The 10 life lessons I learned at the Woodford Folk Festival…that I’ll be taking into 2018


THE almost full moon is playing hide and seek under a tattered crochet rug of cloud and I am crouched around Clyde’s Pond, admiring acrobats. Hours earlier, I’d missed the annual ritual of climbing to the Hilltop at the Woodford Folk Festival to applaud the last sunset of 2017. The weather had other plans, you see. But the fierce thunderstorm predicted for the site, in the belly of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, barely raised its voice, as I sought shelter in the Coopers Bar, cradling a cold beer, and singing with the motley musicians gathered in a circle. Turns out Grandma’s Feather Bed was not a shabby Plan B at all.

New Year’s Eve 2017 and the rain retreats as quickly as it’s gathered, cleansing the site, showering our souls. If ever there is a place to spend that no-man’s land which is the week between Christmas and New Year’s, this is it. A time for replenishment and renewal. And here’s the 10 things I took away from this year’s event.

1. Go with the flow
I deliberately go to the Woodford Folk Festival with very few plans (aside from climbing to the Hilltop for the last sunset of 2017…and look how that worked out). Because, life, as we know it, has other ideas. And besides, with so much of life scheduled, where I can, I try to toss away the calendar. If I’m working from home in Brisbane, sure, I have an idea of what I’d like to achieve that day, but things get in the way. And if I’m travelling, I’m even more open to the universe. And that’s the lesson. Go with the flow and you will be richly rewarded.
2. Silence is golden
My second favourite tradition of the Woodford Folk Festival, and one where no weather can interfere, is the three-minutes of silence the entire site respects at precisely 11.30pm on New Year’s Eve. For three eerie and earthy minutes, all the bands ground to a halt, and 35,000 visitors on site pause to remember those they’ve loved and lost that year, while holding a lit candle. In a world in which we are inundated with noise, there’s a maudlin magic to this moment. Try and snatch a few seconds of silence every day.

3. Talk to strangers
Remember when you were a kid, and you were ferociously warned against talking to strangers, and for good reason? Well, you’re an adult now. Woodford has this precious power that upon entering the festival, you become a better version of yourself. Kinder, softer, more gentle with yourself and those around you. And all of a sudden, you find yourself chatting to complete strangers. Revelling in a shared experience. Maybe take some of this back out onto the city streets. You might be surprised at its effects.

4. Nourish yourself
Not only did I indulge in some fabulous food at the festival: think slow-cooked lamb and the best Yemeni chicken wrap I’ve ever eaten (OK, so I’ve never eaten anything from Yemen, which made this even more special) – but Woodford is all about nourishing the mind, body and soul. Take the time to have more massages, do some yoga, join a meditation group, take an art class, try something different. Love thyself and treat yourself like you want others to treat you.

5. Give peace a chance
There was a really interesting installation at this year’s festival, a replica of the Montreal bed in which John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their “love-in” for peace. Visitors could dress up in some cool gear and plonk onto this bed, to have their photo taken. There was also a flash mob for peace, and plenty of signs promoting peace. After all, if we don’t give peace a chance, what chance have we got? Embrace peace, whether it’s big or small. You don’t have to fight every battle.

6. Nothing is ever what it appears
Random acts? They’ve got them in droves at the Woodford Folk Festival. One minute you’ll be walking down a weirdly-named ally (there’s plenty of these here too), the next, you’ll stumble across some punchy performers. When is a pineapple not a pineapple? When it’s a bar, of course. Keep your eyes and your mind open to life, and the good stuff seeps in.

7. It’s OK to play
Give yourself permission to play. Dress up in a costume, assume an alter ego, let your imagination run as wild as a brumby over an open field. You’ll find plenty of play at Woodford. Step out of your version of you and wrap yourself around a wilder adaptation. Go to a local park and jump on the swings. Dance around the house. Sing in the shower. Catch waves at the beach. Plunge deep into yourself and pluck out that child that once played.

8. Connect more
Sure, we live in the most technological era in history, but how much do we really connect with those around us? How close are you really to your 500 Facebook friends? Check in on your mates. Go crazy, pick up the phone and ask them out for dinner or a drink. Two things I loved at Woodford – this gigantic post box where visitors were encouraged to pen a letter to someone on site, and it would be delivered; and the phone a granny booth, where, for various hours each day, you could catch a chat with grandma.

9. Recycle more
The fine folk of the Woodford Folk Festival have been leading the way with recycling for years and each festival, it just gets better and better. (That’s another thing I love about Woodford, you can go every year, and there’s always something different). I adored the giant bamboo structure in the guts of the ground; had a few lazy drinks in the Vinyl Lounge (think your grandmother’s living room); and adored the giant sculptures made from recycled materials.

10. Smile more
I can’t count the number of complete strangers who caught my eye with a smile at the Woodford Folk Festival. And yes, it’s infectious. The next minute, I’m smiling at complete strangers, and then they’re smiling at complete strangers. You get my drift. And do plan a trip to Woodford this year. You’ll smile so much, your cheeks will ache.

The Global Goddess was a guest of the Woodford Folk Festival. To find out more about the 2018 festival, or other events on the site during the year including The Planting Festival, from May 4 to 6, go to https://woodfordfolkfestival.com

Check out Last Minute for great accommodation deals on the Sunshine Coast Last Minute

First World Problems

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ISN’T it ironic, don’t you think? Yes, a little too ironic that the day I am meant to be reviewing a show called First World White Girls, every imaginable First World problem rears its ugly head. I wake up from a delectable deep sleep courtesy of last night’s meditation class (First World White Girls love yoga and meditation) and wonder what the universe has in store for me this day. Like other First World White Girls around the planet, I reach over in bed for my MacBook Air (you don’t expect me to sleep with a PC, do you?) and switch it on, only to find one of those mosquito bite emails that is going to itch all day. I sigh, and go and make my Vietnamese coffee (I’d rather DIE than drink instant), check a few more emails, and get ready for my yoga class.

Photo by Nick Morrissey

Photo by Nick Morrissey


There’s a green tea (First World White Girls adore green tea) and avocado on Ryvita before I have to head to a GP appointment in my air-conditioned car (I mean, really, who can live without aircon?). But wouldn’t you know it, I have to wait a whole 30 minutes in the doctor’s surgery (OK, it was on a comfy seat, with a flat screen TV, my iPhone and magazines to keep me company). I get free blood tests and pay $75 for my appointment, of which I will receive $37 back on Medicare (You mean I have to PAY something for great health care). My female doctor (yes, a woman) pens a string of scripts for other things, like valium, which are designed to make my White Girl First World more bearable.
Photo by Nick Morrissey

Photo by Nick Morrissey


I head off to lunch – sushi of course – with a gay male friend (First World White Girls always have gay male friends), and while waiting for my second green tea of the day and my lunch, my mate and me take turns at complaining about our mornings. Lunch takes 30 minutes to arrive, a point I make of mentioning to the waiter (does he not KNOW I’m busy?) and on the way home I pick up a skinny chai latte (First World White Girls love chai latte). But I’m annoyed as I go to pay with the spare $50 floating around my wallet and wouldn’t you know it, the till is stuck and I can neither pay nor receive my chai. Just as that serious issue is fixed, I head upstairs in the shopping centre to pick up my library books (which cost me 50 cents to reserve) but I can’t just swipe my card and leave, as I owe the library $10.20. This time my eftpos card won’t work, and so I have to pay in cash. I mean, how annoying, right?
Photo by Nick Morrissey

Photo by Nick Morrissey


The afternoon is spent writing, emailing and surfing Facebook until I have to knock off early and have a long, hot bath (my First World White Girl muscles are tight from all the yoga, you see) before picking up my friend for the show. But I get stuck in traffic in my air-conditioned car, and while I listen to music on my choice of radio stations, I shake my head at what a First World White Girl day I’m having. My friend jumps in my vehicle and we complain all the way to Brisbane’s Judith Wright Centre, where we stop briefly for a burger before the show. I’m relieved to find the burger joint also sells wine, I mean, after the incredibly GRUELLING day I’ve had, how could ANYONE go without wine. I snatch another one just before we enter the theatre.
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If you see nothing else this year, try to get to a production of First World White Girls somewhere around Australia for this is quite possibly the best reminder you will ever have of what a fortunate life we lead. Written, composed and performed by Brisbane cabaret artists Judy Hainsworth and Kaitlin Oliver Parker, this one-hour performance is punchy and perky without being at all preachy. Dressed in floral frocks, faux fur stoles, beige shoes and hair that is coiffed to perfection, the two proceed to entertain the audience with their singing, dancing and dialogue. “Just because we have food, water and espresso pods, doesn’t mean life is easy for us,” they quip, in between sipping on San Pellegrino bottles, with a straw.
Photo by Nick Morrissey

Photo by Nick Morrissey


In fact, the audience is invited to participate, by writing down one (just one) First World problem on a piece of paper, which is then collected in a Tiffany bag, and read out at random. I wrote: “I can’t find a boyfriend” and regular
Global Goddess readers will know this is a life-threatening issue for me. There’s even a checklist to discern whether you are a First World White Girl which includes:
• If you throw a fit when there’s no free wi-fi
• If you chip your $80 manicure
• If you get teased for owning an Android phone
• If your friend spoils the end of Game of Thrones before you get a chance to watch it
• If you get a disastrous spray tan the day before you are bridesmaid at your best friend’s wedding
I know, I know! These are all very real issues, and I’m not sure why the UN isn’t stepping in to solve them.
Photo by Nick Morrissey

Photo by Nick Morrissey


By the end of this show you will have laughed your head off (that doesn’t literally happen in the First World) and taken a good, hard look at yourself. This performance may not solve all of the planet’s issues, but it does take a giant leap towards solving some of our First World Problems.
The Global Goddess was a guest of the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, which has a great program of eclectic performances throughout the year – http://www.judithwrightcentre.com To see where First World White Girls are playing next go to http://www.firstworldwhitegirls.com.au
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