loaded with snacks, slack-jaw overwhelmed that no matter where they look something hectic is in play, the couple have sunk into their bags with the permanency of bollards set in concrete.

Still, Gary wanders over and asks: "CAN I HAVE ONE OF YOUR BEANBAGS ... FOR MONEY?"

No, he cannot. They don't even speak, just shake their heads.

Five minutes later he's on the floating bridge over the lake, fuming. Overhead, a man is climbing a very high and steeply angled wire on a motorbike. An electric guitar is emptying itself hysterically into the air – perhaps as an accompaniment to the stunt or for its own demonic reasons. Dangling trapeze-like beneath the motorbike is a woman working through a variety of yoga positions. When the bike reaches the top of the wire, it abruptly travels backwards. Meanwhile, the Roulettes do another pass overhead.

Gary Dunn is one of the many people who don't bother looking up or around. He's moving closer to the track, where the snarl of a formula one racing car tries to assert itself above the racket of so much else going on.