Nookfest 2023

I went to wonderful music event called Nookfest over the weekend. It was my third visit and this blog post won’t do it justice, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Nookfest is described by its creators as a “private family party’ with music and fun activities to raise money for kids with kidney disease.

DD is friends with one of the couples who organize the event – Dave and Lou – which is how we got to experience it’s magic.

It’s held every year on a property around three hours south of Sydney, with the last 100km on dirt road.

The youngest went many moons ago when she was a little tacker with a bob haircut. Now she’s a long, tall streak of blondeness and she thought it would make a great birthday present for her friend to take her along this year.

Ideally, she wanted it to be just the two of them driving down together and camping, but I couldn’t bring myself to approve that plan, so I took Friday off work and went along as chaperone.

Overall, it was bulk fun, but there were challenging bits.

Those challenges started with getting out of Sydney in the Friday afternoon traffic.

The sun was setting as the youngest negotiated the last 20km of country dirt road.

I was terrified by the prospect of trying to find our destination in the dark, but she loved the journey. From the moment we arrived at the Nookfest gates she was excitedly talking about how she couldn’t wait to drive back on them.

The last rays of sunset were glowing in the sky as the kids pitched their tent and I laid out my self-inflating mattress in the back of the car.

Then we trekked to one of the other challenging parts of the adventure: the portaloos.

I have always felt travel would be much more civilized in a Tardis, with my own toilet and shower always on hand.

I’m still not entirely sure where the showers were at Nookfest, but my bladder decided it wanted to spend every second minute of the weekend in the portaloo … aside from several times in the middle of each night when I couldn’t be bothered with the five-minute trek and resorted to squatting in the field, which was a bit unnerving in the light of a full moon. Cheers to middle age.

After our ablutions we headed to the shed/stage, lit up with the Nookfest sign.

There was also a striped tent close by, reflecting this year’s circus theme, complete with a ringmaster!

I settled myself on a folding chair and the girls deserted me in search of teen fun.

We watched a young Northern Beaches band called Aloe Vera perform a self-proclaimed “slinky pop” set.

Afterwards a lovely, mohawked bloke called Ant wandered over wanting to know why I was sitting alone. I explained that I didn’t know a soul other than one of the event organizers.

He gave me a big hug and insisted I meet his friends.

It turned out he was the lead singer of a heavy metal band called Anamcara that were performing on the Saturday night. I joined them for a rousing singalong session that was a mix of karaoke with actual musos on guitars and brass.

Later an old bloke with an accordion took to the stage to sing Italian classics as the crowd swayed and cheered.

I retired to my bed in the car as a rock band took to the stage and music thrashed out into the night.

The band was followed by a DJ until 1.30am and I drifted in and out of sleep to the soundtrack.

When the music ended a cacophony of snoring replace it throughout the campsite.

After the kids woke the next morning I wandered up to the shed in search of a barbecue to cook bacon and egg rolls and discovered a stall handing out free ones!

There were so many smiles and good mornings and chitter chat sessions on my way there and back. Such a friendly bunch of people.

At noon a joyous colour run was held in the field, filled with laughter and dogs dodging through the crowd living their best lives.

It was followed by an inflatable race, greasy pole competition and dance party beside the river, with complimentary sausages on sticks and ciders.

I sat in a folding chair, reading my first book in forever and enjoying the view, lack of mobile reception and the music.

Check out this lot filling the air with an exuberant version of “I am woman”.

When ‘Jack and Diane’ started to play I couldn’t help singing along and felt a bit emotional remembering how much I once related to the words “oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone” and how lucky I feel that the thrill has returned.

In the late afternoon I took a dip in the river and borrowed a blow up pineapple ring to float around on under the strict supervision of the youngest who gets nervy about my lack of swimming ability.

At 6.30pm my new mate Ant took to the stage for a thrash, which is a tricky thing to do in broad daylight, but he gave it his best, exuberant shot.

Anamcara were followed by a young up-and-comer called Taj Ralf, who apparently has a record deal and is an extremely talented kid. I predict he’ll be hitting the big time soon.

The next band, Lace, were forced to cancel due to a flat tyre. Next up was a rousing cover band called the Red Hill Band, who specialise in 80s and 90s music. I was delighted by their renditions of Fleetwood Mac, Baby Animals and Boom Crash Opera classics.

The youngest and her friend had an absolute ball in the mini mosh pit. I left them to it and tottered off back to my car bed.

After another freebie bacon and egg roll in the morning we hit the road back to Sydney, thrilled by our adventure, covered in dust and totally knackered.

The girls are already talking about making a return visit to Nookfest 2024 … sans chaperone.

Song of the day: Fleetwood Mac “The Chain”

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