Dust. Glitter. Sweltering heat. Delicious food. Live bands. Ice. Yoga. 1am harp looped over heady electronic beats in a circus tent.
These were some of the strongest themes emerging from the Lost Paradise Festival, which took place in Glenworth Valley from 28 December 2016 right through until New Year’s Day. It’s here to be precise (about an hour north of Sydney):
On this occasion, I was working as manager of the Artist Bar, and was able to enjoy an hour or so of the festival around my 12pm-12am shifts.
I had not attended a festival as an employee before, and seeing what goes on beyond the fences and security guards was fascinating and in many ways overwhelming. These people work extremely hard to make a festival what it is. From shipping huge quantities of beverages and ice around the showgrounds to ensuring electronic payment systems are functioning to resolving even the most minor complaints of patrons (“my wristband is too tight, can I please get another one”) – it’s an intense, flat out job for 4 days.
And if behind the scenes wasn’t busy enough, there was plenty to do at the festival. Away from the bustle of the festival core was Shambhalah Fields, which hosted a range of arts, crafts and performance pieces, as well as yoga sessions and clairvoyance readings. Closer to the centre of the action, the central circus tent, The Cabinet, was home to a myriad of odd and wonderful spectacles, from risqué dudes pole dancing through to the aforementioned atmospheric morning trance harp.
Surrounding The Cabinet were a dozen or so food trucks featuring some of the favourites (Agape Organic, Nighthawk Diner, Tsuru, Chips On A Stick, The Dosa Deli, Monster Rolls) as well as some new ones (Meet Food Truck). The food was truly spectacular and between fresh lemon lime bitters, 6 hr slow cooked beef ribs, breakfast dosas and mango lassis, Eat Art Truck’s American BBQ Street Food took things next level with this delicious katsu burger:
But Meet Food Truck’s beef ribs were the real winner of the festival – Fred Flintstone would have blushed:
If all the food and heat was giving you the sweats, getting cool was never too difficult as a stream (dirty as it may have been) ran through the campsite. It wasn’t long before the unofficially named “nudey beach” (portion of the stream bank on which people stripped off naked and jumped in the water) was brimming with punters looking to wash away the warmth of the midday sun. I managed to get a shot of it prior to the nudity (it might have been a bit creepy to snap shots while it was in action…).
If you’re at a festival though, you’re probably there for the music. There was no shortage, with DJ acts, international groups and huge Aussie artists on display. DJ sets from Hot Chip, Eats Everything, and Luke Million (who recently remixed the Stranger Things theme with tremendous success) set the Lost Disco stage off, while Big Scary, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Montaigne, Mosquito Coast, Methyl Ethel, BAD//DREEMS and Harts tore up the main Arcadia stage. Some of the more up and coming young Aussie groups like Betty & Oswald and Planet were also on display and pulled decent crowds despite their earlier set times. Here’s some Sex On Toast:
But it was Gang Of Youths that I enjoyed the most, and it was awesome seeing how this band has matured and transformed since I last saw them at Secret Garden in February 2015, to have developed an almost Springsteen-y energy on stage.
Even festival attendees were getting their Burning Man on, with a roving bicycle band (complete with keys, mic and drums) rolling through the camp area and around the fields, bringing you bangers like Smash Mouth’s “All Star”:
My New Years night saw me behind the bar at the exclusive VIP top dog super rich kaching bling Lost Feast party, which was basically serving free drinks to the festival owners and their friends for 3 hours (naturally it got rowdy but was a fun way to see out 2016):
Lost Paradise sits somewhere between Secret Garden for its whimsy and smaller size, and Splendour for its bold efforts on music and food. Glenworth Valley provides a beautiful backdrop for the New Year and despite the insane heat and hot wind, there’s something to be said for the freedom and good spirit present at a festival like this. A great experience, and if you’re into your festivals, this is one not to miss for 2017-2018!