We head out to Whittlesea for some sausages in bread, hot jam donuts and country music.
As I've previously discussed in other blog posts, I'm a big fan of country music, as is Emma. So when the Whittlesea Country Music Festival popped up on Facebook as an event I might be interested in, I clicked the "Going" button and sent it straight off to Emma.
Whittlesea is a country town located in the outer Northern suburbs of Melbourne. Whilst only taking inside an hour to get there, it's surprising how remote and rural it feels once you're out of the housing estates and densely populated suburbs with their postage stamp sized front yards.
Emma had looked ahead to see what the weather was going to be, and after a few weeks of very hot temperatures, we were surprised to see that it was only going to reach a maximum of about 18C. The event was starting at 4pm and finishing at 10pm which meant it would only get colder as the day wore on. So we broke our warm coats and Blundstone boots out of storage and loaded them into the back of the car, along with our $5 chairs from Bunnings.
We put our country music playlists from Spotify on in the car and headed off into the outskirts of Melbourne. Emma was particularly looking forward to seeing Troy Cassar-Daley performing and since he was the headliner, he wasn't due to go on until about 8.30pm.
Emma wanted to be there for the whole thing, so we ended up arriving at about 4.30pm and as we drove into Whittlesea and turned down the street that led to the local football oval where the event was taking place, we looked at each other. There were barely any cars in the parking area we found and the oval was 80% empty. This was not looking promising.
Wondering just what the hell we'd gotten ourselves into, we rugged up, grabbed our chairs and headed over. Once we actually got onto the oval we realised that there were more people than we first thought. We got a pretty good spot and set up our chairs before heading off for a wander to see what was there. Unfortunately there were only about 4 or 5 food trucks, although one of them was luckily selling hot jam donuts (a particular favourite of mine). For $7 I bought a bag of 6 large donuts, bargain. Then Emma spotted the bar, and that's where we headed next!
The lineup for the event was actually pretty impressive, with the headliner being none other than Troy Cassar-Daley. He's been around the Australian music scene for a very long time and he's well known, especially for country music fans. He wasn't on until later though, and up first we had a couple of acts Emma and I were unfamiliar with. Here's how the lineup for the evening went:
Paul Costa 4pm Kaitlin Thomas 5:10pm Jetty Road 5:30pm Speeches 6:40pm (moment of silence) Tania Kernaghan 7pm Flaxxon 8pm Troy Cassar-Daley (Part 1) 8:30 PM Fireworks 9pm Troy Cassar-Daley (Part 2) 9:15 pm until Close
Emma and I didn't realise until we arrived, but the event paid tribute to those affected by the Black Saturday Bushfires, and a moment of silence was held to remember that horrific day and the absolute devastation those fires caused.
For those of you who aren't aware, on 7th February 2009, Victoria experienced the worst bushfires in Australian history after a record breaking heatwave. Over 400 fires burned across the state and the catastrophic weather conditions turned them into a devastating firestorm. 180 people were killed (or later succumbed to their injuries) and thousands were left homeless. More then a million acres of land was burnt out, over 2,000 homes were destroyed and almost 12,000 head of livestock perished. I remember that day as my home was also in danger and though we were lucky enough to only lose some crops, so many people we knew lost so much more. If you're interested in finding out more, the ABC did a fantastic (and terrible) documentary showing exactly what happened that fateful day. You can watch it on Youtube by clicking here - Black Saturday Bushfires.
Back at the festival, Emma and I mostly spent our time chatting and listening to the music. We both love to people watch (who doesn't?) and we took great delight in seeing the various types of people who came out to celebrate the festival. We also hit the sausage sizzle stand to get a couple of good old Australian BBQ sausages in white bread with onions and tomato sauce (for those of you who aren't Australian, this is a classic and traditional dish of the Aussie culture).
Eventually, after wandering around and hitting up the food trucks a couple of times and listening to all the warm up acts, it was time for the man of the hour to hit the stage. Troy Cassar-Daley really is in a league of his own when it comes to live performances. Whilst the other singers and groups were good, he was fantastic. His energy and welcoming nature had everyone tapping their feet and singing along with his hits.
There was a brief intermission in his performance, which was to allow the 9pm fireworks to go off. For a small country town, it was a great display and the kids in the audience were beside themselves with delight. 10 minutes later and Troy was back on stage and kicking on to his next group of hits.
The evening ended just before 10pm and the whole night went off without a hitch. The music was great, the sound quality was good and the atmosphere was fun. As far as we're aware, there was no bad behaviour and everyone seemed to have a good time - including us!
So if you're ever interested in checking out the Whittlesea Country Music Festival (now heading into it's 17th year), I would highly recommend it. It's a lot of fun, and best of all, it's FREE! No tickets, no bookings, no waiting.
Until next time,