A most Merry death

For Victorians, Meredith Music Festival is an institution.

Actually, it’s more than that. It’s a right of passage, an initiation ceremony and an annual pilgrimage all rolled in to one.

Held each December near the town of Meredith in country Victoria, the event is a music and arts festival that has been running since 1991. A time when (as the festival’s website mentions) the world wide web was just a twinkle in a scientist’s eye, Nirvana released Nevermind and the $2 note was still in circulation.

Unlike many modern festivals, there is only one stage, the Meredith Supernatural Ampitheatre. All the musicians perform there, but there are many other regular events, landmarks and rituals which set this gathering apart from almost all its modern counterparts.

This is an event ‘that’s been handmade by humans, for humans’. A quote from its virtual commander in chief, Aunty Meredith, who also presides over sister event the Golden Plains Festival, which has been running every March for almost a decade.

One thing I love about living in Melbourne is its vibrant and varied live music and arts scene. In many ways Meredith is a celebration of and for the people who make up this community and, in terms of line-up, it certainly caters to more alternative and educated tastes.

In 2013 the headliners include psychedelic rockers Brian Jonestown Massacre, Chic featuring notorious producer and disco geniusĀ Nile Rodgers, New York DJ and Beats In Space host Tim Sweeney, London-based producer Jon Hopkins, old school Aussie rockers Spiderbait and, of course, the City Of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band.

Musically, there’s generally something for everyone, and there’s as much going on elsewhere as there is around the Ampitheatre.

Those who have been making annual visits (sometimes for decades) host raucous themed parties at their regular campsites and there are ample places to just chill out and have a drink in what is a stunning natural setting (as long as the area isn’t in drought).

The Meredith Gift is something to behold, a nude run (for ladies and gents) which wends its way through the ampitheatre on the festival’s final day.

If you lose your pals, you can always meet at famous landmarks like The Red Tree or the Arch Of Love, but I found the atmosphere so welcoming and non-judgemental that it didn’t really matter if you missed a rendezvous.

Perhaps this is due to the No Dickhead Policy.

There are some wonderful snippets on the website which go some way to explaining what the festival means to regulars.

Countless first sexual experiences, couples who have named their child after the event, even someone who admits to every year taking enough underwear for three days, but always leaving in the same pair he arrived in.

In short, it was a pleasure to attend, and I strongly suggest shelling out for a ticket if you happen to be in that part of the world come December.

It’s three days of wonderful silliness that can be an arduous journey, but always ends too quickly.

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