KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR
One great thing about the North Shore is the eclectic people that inhabit the area, and father-of-three Andrew McKinnon is a world-class act.
A graphic designer by day, Andrew shares his home with wife Andrea and sons Angus, 14, Alasdair, 12, and six-year-old Rory. But by 'knight', Andrew's self-confessed "midlife crisis" as a medieval jouster has catapulted him onto the world stage.
Andrew is launching the first-ever World Jousting Championships at St Ives Medieval Faire this month - which will be broadcast live on Fox Sports - and he's also in talks with a network about making an Ashes-style jousting series in the UK "Jousting is gaining popularity and threatening to cross over into the mainstream because it's the original extreme sport," Andrew tells North Shore Living.
"With the steel lances, knights in armour and horses stamping, there's an element of other-worldliness and an out-of-body experience for people watching because it's so visually compelling. It's like parachuting into the 15th century."
Legend goes that, at the age of 40, Andrew - a keen history buff - was looking for a new project and on discovering the olde world sport, thought "that looks fun".
"Much to Mrs McKinnon's horror!" he says, laughing.
"I hadn't ridden a horse since I was 12, and that was only because my sisters went to pony club. When I decided I wanted to give jousting a go, to say my wife was nonplussed about it would be the understatement of the century.
"She thought it was a hair-brained scheme, but when armour started turning up at our house, she had a fair Idea of how serious I was!"
Since then, Andrew has jousted all over the world. He keeps Hawk, his horse of two years, at Oxford Falls and looks after 20 separate pieces of armour in his man cave.
"It's practical armour - not for display," he reveals. "You have to know how to oil and polish it, because the greatest enemy of jousting armour is salt air, which makes it rust."
Originally aiming to joust in a few overseas quality events, Andrew realised how brilliant it would be to do it locally, so approached Ku-ring-gai Council to include a competition at the St Ives Medieval Faire. "The council loved it," he adds, "and we've worked together ever since."
More than 20,000 people are expected at this year's faire, with the world's best jousters coming from as far afield as Europe and Canada to participate in the championships.
"We underwrite the faire with historical accuracy," adds Andrew, "and shows like Game of Thrones are great for piquing that interest because most of the script is based on real events. It's important to get these historical similes right."
And which historical figure would Andrew like to be?
"Edward III - he lived to a fairly ripe old age, and had several children by loads of different people. He seems like he had a fairly good life!" he chuckles.