On a whim we decided to join our friends at the Gumball Festival in the hunter valley. This is a small relaxed family friendly festival held on a private property called Dashville, near Singleton.
We hightailed it up the highway out from Sydney without much issue, but as we approached the site we could see ominous dark clouds on the horixzon heading our way. Each minute in the que ramped up the anxiety as the clouds grew closer, bigger and darker.
Once inside it seemed everyone had arrived before us and we were scratching to find a place, not helped by the fact everyone camped on the outside of the trees near the tracks and left big open spaces in the middle We pushed our way in to a spot just as the rain crashed down. Our first setup in the rain! It was so heavy we had rivers running through the camp and we were soaked. The kids sitting in the car thought it was hilarious.
As we finished the set up the rain stopped…. Typical, but it was still a laugh, and we are getting the set up down pat. Tent and Annex only taking about 15 minutes. As we were only staying two nights, the boys had agreed to sleep in the camper with us, which made life very easy. Amusingly one of them actually wanted to sleep in the tub, so with the tailgate down we put a sleeping bag and pillows next to the rear drawers and crated a little cave that was one kids body wide.
We ended up camping about 5mins walk from the festival site and as soon as we were set up we went to have a wander., with the occasional shower still adding a different dimension to the proceedings. The main site is a bowl around the stage and you are never far from the action. The main set wound down with Dan Sultan followed by …. And finally died around 12ish.
Day two and the weather had improved. The music started early but was all acoustic, letting those who had partied in the silent disco which runs until 3am. They play two different channels on the headsets so its hilarious watching some of the room dancing to Elvis and half to the Prodigy, all in absolute silence.
We met up with some friends, picked a spot and didn’t really move for the whole day. There’s plenty to do throughout the day and our kids loved circus skills area. Even dad got on the stilts.
The music in the afternoon was quite relaxed until The Dashville Progress Society ( a loose collection of local sometimes players) picked up the vibe as evening came, and were surprisingly very good with their selection of covers.
Bullhorn were a surprise find mixing big brassy instruments and hip hop vocals, so good that I even managed to bring out the old dance moves for a daddy bop at the rear of the crowd.
A leisurely pack up the next day was followed by a leisurely drive back to Sydney interrupted only by a slight stop to rescue a turtle that had stopped on the road and our kids first experience of a festival was over. They had their minds blown a little bit but have already asked to come back next year. We’d recommend it anyone who wants some good music in a hassle free atmosphere.
This is the campground after 2000 people left and as the cleaning crew went in.. Just shows what is possible when you put your mind to it. If only all campers were like this. And just shows how nice the people who attend are.
Check out a short video of the weekend by Ty Rickard