The Ultimate Summer Festival Road Trip
Big Day Out : Alexis Krauss Sleigh Bells. Image by Maclay Heriot
Woodford Folk Festival : Julia Stone on stage. Image Martin Olman
Sydney Festival : Soul Review. Image by Prudence Upton
Sydney Festival : Semele Walk. Image by Prudence Upton
Lately I’ve been thinking about my dream bucket list – what I would do if time and money were no object – and have been quietly putting together a list just in case I become instantly independently wealthy. And right at the top of that list is to do the ultimate festival road trip, to spend a year travelling around Australia visiting as many music festivals as I could.
And then I got to thinking that it might be a possibility even without a fortuitous lotto win. With enough careful planning, money saving and leave time from work, picking a time of year like Summer when the festivals come thick and fast and choosing a route that would take in the best of the best, it just might be possible, if only for a month.
Due to weather and a wealth of events, I picked December through January, bought a map of the East Coast and started to plot a route based on the music festival trail. Here’s what I came up with:
Gulgong Folk Festival
Where: Gulgong, NSW
When: 28th to 31st Dec
About: Historic Gulgong feels as though it’s straight out of the 1900s with its wide country streets and ornate shop fronts. The festival features some of the country’s best up and coming talent in an atmosphere that feels local and intimate.
While You’re There: The Mudgee wine region is right on your doorstep.
Where to Stay: Options are limited in Gulgong, especially when the festival is in town. Drive the 20 mins to Mudgee and book into the De Ruisse Suites. You won’t regret it.
Woodford Folk Festival
Where: Woodfordia, QLD
When: 27th Dec to 1st Jan
About: Probably the biggest folk festival in the country, Woodford will help you see in the New Year in the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland while listening to some of the best folk, acoustic, rock and pop music from around the world.
While You’re There: Why not explore the stunning Glasshouse Mountains or head to the famous Eumundi markets.
Where to Stay: Woodfordia is just outside of Woodford in Queensland and in the summer rains the festival is nicknamed “Mudford” by regulars. You can camp on site but a better bet is to head to the coast. The BreakFree Alexandra Beach is just up the road from Mooloolaba’s busy main beach but a world away from the bustle. Mooloolaba is a popular summer spot with Expedia’s travellers.
Where: Sydney, NSW
About: Taking over Sydney for the whole of January, the Sydney Festival incorporates music, dance, art and more. There’s something to please everyone. Definitely worth a stopover on your road trip.
While You’re There: Chill out on the beach for the day – you’ve earned it.
Where to Stay: You’re in the big city – why not treat yourself to the luxury of the Hilton Sydney. It’s a prime spot after the many events held in Hyde Park.
Illawarra Folk Festival
Where: Bulli, NSW
When: 16th to 19th Jan
About: Australia’s best small folk festival in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. You’ll never want to leave.
While You’re There: Go for a drive up the coastal road to the Royal National Park. A stunning drive with a stunning destination.
Where to Stay: Get the most of the beach and the festival by staying at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach. It’s not right in Bulli but with the beach on your doorstep, you won’t mind the commute.
Big Day Out
Where: Flemington Showground, Melbourne, VIC
When: Jan tbc
About: At the Melbourne leg of Australia’s biggest rock festival, you’re always guaranteed of an amazing lineup.
While You’re There: Go shopping – that’s what Melbourne’s for right?
Where to Stay: Fraser Place Melbourne is in the heart of the CBD, on a laneway right between Little Lonsdale St and LaTrobe St, perfect for post-festival fun.
Newstead Live Festival
Where: Newstead, VIC
When: 24th to 27th Jan
About: Finish your road trip the way you started, at a small local festival in an historic town. Given its proximity to Melbourne, there’s always some well known acts on the bill plus locals just waiting to be discovered.
While You’re There: Make the most of the local mineral springs and day spas.
Where to Stay: Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat between Daylesford and Castlemaine is the ideal place to relax after a long day watching music.