My plan is to talk about some of the highlights of our Festival experience, rather than going into details.
Thursday 8th April – to Pinjarra Overnight Free Camping
The reason to stay in Pinjarra overnight was to be close to Fairbridge so we could join the queue in the morning to wait for the gates to open. We enjoyed an evening walk over the road bridge and back along the footbridge before our evening meal.
Friday 9th April – to Fairbridge to queue up at 7.10 a.m.
In the morning we had cups of tea and a small hot cross bun each before going to the dump point and heading to Fairbridge. I’d forgotten to bring Panadol so we stopped at the service station on the way to see what they had. Stephen also picked up a loaf of bread which was very useful over the weekend.
We arrived at 7.10 am and there was already a queue for the opening at 9.00 am. I had breakfast and a coffee as we waited.
There was a bit of a delay in opening the gates, but we were able to choose a good camping spot with some morning shade. This also proved to be a good spot in sheltering us somewhat from high winds on Friday evening.
As usual, we felt unsure what to go to see at the beginning of the festival, it takes a day and a half to get into the rhythm. The major highlight was the wind. We went to Manja, the big tent for the evening concert. The wind was making the tent groan and the stage lights move backwards and forwards. I was pretty scared and persuaded Stephen to move closer to one of the exits. Another problem was that between the sounds inside the tent and noise from the other big venue we couldn’t really hear much of the concert.
I only felt vindicated for being so anxious the next day when people told us that the tent was evacuated. Apparently it took ages to get everyone out. Amazing that I seemed to be the only person there who was worried.
Saturday 10th April – Fairbridge
Saturday was warm and sunny and we alternated between time in the larger venues and the Clubhouse and loft. There were limits on numbers at the smaller venues and we decided to give up on joining queues, just seek out other places to be.
Sunday 11th April – Fairbridge
We got up early Sunday morning to go to the chapel for the Singing the Spirit concert. We knew there would be a queue so Stephen left ahead of me to line up. It had rained a lot in the night and we dodged showers getting there. I bought some breakfast to save time and had to sit outside under shelter as we weren’t allowed to take food and coffee into the venue. Singing the Spirit is a variety concert, which is why it’s interesting.
After the concert we headed back to the van and had lunch. Much of the field was under water and it was quite a business avoiding mud and puddles. There is only one road in and out of the field and we could see that it was getting very churned up and muddy.
Many campers pack up on Sunday and whilst having our lunch in the comfort of the van we watched our neighbours packing up a camper trailer and Campervan. There was heavy, driving rain the whole time and they appeared to have decided to ignore it, opening doors and hatches whilst the rain poured in and only one was wearing a rain coat. I just hope they couldn’t see us!
A highlight of the afternoon was a singing workshop where we were able to join the other singers in almost perfecting The Parting Glass. I shared a short video of this on Facebook. It was taken by one of the organisers. Iris is the name of the group.
One of our favourite acts was a husband and wife duo performing songs whilst they entertained us sending up themselves and German culture. They were one of the very few non Western Australian acts and had come from Germany to Sydney, undergone quarantine there, the they drove to Western Australia. We liked them for not taking themselves seriously at all.
The husband is Australian and it reinforces my feeling that Australians complaining about being ‘stranded’ overseas are missing something. People with Australian citizenship and their partners appear to have little difficulty coming here to visit.
We sampled various types of food, but nothing really wonderful except some chips that I bought as a snack which stayed crisp till the end and were definitely the best we’ve had. We also enjoyed some masala chai at the Beatles concert with Bernard Carney. Stephen had said he didn’t want to end up going, but it was the nicest venue and our German duo turned up as guest artists. We had wanted a cider, but one bar was very crowded and the other had run out of cider. The chai turned out to be a highlight,
Monday 12th April – back to Pinjarra for dump point and breakfast at the Dome
By Monday morning much of the water had drained away, though it highlighted how muddy and deeply rutted the road was. We got ready to leave quickly to avoid being the last out. Stephen walked ahead of the van to stop peacocks or peahens coming onto the road. I didn’t want to stop and risk being bogged. Stephen kept walking ahead until after I drove around a corner and onto the main field. He missed seeing the van slipping and sliding around the corner and said ‘well, that wasn’t as bad as we thought’. I wish he had turned around!
We went back to Pinjarra, which is about 5 kms away, and stopped off at the dump point before going to the Dome for breakfast. A lovely way to finish off.
As I’ve been writing lots of other details about our experience have come to mind. We caught up with Eversley for a while on Saturday and she came back to the van with us for a cup of tea and a rest. We saw lots of people we know, but mostly just in passing as we moved between different venues.
It was pretty amazing that the organisers were able to set up such a full programme in the circumstances. They hadn’t skimped on the children’s activities and I gather there were still the special youth concerts as well. There wasn’t much social distancing so we can only hope that we didn’t have anyone infectious attending. Most of the musical acts were Western Australian, but we have so many talented people here that it wasn’t a problem.
They took a risk that we would have a sudden lockdown as well. Still, here in WA that has only happened once. Our closed borders and quarantine system are working to keep us safe. Even the delayed vaccine rollout really only affects people who need to go overseas for family reasons. The rest of us as making the most of holidaying in our own country.