The Falls Festival 2015 (Mt Duneed Estate, Victoria)
Words: Jodie DS | Photography: Ryland Pearson McManus

When bad things happen in life you can cry, scream and give up hope, or you can embrace the change and make the best of the situation! That is exactly what the iconic Falls Festival did when the devastating fires nearby Lorne forced them to relocate. I am not going to lie; I do not camp! I did however survive to tell the tale. What I experienced was thousands of music loving, laid back people all there to start the New Year at one of Australia’s oldest and most respected events!

Within 48 hours of informing festival goers the event was moving to Mt Duneed estate (the home of a Day on the Green) they not only managed to lay down the stages, lighting and sound equipment but they also raised over $100,000 for the Red Cross bush fire relief. They released additional tickets with 100% of proceeds going to the appeal. It is not surprising they sold out so quickly with the previous tickets selling out months in advance. The community spirit from Falls didn’t finish there however, every year they donate $1 from every ticket to put towards local community projects. They also run the event with sustainability in mind, encouraging safe disposable of rubbish.

Having never been to the Lorne estate I really cannot compare the two sites. I spoke to a few Falls veterans and they said it was just “simply different”. The Mt Duneed estate was beautiful and located not far from the surf coast off the Great Ocean road (15 minutes from Geelong and 1 hour from Melbourne). The site was full of picturesque vineyards and a sunset I will never forget.

Given there only being 2 days to completely relocate the festival there were of a course a few hiccups day 1, but they pulled it together remarkably! Thousands flocked to the site to set up camp for 4 days of music and arts. I arrived early on the 28th and as the day went on more and more people started to arrive. Some came by the shuttle bus from Geelong with their tents and others driving up in vans kitted with everything they needed for what was about to be some of the best days of their lives. I made sure I set up nice and close to the toilets and showers to minimise my chances of walking into a spider web in the middle of the night with the risk of actually wetting myself with pure fear; I told you I don’t camp haha!

Walking around the site already people were getting into the spirit, dancing to their own music on their cars, some with their own mascots. I am sure I met a giant inflatable duck at one point however that may have been the sun doing the talking; it was roasting. I had already set my eyes on Rancho Relaxo which was there to help “recharge your body and soul”. On offer they had cacao ceremonies, raw vibrant health and many other cool activities. I came across the Vanessa bus which was offering cool prizes, a photo booth and free breath testing which was great as we had planned to pop out early a few days to check out the nearby coast line.

We all have agenda when going to a festival and having already planned my itinerary using the great planner tool on the mobile phone app my next step was to see what food I could indulge in. There was so much on offer; I am vegan so I was so excited to see many options for me so I didn’t have to eat the same thing for 4 days straight. For breakfast I couldn’t go past the amazing coconut quinoa and the boys at the Hare Krishna stand won me over with their kofta!

What I loved about this festival was the anything goes attitude with an almost “hippy vibe”. From baggy hemp pants, fluorescent stockings, floppy hats and platforms, it really didn’t matter what you was wearing, as long as it was a smile! On day one many got around the fancy dress theme “Tinseltown”. In true Jodie spirit I of course thought I was meant to wrap myself in tinsel and thought to myself how easy it was as I could just pinch some from the Christmas tree. I was very wrong haha, Tinseltown is of course Hollywood and many rocked super cool outfits while I stood there in my tinsel :P. Those that missed the memo were however able to pick up items from many of the stalls selling items or those really keen headed over to Eye Am Hair for a glitter beard or some crazy hair colour.

With so many artists and shows on offer I did my best to see them all. The music ranged from hip hop to folk, electronic pop and rock and roll which kicked off everyday around noon until well after midnight.

My highlights were:

Aussie rock star and winner of Triple J album of the year Courtney Barnett played to extreme sun and still managed to pull a crowd showing us all how to “carve a carrot into a rose”. Her guitar must have been slipping from her hands!

The 5 band members from the UK, Foals took us into the New Year with a jaw dropping show playing to over 18,000 dancing bodies.

US singer Halsey who claims to be “brutally honest and winging it” told social media fans that “it was the coolest show ever” and I agree.

I was pleased to see Jump to This label owner HEY SAM on the line up to drop some bass heavy house! I was a little worried at first as he was playing the same time as Disclosure but within 10 minutes of him pressing play the Grand Theatre was absolutely packed.  

I did briefly get the opportunity to check out Disclosure who played a live set; it was really cool to see them making tunes I had heard on the radio live right before my eyes; it was impressive to say the least.

Gary Clark Jr has been flagged as “the king of summer festivals” by Rolling Stone. With a title like that I was eager to see what the alternative blues singer from Texas had in store! His performance was captivating from start to finish.

I had to show some love to Perth born Birds of Tokyo. This is a name that almost goes hand in hand with Australia. It was however my first opportunity to see the rock band live and I loved every minute of it.

Gang of Youths who claim to be “dad rock” had all of the festival running when it was time for them to play. Within minutes of them starting there were thousands of hands in the air with smiles from ear to ear; the atmosphere was incredible. 

Hilltop Hoods have been a name I have grown up with being a fellow South Aussie. I remember seeing them play at small gigs around Adelaide through my teens (showing my age now). It was great to hear some of my old and new favourite Australian Hip Hop tunes. Suffa, Pressure and Debris you killed it!

The Ranch Relaxo area at night transformed into an enlightening dance experience with a silent disco. It was so much fun even just to watch.

The daytime lounge sessions were such a buzzing vibe with everyone singing along, clapping their hands with the artist telling a story through their music. Artists included Essie Thomas, Paul Hunt, Alice Night and Mapstone.

Randy (everyone’s favourite purple felt faced comedian) had me on the edge of my seat in the Village laughing.

I honestly could go on and on, that isn’t even half of the amazing acts I saw over the 4 days. Falls really is so much more than just the music though. The early birds could start the day with a yoga or meditation session followed by crazy craft making of fascinators, earrings, dream catches, pom pom pets, crystal necklaces and crochet water bottle holders. You could indulge in a massage, tarot reading or a reiki session; the list just goes on.

It was 4 days of fun, making new friends and learning about the meaning of life! Falls has so much to offer and is really something you need to experience at least once in your life time. I suggest if you do plan on making your way to the next Falls Festival that you keep an eye on the ticket ballot to avoid disappointment. For those of you still with the energy there are a bunch of side shows happening around Melbourne and Sydney.