IT’S a scorching summer Saturday and I am feasting on freshly-shucked Coffin Bay oysters adorned with a blue quandong jelly and flavoured with non-alcoholic lemon aspen beer. The scene is sizzling and so is the chef. It’s my first foray to Brisbane’s bustling Wandering Cooks precinct for emerging food enterprises. I’ve finished my travel for the year and today it’s my taste buds which are embarking on a journey, ambling way back into ancient Australian culture, but with a modern twist. I am here as a guest of inspiring Indigenous chef Chris Jordan, who is launching Three Little Birds.
Chris, 30, named his enterprise after the favourite song of his father, who died when this creative chef was just two. He remembers little of his dad, and is still learning about his culture, but it’s through native food that he’s diving deep, searching for his mob, his heritage, his home. This is a passionate young man on a mission. He’s already clocked up 15 years as a chef, working with fine dining restaurants and hotels throughout Australia and the UK. But since learning about his Indigenous ancestry, he has focused his work on native Australian ingredients and also studies Indigenous Philosophy at the University of South Australia. Eat that, critics.
Working with elder and celebrated chef Aunty Dale Chapman, Chris has designed a menu which focuses on the four elements of Indigenous culture including air (fermentation), fire (coals), water (seafood), and earth (foraged and native ingredients). His cooking style is based on the traditional Kup Murri: cooking over or in hot coals, and your mouth will revel in the flavours of ancient Australia here. Dishes are designed to be shared, black fella way, and on this delicious day my dining companion and I tuck into this tucker which includes Saltbaked Sweet Potato with native spiced vegan mayo and macadamia; and Native Sustainable Market Fish with lemon myrtle, yoghurt, seaweed and saltbush. There’s also a surprise dish of Scallops with black squid ink. You can practically taste the campfire. If only the ancients could see us now.
Even better, each course is paired with a non-alcoholic beer, brewed by Sobah, Australia’s first Indigenous non-alcoholic beer flavoured with bush tucker ingredients. We work our way through the menu of breezy brews: Lemon Aspen Pilsner; Finger Lime Cerveza; Pepperberry IPA; Davidson Plum Gluten Free Ale; and Boab & Wild Ginger Lager – which turns out to be my favourite for its freshness and fragrance. We finish this feast with a Wattle Seed & Mountain Pepper Brownie with coconut yoghurt and native jam. It’s a five-star feast adorned with First Nations’ flair.
“I strive to use the most local produce,” Chris says.
“By incorporating native and foraged ingredients into the menu, you’ll see how imperative the local Indigenous community is, as I utilise Indigenous seeds and grains sourced from Aunty Dale, who I have worked with for a number of years.
“I’m continuing to learn about my Indigenous heritage which encourages the creativity and style you’ll see among my menu.”
You’ll find mainly plant-based, native Australian food here and meat that has little to no impact on the environment. Seafood is sustainably sourced from a local fishery. Everything harks back to the eco-friendly way in which the first Australians treated the planet and her gifts. With reverence and respect.
“Indigenous knowledge has been like with many young First Nation People, lost in my family due to social and political issues,” Chris says.
“As I reconnect with my ancestry through education and experiences, I want to share that through food and create something that showcases Indigenous knowledge and native food personally.”
I sit here on this stifling Saturday and observe this chef at work. Beads of perspiration are blending with his passion. In a country where conservatives too often want to believe the worst of its oldest surviving culture, here is a young Indigenous man, standing in the cauldron, cooking up a different story. This is a time for dreaming and a new Dreamtime is dawning for ingenious Indigenous men such as Chris, and the mob at Sobah. And like Three Little Birds themselves, this chef is going to fly.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Three Little Birds. To experience this authentic cuisine and culture, head to Wandering Cooks https://wanderingcooks.com.au
Also check out the Three Little Birds website for other pop ups and catering https://3littlebirdsevents.com
For some great non-alcoholic beer with an Indigenous twist, check out Sobah https://sobah.com.au
Three Little Birds is also hosting a major food event at the Woodford Folk Festival on December 30 https://woodfordfolkfestival.com
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
QUEENSLAND’S ICONIC REEF NO BARRIER TO GREAT SEX THIS YEAR
We’ve all heard of sex on the beach, but what about sex on the reef? Queensland’s scuba diving fraternity is poised for the raunchiest sex show on the planet as the Great Barrier Reef prepares for its annual coral spawning season. A combination of warm sea temperatures, plus a late November full moon, has scientists predicting this year’s November 22-24 spawn (or should that be porn?) spectacular will be the best in years. Two Cairns-based dive operators – Tusa Dive and Quicksilver’s Silverswitft – have packed special night diving tours specifically around this event. And if you miss that, on the Southern Great Barrier Reef at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, coral spawning is expected to occur between December 20 and 25. http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au
SUNSHINE COAST SET TO SIZZLE THIS SUMMER
As The Global Goddess prepares to head to Noosa this weekend (it’s all work, I swear it is), it seems timely to give you a snapshot of what you can expect on the Sunshine Coast this summer. Among a menu of tropical treats, you’ll find the Woodford Folk Festival (December 27 to January 1) about which I regularly wax lyrical; and the Ginger Flower & Food Festival (January 17 to 19) – The Global Goddess and ginger have been long-time friends when it comes to rough travel. But you’re really not Australian until you’ve attended the Australia Day Dunny Races at Ettamogah Pub on January 26. While The Global Goddess lost a considerable amount of money last Australia Day at Brisbane’s Story Bridge Hotel backing a racing cockroach she called The Global Goddess (we’re lovers, not fighters), perhaps she should consider a dunny race next time? And if I met a bloke there, imagine the toilet humour stories we could tell at our wedding. http://www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au
GIRLS LIKE TO GET DIRTY
No, I’m not talking about some kind of crazy Russian porn flick, but the Dirty Girls 4×4 Weekend on Brisbane’s Moreton Island. Following its super successful sellout first weekend this year, Global Jamboree has announced this event will be held once a month in 2014. Billed as the ideal girls’ getaway, you can spend your days 4WDing around stunning Moreton Island on its long beach tracks and beautiful bush trails, exploring its expansive national park, before returning to your luxury tent and the recently-opened Glampsites. Each tent here is furnished with a queen-size bed and private ensuite and veranda. The Global Goddess might just have to grab some of her girl gang and head over. http://www.globaljamboree.com.au
NOW YOU CAN SCOOT TO HONG KONG
Some of the best headline writers in the airline game, Scoot, is encouraging passengers on this Low Cost Carrier of the Year to “don’t be dim, save sum loot” and enjoy its new service to Hong Kong. The service, launched last week, is Scoot’s 12th city in 7 countries. Twenty years ago, when The Global Goddess was a cadet journalist in the Murdoch empire, she was sent to Hong Kong for four months to gain some valuable experience. It changed her world, from the sunny Gold Coast to the bright lights and big city of this vibrant Asian destination. You too can Scoot to Hong Kong with fares from Singapore – Scoot’s hub – starting at SGD$119, one-way, including taxes. There’s some great deals on flights out of Australia to Singapore to connect you with Scoot’s other destinations in the region. http://www.flyscoot.com
SUPPORT SASSY SURVIVORS
Those sassiest of sheilas, Gold Coast-based Sassy Survivors which supports young women with breast cancer, have published an awesome calendar for 2014. This colourful calendar, designed to show there can be a positive side to breast cancer, did so well in its first year it expected to sell 100 calendars and ended up selling 1200. The 2014 Sassy Survivors calendar is aimed at reminding people there is life after breast cancer. All money raised from calendar sales, which is just $15 plus postage, goes towards continuing to assist young women battling this disease. And, as the cover below shows, it’s fun, it’s flirty, it’s fabulous, just like this terrific organisation. And what a great Christmas present it will make! http://sassysurvivors.org/sassy-survivors-2014-calendar/
IT’S not easy being green. Just ask Amie Green, Head of Garbology at the Woodford Folk Festival. Amusing aptronym’s aside (for those, like me, who only learned a few years ago that an aptronym is when someone’s name pertains to their job), garbage is serious business. Amie, 32, runs Green Chief and works with a number of different festivals including the Island Vibes, Rainbow Serpent and Festival of the Sun, among others. But Woodford, which is staged every year in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland between Christmas and New Year, stands out due to its cultural impact on patrons and spreading the message of environmental sustainability.
Rubbish! I hear you scoff. Bin there, done that…So what’s so fascinating about garbage? Well, plenty, according to Amie who has been involved with the festival since 2010 and is in charge of seven departments who work together to keep this 200 hectare site clean. “The biggest part of my job is making sure we reuse and recycle all that is bought onto the festival site, so it’s the nuts and bolts of picking up litter, separating cardboard and plastics and then managing an area called The Compost Lounge,” she says.
“Mapping where our bins are located in itself is quite interesting and getting into the psychology of littering and the flow of people in what is essentially a mini city for a week.
“I’m primarily a people person because when you have to motivate nearly 100 volunteers on a daily basis over nearly a month, especially in a department that is usually devoid of glamour, my passion really has to shine through.”
So, what kinds of people litter? “If you’ve got litter on the ground it becomes a kind of social norm and then you think it’s OK to litter. Some people think if they are going to a festival and paying $500 for a ticket they give away some kind of responsibility as a human. They expect someone to clean up after them,” Amie says.
And sometimes they leave the strangest things. Earlier this year at another festival, Amie found two giant squid which had been left in discarded sleeping bags.
“My job just gets bigger towards the end of the festival, when people are leaving their campsites behind and suddenly these cheap camping chairs are being discarded,” Amie says.
“We’ve found whole campsites with tents, sleeping bags and even beer left behind. It can be demoralizing on these days to see what an impact our disposable culture has had on people’s values. People think they are leaving behind something that can be donated, but while we recycle what we can, much of it can’t be given away as it’s been damaged or poorly made.
“But for every discarded tent, I can see that four campsites around have taken the time to pick up glitter, cigarette butts and generally fluff the place as they found it. That keeps me going.”
This year, Amie will be pushing a “Love your tent, love your campsite” message designed at encouraging people to buy quality camp gear which lasts, and to continue their good practices of recycling right through to when they are leaving the Woodford site. To assist with this, the festival will be providing larger recycling bins.
If you think keeping a large chunk of Australian bush clean is easy, consider this: around 110,000 people flow through this site in a week, and many, like me, camp for that entire time. That’s a lot of garbage, all of it which must be removed from the site by the end of the festival. But Woodford embraces this through bars which are themed with recycled materials, The Greenhouse tent devoted solely to talks on the environment and by showcasing the natural beauty of the site itself – rolling hills, bush and outdoor ampitheatres.
A Garbologist for five years, Amie says many people don’t think about what has to happen outside of the actual event, for it to run smoothly. For the first time this year at Woodford, there will also be a new compost education scheme in which festival patrons will be educated about the fact the bowls, plates and cutlery from which they dine at festival food outlets, can be composted.
“I have to admit it was one of those kinds of jobs you just fall into. I had studied Entertainment Industry Management to an honours level a couple of years previously and it was a very broad course that was a business degree relating to the entertainment and music industries specifically,” she says.
“After speaking at a few industry conferences on behalf of A Greener Festival, I was asked a pilot project for a 10,000 people festival called Rainbow Serpent. They wanted to increase their recycling rate. So I trained some volunteers to stand at bins and educate patrons about what goes where. The volunteers loved it, they dressed up as ninjas and jumped out at people as an icebreaker before letting them know that their cup was compostable, for instance.
“Other festivals heard about me and my business and wanted to same thing for their festival. It’s just grown organically from there.”
A festival which puts the lid on litter in the bid to create a greener, leaner world. What’s not to love?
NEW ROUTE TO SCOOT TO SINGAPORE
Those wags at Scoot, the Low Cost Carrier of the Year, reckon it’s the Perth-fect way to travel to Singapore. Yep, not only is the big yellow bird offering a new route from Perth to Singaling, but due to huge interest, they have now advanced the first flight by one week. Scoot will now operate four additional flights starting on December 12, offering an extra 3200 seats during the busy pre-Christmas period. Fares, including taxes, start at just $169 from Perth and return from Singapore from $99. But you don’t have to live on Australia’s west coast to enjoy Scoot. The Global Goddess had the fortune of flying with them from the Gold Coast (she adores Coolangatta airport’s code: OOL) to Singapore and beyond to Bangkok in August. It’s a great carrier offering healthy competition to some of the bigger birds in the sky. And that’s always a great thing for Australian travellers. To book your flight, go to http://www.flyscoot.com
MORE EYES ON THE SKY
Looking a little further afield in the aviation industry, Lufthansa is offering some great deals to Europe for Aussie travellers. For sale until November 30, passengers can choose from 52 destinations for AUD883 plus tax. Lufthansa was the first airline The Global Goddess ever flew on. It was 1987 and she had been awarded a scholarship to travel to Germany. Believe it or not, Michael Jackson (yes, MJ!) was on her plane and she secured his autograph, which she still has. Jacko may be long gone, but Lufthansa lives on and goes from strength to strength. The German flagship carrier has just been named Europe’s Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards for the third time in a row, and its sixth time overall and plans to invest more than 3 billion Euro into its services over the coming months. On top of all of this, they’ve just launched a new online journey planner, to make your travels as seamless as possible. In the words of the immortal Michael Jackson: that’s a thriller. Go to http://www.germany.travel
LIFE IS CRUISEY IN FIJI
IT’S been almost a decade since The Global Goddess last cruised Fiji, but it remains one of her most memorable journeys. Those same smooth operators at Captain Cook Cruises have just released their 2014 departure dates for their two, seven-night Northern Fiji Discovery Cruises: The Four Cultures Discovery Cruise and Colonial Fiji Discovery Cruise. On The Four Cultures Discovery Cruise – the first Fiji cruise to circumnavigate Vanua Levu, passengers have the chance to experience four distinct Fijian cultures, as well as visit remote villages and schools. The Colonial Fiji Discovery Cruise reveals the unique history, art and culture of the Northern Fiji Islands as well as offering the ultimate experience of standing on the natural International Dateline. There’s also day trips to islands, waterfalls, lagoons, volcanic craters, hot springs, thriving markets and children’s choral church service. Throw in a plenty of swimming, snorkelling and diving, and you’ll be feeling like a young Brooke Shields before you know it. http://www.captaincook.com.fj
GET TECHWRECKED IN VANUTAU
The Global Goddess is breathlessly counting down the weeks till a planned work trip to Vanuatu and beautiful Bokissa takes place in early 2014. (In the meantime she is happy to gaze lovingly at this photo below). But before today, she had never heard of the phrase Nomophobia (fear of being out of mobile phone contact). Essentially, on the private island of Bokissa, mobile phone service is so notoriously unreliable, you are forced to undergo a digital detox. Instead of technology, you’ll have to content yourself with day dreaming, fishing, paddling a kayak, diving and that unmistakable squeak as pure white sand pours between your toes. Sure, you can find a place or two in the guest lounge if you simply must have internet connection, or you can spend your days walking through the 71 hectares of rainforest with the butterflies instead. Accommodation is in TV, radio and phone-free air-conditioned fales with their own private deck chairs, gardens and hammocks. This traveller, for one, can hardly wait to get there and switch off, in every sense of the word. http://www.bokissa.com
BIG IDEAS HAPPEN IN SMALL PLACES
In this week’s blog, The Global Goddess unveiled the happiest destination on the planet: The People’s Republic of Woodford. Woodfordia, a Utopia which occurs for just one week every years, between Christmas and New Year, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Now, those creatives behind the festival, has just announced a new concert touring program – The Festival of Small Halls – in which cool music gigs will be played at beautiful old halls in rural Australia. Designed in partnership with Woodford’s fellow festivals around the country, international and national artists will perform at a big festival and then stay on to share the love at a nearby small hall for a month in between. The pilot tour happens next month, at the Mullum Music Festival, and will tour 16 small halls in Queensland, before arriving at the Woodford Folk Festival. For a list of halls, dates, artists and other information, check out http://www.festivalofsmallhalls.com and don’t forget to book your Woodford tickets at http://www.woodfordfolkfestival.com The Global Goddess reckons it’s going to be one sizzling summer, with plenty of cool things to do.
FOR one week every year, one magical week between Christmas and New Year, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland behind the tiny township of Woodford, exists the People’s Republic of Woodford. The Woodford Festival. If you’re looking for an antidote to a frenetic year, a chance to recharge your batteries, to find a destination that for one week only represents the way the world should be, head to “Woodfordia” where reality is suspended, if only for the briefest of times.
On this beautiful 200 hectare environmental parkland, which has withstood the scourge of floods and scorching summers, people are nicer to each other, they dance, laugh and sing. Talk to complete strangers. Engage in debates about the universe, global warming, coal seam gas, fracking, and euthanasia. Dance under huge tents, play the bongos, dine on exotic cuisine, strum guitars, learn how to paint, draw and craft things. They hug trees, hug each other. Trek to the top of the hill and honour the last sunset of the year and the first sunrise of the next. Sit under the Southern Cross and in a huge bush ampitheatre indulge in that unmistakable Australian sound emanating from new bands. Discover foreign groups. Honour the Indigenous custodians of the land in Jinibara Country on which they sit. Chat around the campsite.
If the Woodford Folk Festival isn’t Utopia, then it’s about as close to Nirvana as you will find. What other place on the planet do you line up to fill your recycled bottle with rainwater to discover the person in front has already paid for it? This is a destination where paying it forward looms large. Egos are suspended. Bonhomie reigns. The Global Goddess has been attending Woodford for about a decade, at first apprehensive that it was a bit of a hippie festival with which she would have no connection. Back in the early days I didn’t camp but drove home to Brisbane every night to the comfort of a warm shower and a soft bed. As the years wore on, I started out in a basic tent pitched in the campsite of my friends. I slept like the dead, to the sounds of distant beating drums. I awoke each morning to the cacophony of the Aussie bush.
These days, we’ve upgraded, our site becoming more sophisticated as we sleep in a campervan, our friends in a Kombi, a tarp strung between the two, mapping out our home for the week. There’s Moet in the esky and aged cheese and strawberries in the fridge. We eat fancy pancakes for breakfast. Brew real coffee. And sit down and pour over the program and plan the day ahead. This year’s program, just released late last week, promises to be a corker. Highlights of this year’s festival include singers Beth Orton, Tim Finn and Clare Bowditch; Environmentalist Professor Ian Lowe; former politician Bob Hawke and, yet-to-be-confirmed Malcolm Turnbull; comedian Denise Scott; writer Blanch D’Alpuget.
And there’s some acts always worth revisiting among the diverse performance venues on the site. The Global Goddess likes to spend her time in the Blue Lotus tent listening to talks on spirituality. Sometimes I sit on the hill and watch stunning Spaniards introduce me to fast and frenetic music with a tinge of Hawaii Five’O. Other days, it’s in Bills Bar you’ll find me, people watching as much as music listening, having a cold beer before heading down the hill to the Blues Tent. A couple of belly laughs in the Comedy Tent is also a nice way to end the evening and as I stumble back to camp to the glow of paper lanterns, I’m likely to stop several times, for a tea and a carob ball in the Chai Tent, a cold drink in the Pineapple Lounge, a bit of jazz, a circus act, some Indian or Tibetan music along the way.
Last year’s festival saw 2,200 artists and musicians perform across 25 venues to an audience of 113,000 people over that wonderful week. A steady program of tree planting over the years, in which attendees can “adopt” a tree, has resulted in the 101,000th tree planted in Woodfordia soil this year. Some years there’s dust. Others, it rains and there’s mud. Bring your gum boots. Embrace nature and creativity. Random acts of music. Robust acts of kindness. That’s my idea of Utopia. What’s yours?
For more information on the Woodford Festival please visit http://www.woodfordfolkfestival.com
“An awkward morning is better than a lonely night,” Graffiti on the toilet wall at The Woodford Folk Festival.
I’M in Bill’s Bar when the delightful Doreen takes my order. “He must be hot, young and smart,” I tell her. Doreen isn’t just any old waitress, she works at the Meet Market where dating dreams come true. “What else do I want?” I ask Doreen. “Someone who treats you like the Goddess that you are,” she replies. “How do you know I’m a Goddess?” I ask her in amazement. “Darl, when you’ve been in this game long enough, you just know.” And with that, she hands me a carbon copy of my order straight from her notebook.
Unfortunately, later that day, Doreen also accosts one of my gorgeous gay male friends and tells him she can find plenty of women for him. Gay-dars, it appears, don’t work quite so well out in the Australian bush.
I’m at the annual Woodford Folk Festival, about an hour and a half north-west of Brisbane, re-setting my soul for the year ahead. The previous evening in The Joy Luck Club tent I’ve already attended Jon Bennett’s show “Pretending Things are a Cock”, which is pretty much as the title suggests. Jon’s brother Tim used to be obsessed with his own penis, to the point he would put it in Jon’s ear. A childhood prank has since spawned a career for Jon, who now travels the globe, taking photos of all things phallic. You’ve never thought of the Statue of Liberty as a penis? Think again.
But if you think this is a sex fest, you’d be mistaken. Nor is it only for happy hippies. For one week between Christmas and New Year, Woodford is the place where ordinary people can simply suspend reality. Listen to some great music, participate in enlightening talks, meet random people, eat, dance, laugh and camp. A place for acrobrats and artists. And most of all, where you can open your mind. Shake off the cobwebs of the year just gone.
So successful is this festival, which has battled every challenge from stinking hot summers where crowd numbers wilted, to flooding rains which devastated the site, that former and current Prime Ministers make it their business to be there. Clad in t.shirt and jeans, Prime Minister Julia Gillard tells the packed Concert tent the story of a friend’s children, a little girl and a little boy. The little boy tells the little girl he wants to be Prime Minister when he grows up, to which the little girl responds: “You can’t. Only women in Australia can be Prime Minister.”
The crowd laughs, but nor is this a love fest. The dirty, smouldering issues like coal seam gas, fracking, climate change and whaling in the Southern Ocean simmer all week long in the Greenhouse tent where experts such as Professor Ian Lowe talks about the rise of the Eco Warrior.
In the middle of a sassy summer storm after a sultry day, a panel in The Blue Lotus tent is talking about bullying and examining how it may be linked to creating a creative class. Those kids that are picked on and socially isolated learn some pretty crafty tricks such as conjuring up imaginary friends with whom to play. Daydreaming of nicer, colourful worlds where everyone is kind. They become the masters of perceptiveness, awareness, intuition.
Under the canvas at The Grande, Spain meets surf music in the form of long-haired Latinos Los Coronas, a band which sounds like matadors have arrived in Maui. Acclaimed Aboriginal singer Archie Roach packs The Amphi & Hilltop stage as does the John Butler Trio. Kate Miller-Heidke kills it at The Concert and Women in Docs is in luck at The Duck.
Back in The Blue Lotus, Sunshine Coast Astrologer Lyvea Rose doles out the skinny on the year ahead. “Between 2013 and 2015, the corrupt kings will fall. The hippy movement which started in the 60s will be realised. Don’t attach to old structures like banks and bosses. It’s a revolution of the heart. Make love, not war. Become the king or queen of your own life. Simplify your life. It’s an excellent year for healers and artists.”
And best of all? Venus is apparently more laid-back this year. Women will be pursued by men. It is, according to Lyvea, a “sexy and stylish” year.
Happy 2013. May your most delicious dreams and wildest desires come true. I know what mine are. I’d love to hear some of yours…
To find out more about the Woodford Folk Festival go to www.woodfordfolkfestival.com