GALLERY: Crowds turn out for Tropfest 

Morning showers gave way to clear skies yesterday afternoon as hundreds of enthusiastic moviegoers gathered at the Wollongong Botanic Garden to watch Tropfest short film festival.

Early birds Anne Hickey and Hollie-Sheree Blake packed umbrellas in case the rain returned but ended up having to shade themselves from the hot afternoon sun.

‘‘We packed waterproof stuff to sit on, too, but we didn’t have to so it’s all in the car,’’ Ms Hickey, 25, said.

The duo joined about 200 early-birds in picnicking, reading, sleeping and listening to live folk music ahead of a simulcast screening of the Sydney-based short film festival at 8pm.

Ms Blake, a University of Wollongong performance student, said she was looking forward to watching emerging talent from this year’s 16 Tropfest finalists.

‘‘This is the industry I hope to get into so I thought I should come and check it out,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s pretty handy having it here.’’

Wollongong is the only region in Australia to have a live link to the screening.

Northern suburbs friends Marti Kurt, 22, and Amelia Gow, 21, were so keen to score a good spot on the grass that they turned up as gates opened at three o-clock sharp.

They were looking forward to watching a friend, former Illawarra actress Hayley Flowers, make an appearance in one of the Tropfest films.

‘‘We have a regular night every week and we just thought this might be something a bit different,’’ Ms Kurt said.

‘‘It’s nice to have a screening in Wollongong rather than having to travel up to Sydney.’’

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