7 January 2014

We hearted Woodford

This year, with Christmas still clinging gently to our heels we packed up the four of us into two backpacks, two day packs, a tent bag, a satchel and two small people sized owl bags and caught the plane north. 

Destination: Woodford Folk Festival.

festival armbands unite
The adults in this equation are no strangers to festivals or camping.  But this is the first time we'd attempted a festival with the girls when there were not 'in utero' and also the first time we had ever taken them camping.

We can not say enough nice things about the
Coleman pop up tent - genius! 
We were like some of the original pioneering folks.  We had to use communal facilities to charge our smart phones and everything.  

That was the first glorious thing about Woodford.  How unashamedly capitalist and consumerist it's approach to what is largely seen as a breeding ground for alternative thought, alternative lifestyle, music and food.  I revelled in the irony, even as some cultish vegan hipster ladled toppings onto my potato, charged me more for a lemonade than you paid for the wine and asked for a fiver to charge my phone.

Do not take this to mean that the festival is overpriced - the diversity of entertainment, the calibre of the performances and the sheer beauty of the surroundings - makes it incredibly good value.  But still ironic.

There is lots to love about Woodford.

Street sign
The children's festival
There is clay, circus classes, colouring in, drumming monkeys, music shows, puppet shows, free facepainting, watermelon slices, story telling, sandpits, hay bales ball pits, Auslan classes, mask making, tshirt decorating, grufflepud creating and a ridiculously high proportion of children called Marley.  It's a little slice of small people utopia which when attended in the morning leaves them in a state of bliss which helps them endure heat, the music choices of their parents, dirt, spiders, ants and the wrong colour water bottle.

Daily facepainting - this day we were a potato and a cat
Cold showers
It's really freaking hot at Woodford.  Even when it's not over 40 degrees, it's still inland Queensland in the middle of summer.  So it's still hot.  Cold showers equal happiness.

Working out the spray gun
Hat? Check.
Sunglasses? Check
Groin and nipples covered? Check
It applies to both genders and is the basic approach to all fashion at Woodford.  How much material covers those two things is entirely up to you.  Nobody gives a shit whether you are dressed in an inch of material or miles of it - anything goes.  And really truly nobody cares.  I saw a lady who was easily 80 plus and she wore a different Mickey Mouse onesie every single day.  Practical. Sun safe. Comfortable. Good for everything from yoga to dancing.

That mermaid hasn't got any clothes on Mama
Bush Poet's breakfast
This was a gem of a discovery.  Hot breakfasts and an hour or two of subversive and hilarious brilliance. Aged stockmen, swagmen, farmers, urbanites and hipsters using colloquialisms and cadence to articulate their thoughts on everything from shearer's stew to love to ageing to mining to horse racing to taxes to indigenous issues to English supermarkets.  They rabble roused, insinuated, amused and saddened.  Such talented storytellers all of them.  And such fun.

Awesome arty things

Snippets of conversation
I love how you overhear bits of conversation as you wander from venue to venue or sit on the hill in the sunshine.  The son and his father speaking about whether or not he love loves his girlfriend or whether he just loves her.  The small lads sharing stories of their lunch dates. The girls laughing so hard that their legs are almost kicking.  The 3 year old that laughs hysterically every time you pass the restaurant which has repurposed toilets into chairs. The old lady wondering why you would want to swallow a sword in the first place let alone make a career out of it.  The girls walking away from the Matt Corby gig wondering why they had never seen him live before and how they would never miss another gig.  The young guy wondering whether to accept a teaching position at a Steiner school or Knox after the holidays.  The lady screaming on her phone to whoever had stood her up and the stranger giving her a hug afterwards and inviting her to join their group.  Tiny, fleeting moments of other people's lives that offer a glimpse into different thoughts, interests and people.

Part of the opening ceremony

And last but not least...

The Whole Shebang
It is not an all inclusive list but we saw GANGajang, Beth Orton, Matt Corby, Clare Bowditch, Castlecombers, Bob Hawke, Brendan Maclean, Simon Sheikh, Tim Finn, Busby Marou, Blue King Brown,  Denise Scott, The Nymphs, Jordie Lane, Joff Bush, the dusk performances by the Pormpuraaw and Injinoo dancers.

Dancing with Daddyo
That was just the talent.  That was without the opening ceremony, the art, the food, the one man band, the games, the cricket matches, the side show, the circus, the venues and that big wagon thing they push.

Dancing to Busby Marou
Clare Bowditch during the storm - absolute favourite gig at Woodford.  That woman has an amazing voice, a big heart and I adored this performance. It was perfect for every sodden moment I spent on the hill that night.  My next favourite was Brendan Maclean's NYE performance - he's snarky, vocally explosive and his music is awesome.  But then there was Tim Finn, Busby Marou, Blue King Brown.... oh you get the picture.

Beautiful surroundings
It was brilliant.  You should go.*

He was the music man
*This is not a sponsored post.  Just a big fat happy new fan.  Though if you want to pay me to review a festival, feel free :-) 


  1. Replies
    1. Really truly. He's spoken there about six times apparently. This time he spoke on modern democracy, abolition of states and told a funny joke. He is a great speaker. He's gotten old though....