Is Australia's festival scene the best it's ever been?
A slew of small festivals are keeping the country's scene firing
“Initially, the motivation was just to have a wild party in the bush for our friends,” Benney says. “Today, the vision is more about creating an experience that inspires people for years to come.”
Embracing the natural bush landscape, with the welcome additions of Funktion One sound and quality house and techno, has increasingly made the untamed areas outside small Australian towns the hubs of dance music across summer.
Long-running “bush doofs”, the term given to alternative festivals in Australia held off the beaten track, including Strawberry Fields, Rainbow Serpent and Earthcore, are a few hours drive from Melbourne and have boomed in recent years.
Further north, the lush green surroundings outside Sydney and Byron Bay are home to Subsonic, Rabbits Eat Lettuce and newcomer Lost Paradise, which was started by long-time industry players Wade Cawood and Simon Beckingham in 2014.
“Over the last few years we have seen the word ‘boutique’ popping up on every small festival. We aim to be ‘boutique’ in the truest of forms and, most importantly, ‘experience, experience, experience’,” Cawood says.
“I’ve always been passionate about the curation of the line-up, but now that line-up has extended to yoga, live, food, performances, kids etc. We want people to be entertained and engaged."
Big names including Jamie xx, Four Tet, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Âme were among the DJs that played the three-day New Year’s camping festival's most recent incarnation, and the line-up for its 2016/17 edition will be announced soon.