Splendour in the Grass

We’ve finished 6 weeks of our interesting experience of working in the teeny tiny town of Dingo, in Central Queensland, Australia at a Roadhouse/Truckstop/Petrol Garage/Servo. As a reward for reaching the half way mark, Hayley and I took ourselves off to Splendour in the Grass for a week of magical music festival twirling, floating, tambourine jangling, sunshine, happiness, and an overload of musical sensations.

This is by far the biggest festival that I have been to (Hayley has been to Glastonbury, so this little festival of 30000 people seemed like a boutique festival to her), but to me, it was the perfect size. The venue is just 30 minutes away from the squeaky sandy beach and the magical town of Byron Bay. At the festival, the main stage is in a huge natural Amphitheatre where people can be at the base of the hilly, in the main dance floor area right up near the stage, or casually dotted along the slopes sitting comfortably watching the splendor from afar. It is the best stage set up that I have ever seen and I wish every music festival could have something as amazing. Picture Kirstenbosch gardens amphitheater, but with a slightly steeper gradient, a large dance floor at the base, and the slopes wrapping around the stage absorbing the music. I was blown away by it. The sound is great and once you are back in the main festival area, you wouldn’t even know that there is a huge amphitheater just over the hill. There were 4 main music stages at Splendour in the Grass, ample food stalls, lots of other things to do and entertain, pop up restaurants set up, full on bars to go hang out at, 2 night clubs, a teepee forest trance floor (of course!), clothing stores, a general store to buy all your necessities and then there was the campsite. The best campsite ever!

Festival Map

Festival Map

Camping at festivals is normally quite a rough and dirty experience, and yes, that’s all part of the fun, but clean toilets and a shower are also pretty appealing. At Splendour, they have eco toilet and shower blocks set up at regular intervals around the huge camping facilities. The toilets are natural composting systems, and the showers were a magical relief from the dust and grub. Everything was clean, the queues were short, and it was all completely eco-friendly. Our tent was at the perfect location, near enough to two different toilet blocks, but also not close enough to be smelly and gross. We were right near one of the many lockerbox facilities where you can rent a box for the weekend to lock away all your valuables (and each locker even had a phone charger in it!), and very close to one of the entrances into the festival area.  So, who needs the fancy glamping facilities, when the normal camping areas were pretty damn well set up!

Most importantly though, we were there for the music, and wow did Splendour pull out all stops. Sadly London Grammar and Two Door Cinema Club both pulled out within the last week building up to the festival, but they were replaced with the Foals and the Presets. No complaints here. Our ears were also graced with the presence of many other musical wonders. This is the order of bands we managed to see, yet we still missed out on so many other great acts.

  • The Acid
  • The Head and the Heart
  • The Kite String Tangle
  • Ball Park Music
  • Interpol: which, to be honest, was the most boring, non crowd engaging set I’ve ever seen, worse than when Kings of Leon played in Cape Town a few years back
  • The 1975: the lead singer was drunk and hilarious, but still sang like a real champ
  • Metronomy: my heart melts for this band
  • The Foals were just incredible.
  • Vance Joy: Quite a boring set, but I guess that’s because most of us only know two of his songs, but when he played those two at the end, and the crowd was singing along, you could see the pure joy in his eyes and that made it perfect.
  • Chvrches: My life is now complete
  • Foster the People
  • Ben Howard

And then, the festival was over, or at least, they tried to end it for us. Hayley and I tried to get round to the other side of the festival to end things off with Nicholas Jaar, who was on at the Red Bull Stage, but because they had started closing off some of the areas of the festival, we were sent round on a back route to that stage, and ended up back in the camping area. We then tried to get back into the festival and were refused entry, even though the festival still had another hour to go before it all shut down. Running, crawling under fences, screaming lots of obscenities at numerous security guards and then eventually slipping past the guards and doing a hundred yard dash through the main entry gates, we finally got back into the main festival area victorious, and headed to the teepee forest to stomp around for a final 30 minutes of freedom and happiness.

3 hours of sleep, packed up our backpack, ditched the tent and a whole lot of stuff inside it, and then it was time to travel back to Dingo. A 30-minute shuttle, a 4-hour bus ride, a 1-hour flight and an hour and a half car ride later (with lots of standing around in between), and we made it back to Dingo.

A magical week of holidays, making many new friends, catching up with lots of old friends at the festival (yes I actually know people who live in Australia and went to the festival, and I managed to find them all among the throngs of people), seeing some amazing musical acts, eating way too much delicious food, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and now, we’re back in this tiny town, population 56 people. 6 more weeks and then we are off on our next journey… to Melbourne.


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