Monday, 11 February 2013

11-18 February 2012 - Boyup Brook Country Music Festival

Having volunteered at the Canberra Country Music Festival in 2011 we thought we'd apply to volunteer at WA's biggest CMF, held each year in a small town a few hours from Perth called Boyup Brook.  Most music festivals around the country go for 2 or more days and as a family can be pretty costly, so volunteering a) saves us money,  b) gets us up close and personal to the artists and c) we just enjoy festival volunteering!  This years WA festival also headlined our favourite country artist, Kasey Chambers, and as we were going to be in that part of Australia, it seemed only logical that that's where we should head!

We arrived in Boyup Brook on a Friday afternoon, expecting there to be lots of visitors around and things happening, instead found a quiet, sleepy little town with very few shops and even fewer people about.  We actually wondered if we were in the right town!
We made ourselves known at the Music Festival shop who sent us to the Community Resource Centre to finalise camping.  The young girl there, not long in the job, knew very little about the camping arrangements, but she finally found our booking so we made our way to the football field where we would be staying for the next week.  We were the second caravan to arrive at the football field but within a day a few dozen vans arrived.

Football field 24 hours later!
Football field before vans stated arriving.

Our volunteering duties were about 10km away at the Harvey Dickson Country Music Centre where we had to clean approximately 300 plastic chairs (oddly enough, this was the same task we had at the Canberra CMF!)  Harvey Dickson's country music centre needs to be seen to be believed.  We were working in a large tin shed that houses all sorts of old items/memorabilia/antiques hanging from the ceiling – vacuum cleaners, wagons, canoes, T chests, old records, mix masters, you name it, it was probably there!  Many items were very heavy (the old 1940's vacuum cleaners were hanging directly above our work area) and would injure if not kill you if something fell.  Harvey also has a passion for Elvis memorabilia. I did take a few photos of the ceiling, but as it was dim lighting, they don't do it justice.  The whole place was eccentric and eclectic in the extreme!

The floor of the shed was dirt, so cleaning the chairs was messy.  What a job!  I have no idea what the temperature was in there, but we all sweated buckets and drank a massive amount of water.  Harvey and his wife Rose were very hospitable and we enjoyed a cold drink with them afterwards.  They couldn't quite understand what this family from Queensland was doing there!

We returned for more cleaning the following afternoon and then again to put the chairs out for the Friday morning country show and on the actual day to serve breakfast.  The good thing about this work task is that it was completed before the main festival got underway, so we would get to see the entire show.  While helping to serve breakfast on our final morning at Harvey Dickson, we also got to see the country music show held at Harvey’s.  The show was excellent,  the big shed very atmospheric and the perfect country music venue and we saw a great band, Bob Corbett and the Roo Grass Band.  They had the place pumping, and all at 9am!
Kate cooling off during our volunteering

Yet another pile of chairs to be wiped down. There were hundreds!

The Boyup Brook Music Park, set in a bushland park with plenty of mature gum trees, was the location of the main festival.  We basically set ourselves up each day and sat back and enjoyed the music and the environment.  It was a great setting.  We had two very hot days and froze on the third day and had some rain.  Saturday morning also had markets and a street parade in the main street of Boyup Brook and we saw a fantastic Perth band Spoonful of Sugar (now knows as China Doll due to an issue with Mary Poppins!) perform a second time.  

Kasey Chambers was the main act together with Adam Harvey who was very good and cracked a lot of irreverent jokes at members of the Australian country music industry.  We saw Carter & Carter perform again after first being introduced to their music at the Canberra CMF in 2011.

With Kasey Chambers

With Adam Harvey

With Amber Lawrence

With Merelyn and David Carter

Elizabeth at work in the merchandise tent
We were very impressed with Elizabeth who volunteered to work another two full days in the merchandising tent during the main part of the festival.  She has a great work ethic. Her supervisor later told us she was initially annoyed she was allocated an 11 year old to work in merchandising, but later acknowledged Elizabeth was one of the best workers she had in the team.  What great feedback.

Like most country music festivals, a number of different workshops were organised and we all went to a boot scootin' (aka line dancing) workshop on the Saturday morning.   Larry and I lasted one routine, our brains simply couldn’t get the necessary messages to the feet fast enough.  It's so much harder than it looks.  Kate however seemed to have a natural aptitude for it and later at the music park got up on the dance floor and danced by herself in front of a couple of hundred people.
Kate happy to amuse herself in front of a few hundred people!

At the end of the festival there was a volunteer b-b-q, where Carter & Carter, Bill Chambers and some members of the Bob Corbett blue grass band we enjoyed stayed and mingled with the volunteers.  The girls had a good chat with Bill Chambers who told them that Kasey and her brother also did distance ed in primary school.  Just to repeat, an 9 and 11 year old chatting with Bill Chambers about Kasey.  I bet that wouldn't happen at Tamworth or the Gympie Music Muster!

So, all in all, it was a great festival and more so for such a small town with an even smaller group of dedicated organisers.  If we were WA residents, we'd be annual visitors/volunteers! 

Larry chilling out during the festival.

We were able to stay an extra day at our camping spot to catch up on school work before driving to Gnowangerup for a lovely overnight visit with Robyn and Bart Cummings who have relocated from Queensland to WA.  Robyn was the Principal at the school Elizabeth and Kate attended in Warwick.

There's no escaping school work, even when visiting friends!

Robyn and Bart Cummings, Gnowangerup (what a name!), WA.
We are now at the western side of the State again, camped at Salmon Gums, again to catch up on schoolwork and about 15 loads of washing (no kidding) before leaving WA and heading east along the Nullarbor.  In fact the reason we decided to stop in Salmon Gums (population 50) was because we had read reviews that the community campground included a free washing machine.  We have a washing machine in the van, but it's only a 3kg front loader so can't take blankets, curtains, doonas etc.  Well, there was a free washing machine, but it was a twin tub!  The last time I used a twin tub was in my first flat in 1985!  They are so high maintenance, you have to go backwards and forwards constantly checking it, moving washing one piece at a time from the washer to the spin.  More watching it. It was so tedious.  I'll never complain about washing ever again.
So this is my last WA post.  We have loved EVERY day in Western Australia and feel we have done it justice in our 7 months here, but it’s now time to start heading towards the east coast.  The girls are very, very excited as 'east' is also in the direction of family!

Traveller's Tips:  Volunteering at Boyup Brook CMF - if you love country music and want to be part of a great event, volunteering is the way to go!  Just check their website for more info  There is plenty of camping available during the festival and many of the schools and sporting associations open their grounds to accept campers.  Expect to pay around the $30 mark per night with a family.  Harvey Dickson also has camping and the shed is definitely worth a visit. I don't think there is anything like it in Australia!


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