At age 14 I went to my first ever music festival and I was instantly sucked in. People unashamedly expressing themselves, strangers becoming friends and unforgettable performances that I still think about today. Since that blissful weekend in 2008, I’ve been to over 20 music festivals around the world.
Having spent the past two years living in Australia, Australian festivals hold a special place in my heart. I’m not sure exactly what it is, maybe because they’re a lot less commercialised or the fact that they’re a more intimate affair with the highest capacity being around 17,000. Whereas in comparison, Glastonbury sees ten times this amount of festival-goers each year.
Whatever it is I can’t quite put my finger on the special sauce, but what I will say is this is just one of those times where you’re going to have to experience it first hand.
Although at my first festival I felt pretty unprepared, these days I’ve got preparation down to an art, albeit a very last minute one.
Whether you’re new to Australian music festivals, or are just a bit nosy and want the inside scoop, keep reading for the ultimate guide of everything you need to know before your first Australian music festival.
When people do outfits they do outfits. No expense is spared.
My first Australian music festival I did my best considering I was a backpacker at this point and owned a grand total of like five outfits all which had been on rotation for the past five months. However, when I got there I realised here lack of clothes would not be an issue.
Topless women, naked women, partially naked men and no one blinking an eye and you know what? It was SO freeing. A huge contrast from everyday life where if you show a bit of elbow you’re “clearly asking for it”.
If it’s your first Aussie festival the best advice I can give you is not to pack outfits but to pack costumes. One for each day and maybe another if you decide to go full Beyonce and do an outfit change halfway through the day. Have I done this? Absolutely.
Again it gets cold at night so I love a synthetic/faux fur jacket and some cosy (but outfit appropriate) leggings or flares. Shout out to all my nude sleepers don’t forget actual pyjamas – trying to get to sleep when you’re freezing cold is not a joke.
2. The Weather
In the UK when a festival provides instructions to prepare for all weathers usually they mean pack a bit of suncream and hope it doesn’t piss it down all weekend. In Australia, it can mean – it’s going to be 40 degrees for an entire weekend, we didn’t expect this and y’all are gonna buuuurn.
I promise you there are few worse things to experience at a music festival than having heatstroke in what is essentially a desert. On one particular occasion, where my tent was exhibiting oven-like temperatures, I spent the afternoon splayed out in the open, clutching my airbed praying to Satan that the end would come to me soon.
On the flip side, surprisingly it can also get bitterly cold in the evenings. It’s not uncommon to have a 35 degree day followed by a 12 degree night.
Along with your parasols and sun cream remember to chuck in a few blankets and warm clothes.
3. Home away from home
If you’ve been to a festival in Europe you’ll know a marquee and a couple of camping chairs constitutes a good set up. I once turned up to pick up my friend for one of said Australian festivals and she had FOUR bags of stuff including a duvet, a full-length mirror, a rug oh yeah and a game of Twister. We love her though.
In Australia there are no holds barred. From rugs to actual sofas. A campsite set up here is bigger than some of the living rooms in places I’ve lived. Whatever you decide make sure to bring a marquee to protect you against those delightful Aussie weather changes.
4. Beware the dust
Desert + dancing = dust.
I’d never experienced dust on a dancefloor until my first festival is Australia and although there’s nothing you can do to prevent it you can certainly protect yourself from coughing up a lung when you get home. If you’re a contact lens wearer, make sure to take daily lenses and eye drops. You may even want to change your lenses a couple of times a day if your eyes get particularly dry.
For protecting your mouth and nose a lot of people use bandanas or even masks (keeping in with the outfit theme).
5.BYOB (and cooler)
A lot of Australian music festivals are Bring Your Own Booze, which means you can take alcohol into the main arena. This is a huge money saver and can save all important time queuing for a drink in the blistering heat.
Some festivals have restrictions on what you can take so be sure to check that out or risk having your alcohol taken away from you. As a general rule, no glass is allowed so remember to decant everything into plastic bottles. Broken glass is fun for no one. Much less so when everyone’s drunk and barefoot… If you, like me, aren’t a fan of warm vodka bring your alcohol in a cool box or “Esky” as the Aussies call them. You can top it up with ice when you’re there.
6. What not to take
A camping fire.
Funny story. We once took a camping stove to one of the festivals we went to. And me being me (permanently hungry) decided to make myself some breakfast while everyone was still sleeping. I’d never actually lit a camping fire before but how hard could it be right?
Click. Click. Nothing.
Click. Click. Flames.
Great! Wait, no actually, not great. The flames had begun to spread to the ground and also up the side of my friend’s marquee. Shiiiit. I waved frantically to get someone’s attention. They thought I was just wishing them good morning and waved back. Then they saw the panic on my face and the firey pit of hell I had created and came rushing over.
Next, my friend came out of the tent to see what all the commotion was about. Looking at me and screaming what had I done. We were all hungover, freaking out and also really not well versed in how to put out a gas fire. Top tip – throwing an alcoholic beverage on the flames is not the way to do it.
Finally, someone managed to pat it out with a microfibre towel but oh my god that minute of panic… The whole campsite was so dry, tents are highly flammable – it really could have been a different story. Though I can laugh about it now, cooking some bacon in the morning really isn’t worth nearly killing your whole campsite so please don’t do it *monkey hands in face emoji*.
7. Embrace the unexpected
Go see a set from someone you’ve never heard of. Wear something crazy or even nothing at all. Take part in that satanic soul sacrificing ritual. Say yes to all the things (except maybe that last one).
If you feel unwell never feel bad for just taking some time out, going and sitting at your campsite or if you’re feeling really bad to the medical tent. Just make sure your friends know where you are so they don’t worry. If you see someone who’s clearly gone too hard make sure they’re hydrated and get the attention of a medic if needed.
Yes, it might take five minutes out of your fun, but you could be saving someone’s life from a simple action. Adding to that if one of your friends (or you see someone) sleeping in the sun don’t let them burn to a crisp. Or at least not full crisp, wait ’til half-baked then wake them up
and eat them.
Most of all, have fun and let loose. Make new friends and new memories. Oh, and don’t forget to watch out for spiders…
What about you guys? Have you ever been to an Australian music festival? Would you like to?
Let me know in the comments!
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