Private Capital - Shake or hit your way into the Guinness World Record books on the Australia Day weekend
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Private Capital - Shake or hit your way into the Guinness World Record books on the Australia Day weekend

Have you always wanted to be part of breaking a Guinness World Record, but lack any particular skill that could get you over the line? Or maybe your new year's resolutions have already gone out the window and you're looking for something new to aim for in 2015.

Your chance could be in a mere two weeks' time – with very minimal effort required on your behalf.

Aiming for Guiness greatness: Peter Malone has played the lagerphone for over ten years.

Aiming for Guiness greatness: Peter Malone has played the lagerphone for over ten years.Credit:Paul McShane

The historic Berrima Gaol will be opening its doors to the public over the Australia Day long weekend for one of the first times ever in its 150 year history.

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The Berrima Rotary Club is hosting "GaolBreak", three days of celebrations at the jail which will include an attempt to set the official Guinness World Record for the Largest Lagerphone Ensemble.

While not commonly known by name, the lagerphone is a traditional bush percussion instrument made from a large stick and bottle-caps, traditionally used in bush bands.

Peter Malone, who has played the instrument for over 10 years, said anyone can play it.

"It's a percussion instrument so you can shake it, hit it on the ground or you can hit it with a stick – it's accessible to anyone," he said.

The group will play Waltzing Matilda for their record attempt.

"You don't need any experience whatsoever," he said.

"Our recommendation would be to look at the clips we'll be putting online about how to play the lagerphone and we're putting up some videos for different parts of Waltzing Matilda so people can practice."

One of the organisers Paul McShane said that the record has been unofficially attempted before, but they have satisfied the stringent Guinness World Record conditions meaning this attempt will be officially recorded.

"There was one attempt in Canberra at the National Folk Festival, but they didn't meet the conditions, and there have been some attempts in Queensland," he said.

"We're hoping to get 300 people. So anyone can come along and be a world record holder."

The Southern Highlands is also home to another Guinness World Record for the Largest Umbrella Mosaic which they set in 2011 when 2,115 people held umbrellas aloft for 10 minutes in formation of Mary Poppins on the Bradman Oval.

Berrima jail has a history as one of NSW's most brutal, with prisoners in the early days not allowed to speak for the first nine months of their sentence. During World War I, it was also used as a German prisoner internment camp.

The jail will play host to two different events in its main quadrangle over the Australia Day long weekend, with a traditional Australian barn dance on the Saturday night which incorporates the world record attempt and a performance by Australian opera stars on Sunday evening.

Visitors can also take self-guided tours of the jail between 9am-5pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but there are only a limited number of tickets so bookings are essential.

To be part of the world record attempt, purchase tickets to the bush dance and register your interest at gaolbreak.org.au.

Jail tours tickets are Adult $12, Child $8 and Family $36, bush dance tickets are Adult $5/Child $5, and opera tickets are priced from $65. All available from gaolbreak.org.au.

Australia Day your way

You can also get your name or your face recorded as part of an exhibition on Australia Day through purely the use of a hashtag.

The museum teamed up with the National Australia Day Council and Twitter last year to create a "digital snapshot" of how Australians were celebrating their national day, and it's all happening again this year.

The live "instant exhibition" will be curated by the museum in the main hall, as well as in a live gallery on the museum and Australia Day websites. You can have a look at what people got up to last year at your.australiaday.org.au.

And whatever you do on Australia Day, just remember if you're tweeting and using #australiaday, your exploits could end up in the museum, for future generations to see.

Capital reading

Nothing says holidays like tucking into a good book, and if you're lucky enough to still be on holidays or just trying to channel the long, lazy days, you don't have to look far from home for a good read.

Canberra-born bestselling romance thriller author Bronwyn Parry has just realised her fifth novel, Storm Clouds.

New Woden bookstore Harry Hartog will host Parry for a book launch next week on January 13 from 6pm. Drinks and nibbles will be provided and everyone who purchases the book on the night goes in the draw to win a door prize.

And then there's the newly published biography of John Mackay, former CEO and chairman of ACTEW and TransACT, key figure in the founding of the National Arboretum Canberra, and a host of other former and current eminent positions in Canberra public life. Indeed, he was once described on these pages as, "like one of those inflatable knock-down clowns that keeps bouncing back no matter how many times you push it over". And here is now, immortalised in the form of a book penned by none other than former Canberra Times journalist Graham Downie. Living on The Edge: The Life of John Mackay is available online from johnmackay.com.au.

For something lighter, University of Canberra graduate Gabrielle Tozer has released a sequel to her debut novel The Intern. Young adult fiction novel Faking It takes another cheeky look at the behind-the-scenes antics of the glossy magazine industry, plus handling the pressure to plan the perfect website launch, and dealing with flatmates and frenemies.

What's on

THE BOGGY CREEK SHOW Presented in association with Spirited, The Boggy Creek Show is a horseman show direct from the Snowy Mountains with fourth-generation cattleman Tim O'Brien. Shows on January 17 at 2pm and 6.30pm at the National Museum of Australia. Tickets $20 Adults/$5 Children/$15 Friends from eventbrite.com or at the door. Ticket includes entry to the Spirited exhibition.

SUNDAE SESSIONS The Canberra leg of the Ben & Jerry's Openair Cinemas kicks off January 18 with a charity screening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which includes a live performance by ARIA Award nominees Husky. Movies are on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights until February 22 at the Patrick White Lawns, Parkes (in front of the National Library). And all sessions on Sundays include free unlimited Ben & Jerry's ice cream. For a full schedule and tickets visit openaircinemas.com.au.

Jil Hogan is an food and lifestyle reporter at The Canberra Times.

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