Before we get started on the festival let me have a few moments indulgence. I had arranged to arrive at Wintermoon on Thursday but booked WWWGo into Big Wheels in Mackay to have a wheel alignment carried out. I booked in 5 weeks beforehand. I was given a time of 9.15am and the job would take 2 hours, maybe a little longer, perhaps 3 hours. Okey Dokey, I can live with that. On arrival I turned off the 12v fridge and thought I could leave the fridge in the off position for 2 hours. I called Nevin who had previously agreed to pick me up and take me to Canelands Shopping Centre where I planned do some festival grocery shopping. After Nevin left I went to Muffin Break for a coffee and a… you guessed it, a muffin. Glynnis phone to say she arrived in the shopping centre so after she joined me and had a coffee we headed off to Big Wheels to collect WWWGO. It was not ready. They said they needed some parts and would have to order them and could I leave the MH overnight. I explained no I could not as I had too many pre arranged plans and must be away no later than 3pm. We agreed they would finish the toe in and toe out part of the job and I could arrange to come back later. On the surface I was calm. Underneath I was fuming. This had been organised 5 weeks before and the parts should already have been on hand and they should have told me a better time frame. If necessary I could have taken another day off and booked in on the Wednesday. Now I somehow have to find a way of getting to Mackay so the rest of the work can be completed. Probably drive down one Saturday and leave the MH parked in their driveway and pick it up the following week. So after making some loose arrangements the fridge was turned to gas and Glynnis and I went looking at used cars. Specifically a Daihatsu Terios or Suzuki Vitara. Of course they are both as scarce as hens teeth and few car yards have them. We had a lunch of corn crackers and tuna at the botanical gardens when we received a call at 1.40 to say they were finished. At last!
The Wintermoon Festival site is nestled next to the north-east edge of Eungella National Park, one of the largest rainforests in Queensland. This is a festival given over to, well, mainly folk music. Much of the music is derivatives of other types of music and includes such genres as blues, jazz, rock, country, gospel and good ole Ozzie folk music which in itself is based on traditional music from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Collectively they can be traced to Celtic Music.
Lots of vendors sell goods they make themselves
Some Market Stalls
while others cheat and sell imported junk from Bali and other poor Asian communities. I suppose it supports our neighbours but I feel it takes away from the traditional local cottage industries. After all the idea behind Wintermoon is to promote local talent, musical or otherwise, and provide an outlet to the local and wider community.
“Get off the soapbox Frankeeg!!! Tell us about the festival”
“Well golly gosh I will.”
Some quick background observations.
There is tent camping allowed
Some of the tents on the main site.
on the festival site but all cars are banned to a paddock across the bridge over St,Helens Creek and a 500m walk, sometimes a further 500m walk within the carpark itself!
Across the road from the festival site is camping for the volunteers and the fourth stage known as the Lunar Creek Stage and attached coffee, scones and pizza dining area. Beside the stage and dining area runs the St. Helens Creek.
The main Festival site comprises three stages. The main, known as the Southern Cross Stage, The Shed Stage beside it (as one performance is underway another is being prepared on the shed stage next door. Finally a third stage around a hill is known as Crusty’s Stage. This is set up as an alternative so lesser known performers can be seen under a blackboard system. Simply write down your name, what time of day and how long your performance and show up. The songwriting contest is presented here and some of the headline acts get a jam session happening.
The fourth stage, Lunar Creekside is over the road within the volunteers campsite.
The rest of us in motorhomes, caravans or just arriving too late to get a prime campsite are about 1 Klm away on Stoney Creek or in our case, too big to get into Stoney, on a hill above
the Stoney Creek pasture site. They had hot showers (the water being heated in an old donkey boiler) and toilets.
Toilets, showers and donkey boiler at Stoney Creek.
We had a pair of toilets to service around 18 campsites. The festival ran from Friday 30th April until Monday 3rd May 2010.
I had driven to Mackay alone as Donnis worked night shift and wanted to go home for a sleep until about 3pm or 4pm. I guesstimated that if she left by 4pm she should arrive by 5pm or no later than 5.30pm. As she did not know where we were camped we had previously agreed to tie red metallic ribbons to three posts. As well, Glynnis wrote Donnis with an arrow on a piece of cardboard and we set it up on a tree trunk so she could see it. 5.30 came and went. No Donnis. 6.30 arrived. No Donnis. I trudge down the hill and set up three LED torches to show her the way. 7.30 a car came up the hill. I flagged it down thinking it was Donnis. No, a couple of young girls in a Daihatsu Charade. They thanked me for the lights showing the track. Finally after I made dinner and was eating, she arrived. just on 8pm. She had the sign with her but did not see the red ribbons nor the lights. What the!!! After she ate I drove down the hill to retrieve all three LED’s which were still shining brightly. The ribbons were fluttering in the breeze. How could she miss the obvious pointers and find the insignificant cardboard sign on a tree trunk?
We set up camp on Thursday afternoon and left Tuesday 4th May.
Did we have a good time?
You betcha sweet bippy we did.
According to the program there were something like 30 acts. In fact there were more because some musicians from one band would join with muso’s from another band and jam. Often a muso would fill in as an additional performer.
Our biggest problem was sorting out which performances we wanted to see and which ones we had to miss because we needed to have a meal break. As our camp was 1 Klm from the main site we packed up our chairs and lunches and caught the shuttle bus to the main site. To have dinner we needed to catch the bus back to our camp, prepare and eat a meal then catch a bus back to the main site for the rest of the nights entertainment. Staggering home at midnight was not unusual.
One of the top bands was The Bushwackers. Although we know them from the radio it was not until the lead singer announced this year they have been going 40 years that you realise how much they have been part of the music scene. It was also announced the lead singer also wrote the words to the iconic song, I AM, YOU ARE, WE ARE, AUSTRALIAN.
Another new act is called The Twine, a high energy husband and wife musical team who can play 5 different instruments each, sometimes three at once. They have been on TV recently on Australia’s Got Talent and apparently wowed the TV audience. It seems half the Wintermoon audience knew who they were and at one performance on Sunday night the dancers were 50 people deep. They also brought their 6 year old son on stage who plays drums, dances and handstands across the stage.
The stage areas seem to follow a basic idea for audience comfort in an outdoor setting. The audience area is open with only a tarpaulin covering to keep out the rain and sunshine. (it is still mighty hot at this time of year and the sun can burn the skin after only a short exposure) lots of bales of hay are lined up in front of the stage in rows and some people sit on them, some sit on a blanket on the ground between hay bales, while some, like me, take a more comfortable lounging chair. After all I have a back problem and sitting on the hay for 2 or 3 hours will leave me in agony.
To one side of the Southern Cross stage is the Shed stage, From the hay bale seating area you can watch each stage without having to move.
To one side is the food vendors including the Moonshine Café, a permanent structure and other tent food vendors. The Hare Krisna have a vegetarian food tent and a bookstore beside it. No visit to Wintermoon would be complete without at least one meal from the Hare Krisna. Their vegetarian curries and desserts are very popular and are served all day for each of the 4 days. To give you some idea of their popularity, the Hare Krisna have been to every festival.
This year the other tents served Mr Whippy type ice cream, a fruity ice confection and juice tent, Hungarian breads and pancakes, Dutch pancakes as well as all day breakfasts and the Cornjack man who also sold corn on the cob and popcorn.
No alcohol is served. Being adults you are permitted to take your own and you are expected to drink in a behaved manner. I saw no drunkeness, nor aggression. After all, this is a family event and families were there to enjoy themselves. Teenagers are only allowed in camp if they arrive with a parent who is also camped on site. Teenagers are given a colour coded wristband and if they are caught with an alcoholic beverage they are kicked off site along with their parents.
Younger kids are well catered for and there were many organised activities for them including swimming in the creek.
Families at St.Helens Creek.
One parent I spoke with told me she felt it was a safe environment for the children as they always played in groups and the campers all looked out for each other and their children.
An amazing thing was the lack of rubbish around the site. People used the bins around the site instead of just dropping rubbish on the ground. For the campers, only decomposing rubbish was allowed. All other rubbish had to be taken out in plastic bags supplied by the festival.
Colour coded armbands for every visitor. Separate car park area. Separate volunteers campsite. A new stage by the creek. A Police presence. SES providing traffic control and some security. No cars in the camping area. Separate check in and ticket allocation area. Extra campsites with showers and toilets. Shuttle bus service. Dogs are not permitted.People watching was an interesting pastime. I saw quite a few people dressed in 60’s style hippy clothes and hair styles. The variety of colour and style of clothing was infectious. I would love a pair of the hemp multi coloured flaired trousers but the only place I could really wear them would be at this or similar festivals. I just cannot imagine having the courage to wear such clothes to the shopping centre.
Ok Ok So I wore a colourful shirt.
The other activity I enjoyed was to crank my chair back and be lulled into a restful state (read snooze) listening to some of the gentler solo performers.
During the 4 days there were many workshops including fire stick twirling, fire poi, balancing, juggling, unicycles, clowns, kites and many other activities. Kids loved the water slide which ended about one and a half metres above a dry creek bed where a half metre of foam rubber was placed. The kids loved that final drop.
A few years ago the organisers, Chris and Jenny, announced the festival could not grow any bigger as they could not accommodate any more campers or provide car parking. Security and some drinking problems and theft by teenagers was becoming a problem. So were dogs on site, particularly those which were unrestrained. The whole festival was getting too big for them. So the word went out and more volunteers were called for as well as ideas from long time volunteers. Each year small but noticeable changes were made.
The small army of volunteers kept the festival going and have done so every year. The festival grows because the local farming community have now recognised the festival worth and allowed their property to be used for car parking and camping. The number of volunteers grows each year but so do the crowds. It is never going to be as big as say the Gympie Muster but 1,000 campers and another 1,000 day trippers is a lot of people for a small rural community.
The site of the festival as well as the campsites are just a picture. First time visitors always comment on the attractiveness of the valley. You might recall in an earlier post about 2 weeks ago I mentioned travelling along the valley back road from Marian to Stoney Creek. Most of that road is sealed although in many places it is not much wider than one lane. The road from Calen to the festival site is sealed all the way. About 100 metres over the bridge the road becomes gravel all the way through to Mt.Charlton a distance of about 12 Klms. The road also passes another popular and one of my favourite camp locations, Boulder Creek.
Each morning at 8am there is a Poets Breakfast where yarn spinners can have a go at reciting poetry, tell a yarn, recount an experience (with humorous embellishments of course) or just settle back on the hay bale and listen.
At 10am the music gets underway and goes all day with the last acts on the Southern Cross and Lunar Creek stages commencing at 11pm.
I cannot believe how tired you can become just sitting around listening to music all day.
Our campsite on the hill above Stoney Creek included friends Nevin & Marie in their converted Mazda Bus and Glynnis in her Paradise Motorhomes conversion on a Mercedes chassis and motor. Nevin brought a load of firewood and a fire ring so we could sit around the fire at night. Well, that did not happen. Every night we were down at one of the stages sitting under the tarpaulins and wearing beanies to keep the cool night air (read dew) off our heads.
The festival is also a good place to catch up with people we know from Airlie Beach and Mackay.
After all that wonderful relaxing in a safe and friendly environment it was time to pack up and head home filled with memories and already looking forward to next year.
Southern Cross Stage. Friday Evening waiting for a performance.