This new crop of Aussie boutique blowouts swaps out mud, rocket fuel and never-ending toilet queues for top-class line-ups of cocktails, pop-up restaurants and glam accommodation.
Woodford Folk Festival, Moreton Bay Region, QLD
Now in its 33rd year, Woodford has a welcoming and inclusive outlook, buoyed by traditions passed down over the years. The site is home to subtropical rainforest, orchids and butterflies, and it’s an all-ages, all-nationalities affair. Stretching over six days and closing with its renowned New Year’s Day fireworks, the festival stages nearly 440 acts ranging from music and theatre to comedy and debate. Glamping in full-furnished bell tents is available – a great option given rain is common and gumboots are a must.
Golden Plains, Meredith, VIC
During Victoria’s March long weekend, Melbourne’s music fans decamp to Golden Plains. Couches are dragged into the bush setting of the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre, as people enjoy the acts on the single stage. Camping is free-range, campsite parties are common and ecstatic groups gather at Inspiration Point for sunset with their BYO drink of choice. Grab a hotel in nearby Ballarat the night before, to drive in at dawn to claim the best spot.
Splendour In The Grass, North Byron, NSW
Midyear in a lush, natural setting is the three-day affair known simply as “Splendour”. If acts such as Kendrick Lamar and MGMT are not your jam, head to the Global Village for a massage or next-level festival dining (2018 featured a pop-up of Matt Moran’s Sydney restaurant, Chiswick). Comfort-seeking revellers can sleep in a VIP teepee, or book a spot at Flash Camp – a private sanctuary with hot showers, real beds and hair and make-up.
Blenheim Festival, Clare Valley, SA
Each year around Easter, this boutique festival sets up in the vineyards of the Clare Valley. Inside festival grounds, a road called Trumpet Lane links camping to stages and hosts a market with food and chai tea. Green Goat bar is open to the stage so you can watch the acts while chatting to friends. Glamp onsite or stay at nearby Neagles Retreat Villas. For extra grown up fun, couple with a Barossa Valley wine tour. Festival profits go to charity.
Wide Open Space, Ross River Resort, NT
At the mouth of the N’Dhala Gorge in the ancient East MacDonnell Ranges, you’ll find the Wide Open Space Festival. The next one will be held in May 2020 at the rustic Ross River Resort, just over an hour’s drive from Alice Springs. Comforts are covered, with hot showers, cabins and great food. Did we mention the pool party? Numbers hover at 2000, which means small bar queues but big crowds for music described as “one helluva hoedown”. The desert days are hot and the nights are cold, so pack a beanie with your bathers. If you're looking to discover more of the Northern Territory, check out Journey Beyond's Alice Springs and Uluru packages.
Dark Mofo, Hobart, TAS
This week-long feast and nude dawn solstice swim are cultural must-dos on Hobart’s winter agenda. Dark Mofo is a celebration of ritual, art and music, with acts ranging from orchestral to doom, sound art and even witching-hour extravaganzas. Book a Posh Pit ferry ticket to Mona for champagne and canapés, or warm up with a whisky hot toddy at Talisker Dark Bar in Dark Park. Luxe accommodation, such as Mona Pavilions, is available in and near Hobart.
Fairgrounds, Berry, NSW
Set in the idyllic country town of Berry, right before the silly season, is a festival that harks back to the ’70s, with vintage vibes and proper mixed drinks. Contemporary acts such as Vance Joy and Courtney Barnett are staged beside classics along the lines of Billy Bragg and The Breeders. Foodies can enjoy a locally sourced share-plate feast, while glampers can stay at the site’s Pop Up Hotel, with gourmet breakfasts and pool access. A vinyl fair, cinema under the stars and childminding cap things off nicely.