‘High on life’ – Falls Festival, Marion Bay

The Spirit of Tasmania pulled up at 5.50am. I had a few hours wait before I met Hayden who was going to drive me from North Tasmania, Devonport, to Hobart. The trip normally takes 3.5 hours but being a friendly Tasmanian local he was happy to detour to drive the coast to show me this beautiful land.

It felt a lot more like England, lush and green, hilly with grazing sheep. Fresh produce was being grown in the fields, a state spoiled for its food. The first sight of the coast was stunning. The water was so blue contrasting white sands and green forrestation. We pulled over at Spiky Bay to dip our toes in the water. It was cold ocean!

We followed the road over break-me-neck hill and bust-me-gall valley and into Hobart which sits in the shadow of Mt Wellington overlooking the water. The bridge is uneven, steeper on one side than the other, damaged by a freight ship in the 80’s.

Hayden dropped me for the shuttle to Falls Festival. With half an hour to spare I met an English girl, Helen and abandoned my life possessions with her to ran to Woolworths for festival food, then we were on our way, standing on the packed shuttle all the way to Marion Bay.

The festival site was again stunning, fields overlooking a sparkling bay and empty as it was the day before the public arrived. As volunteers we were assigned our teams- I would be on green team, a glamorous description of litter picking. Once the tents were up and the grounds explored we had a welcome BBQ, a chance for us to meet our teams and get chatting to fellow volunteers.

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In camp that night a singalong occurred, a group of three with guitars and harmonica attracted a congregating crowd for renditions of well known songs. A relaxed night in anticipation of a good few days.

Day 465

In the morning festival goers started arriving and the grounds began filling up. A group of us headed for the beach to enjoy the sunshine. The other side of the sanddunes were a whole load more windy and it wasn’t as relaxing as we had envisaged. The water was freezing but we all took the plunge, groups of people in the water whilst the lifeguard stood shaking his head. The current was strong and the waves powerful, an invigorating experience.

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We traipsed back to the main stage where moody clouds were appearing in the sky. A calm, quiet announcement came over the mainstage speakers, ‘we are expecting a hail storm with 110km hour winds heading this way. It might be a good idea to take down your tents.’ The casual nature of this announcement cannot be overstated and we all hurried back to the camp to flatten our temporary homes.

The first night of the festival was Boogie nights, lots of dance music on the smaller stage. There was a twerking workshop, a hip hop history lesson and finally Salt n’ Pepa, responsible for the ‘ah push it, p-push it real good…’ It was a funny night of making friends with other crowd members, broken flip flops and ending in 10 minute dance parties in a shipping container.

Day 476

My first volunteer shift started at 10am. Equipped with bin bags and gloves we were let loose in the main arena to litter pick. The main arena was already spotlessly clean, unlike UK festivals, the number of green team staff meant that we were fighting over empty containers as people finished eating out of them! We were right there as the days music started, a relaxed atmosphere in the field.

Milky chance played early afternoon, a great act. After the shift finished we did a quick change from our bright orange shirt to watch Vance joy. The evenings bands were Alt J and Tempah Trap.

Day 478 – New Years Eve

Our second shift to complete our 12 hours, started at 7am. This time the nights rubbish hadn’t been cleared up and at 9am workers came out en masse. We walked across the field everyone clearing their one metre stretch of rubbish and cans, pocketing lost coins and beer tokens for later.

As the shift finished, Frida and I went to the Village, the arena of comedy and acts of pure randomness. We watched a variety show which consisted of Biscuit readings, an old woman telling people which biscuit they most resemble, followed by a 15 year old boy dressed as a girl signing Gloria Gaynor who was kidnapped half way through his performance, we assumed as part of the set. We painted our nails then watched a risqué circus set.

In the evening we were near front row for George Ezra, maybe my favourite set of the whole festival. After the show we rushed down to main stage to have our photo taken with him, Frida his new biggest fan. For the rest of the night we harassed Paolo who was working on the nearby bar and supplying us drinks for the following acts where we watched John Butler, La Roux and her amazing band.

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Empire of the Sun played in the new year, the set was electric and the post countdown dancing was amazing. We partied on in the Village, occasionally napping in a pile on the discarded sofas, witnessing running races and scoffing Rotis until the sun began to light the sky at 5am when we called it a night.

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Day 479

No one was early from the tent despite the days heat. With festival goers gone the site was a mess and each staff member had to collect a bag of rubbish to get their ticket to their staff party. In the camp ground it didn’t take long, many people were down their scavenging abandoned tents and camping gear, cans of food. We found some random things, namely a VHS of Pocohuntus and some disgusting unmentionables.

The staff party made the volunteering all worth it, a chance to eat and drink anything left on site. A buggy came round at 6pm chucking beers into the queue as we lined up for a buffet of deliciousness. The alcohol was flowing and we decorated ourselves in luminous paint. Performers from the circus and some bands started the night off and then the partying continued into the night. A great way to say goodbye to new friends.

Next stop Hobart!

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