November 16th 2018 marked the tenth anniversary of one of Australia’s most adored music festivals, Strawberry Fields. To celebrate their first full decade the organisers at Strawberry produced a perfectly curated escape hidden deep in the Bush.
Strawberry Fields started out as nothing more than a make shift rave bang in the middle of Melbourne and Sydney. Over the years the festivals popularity has exploded, and it’s not hard to see why. Remaining true to their bush doof origins, whilst also evolving to match the growth in popularity is no easy task. Yet, somehow the organisers at Strawberry Fields have managed to keep the vibe pure, the music cool and have even nailed the new location required for the growing numbers. The site is on the banks of the majestic (and cold) Murray River, which splits the states of Victoria and New South Wales. It is also the perfect spot to take a dip, cool off, and clean some of the dust acquired from hours of dancing.
The event is now looked upon as a marker for the start of the festival season on the East Coast, spreading across four days in the final breaths of spring, with everyone gearing with the fresh excitement of taking winters shackles off, and unleashing their summer alter ego’s for the first time in what feels like a life time.
The site is riddled with ancient river red gum trees, endless dusty fields, and breath taking stars shining down from above the minute night hits. All of this provides the perfect backdrop for a weekend of house, techno, disco, phyc-rock, and much more.
Musically, the line up is diverse and has a little something for everyone. Techno fans were treated to Detroit don Carl Craig who served up a classic headline set as the sun still beat down on the thousands of revelers tucked in under the main stage. With water trickling down their faces from the sprinklers overhead, mini rainbows popping up everywhere the eye can see, the vibe was pure happiness. The main stage is an incredible pink shade structure, ascetically pleasing, spacious and filled the brim every night with inventive Doof Sticks.
Craig was supported by fellow American Honey Dijon, who I’m sure he thanked after the show for warming the crowd up in such a phenomenal way. Dijon couldn’t hide her surprise at the crowd’s energy, at one point asking, “Are ya’ll feeling ok? Being a girl from Chicaco, I don’t know how ya’ll are still going in this heat, but you are!” To answer Miss Dijon’s question; your infectious mix of disco and techno is what was keeping the crowd going despite the sweltering temperatures.
With lighting being such a key part to any festival experience, it was important that the guys over at Strawberry HQ got it right, and they did not disappoint. The glow coming from the enchanted forest at night blends in seamlessly with the stars above, creating a truly enchanted feeling around the place once nighttime descends upon Tocumwal.
The ‘Beach Stage’ as the people on the ground referred to it through out the festival was another stand out aspect of the weekend. Located right next to the main swimming spot, you’ll find a stage bouncing with life and revitalized swimmers itching to get their boogie on again. With its elevated platforms all round, it was never short of people climbing to get higher up. Once up there you can catch the views of the hundreds of dancers, the Murray River and whatever lies beyond.
Amaru Tribe closed the beach stage in wonderful fashion on Saturday night, leaving everyone dead their feet and wondering what happens once we have to leave this wonderland that is Strawberry Fields.
Something felt like the organisers really just hit everything right for their tenth year. From the special bus that treated revelers to a lie down and ten-minute light display, often enjoyed in complete silence and awe. To the central village that was full of tasty food trucks, trendy thrift shops and well-shaded areas for people to chill eat and get ready for more dancing! I’m not quite sure what, if anything, Strawberry Fields can do to top this wonderful ten-year anniversary but I am sure as hell looking forward to seeing them try.
By paraic Walker