Cygnet Folk Festival

So I was in Cygnet with 3 travelling companions who were becoming family, we camped on a large expanse of lawn under beautiful oak trees and had but a five minute walk into the main street of a town filled with anticipation of the oncoming festivities. We were tapped in, we were flowing, the world was in our favour and we were in its. Friday saw us perusing the streets, surprise encounters with friends filled us with glee and we floated like butterflies from place to place.

We talked about Cygnet when we left Melbourne, I wasn’t keen on buying a ticket so we decided to go without and see where we could get in without a wristband. There was a free stage in the park that had some good acts, else we schemed and plotted our way in to the paid venues. I was having so much fun, my reckless abandon, powerful grin and light skip along the town’s footpath was more than any ticket could bring.

Although exciting, I discovered that the Friday was tame relative to the wild two days to come. The opening ceremony was in the evening, I missed it and chilled out in the van for a while before heading back out later on. The night fell, Daniel, Lauren and I, joined by Sarah walked the streets, our legs ached, we were tired so went to the park to lay down. Sarah is a young German backpacker who has been travelling for years existing solely on income from busking, she absolutely loves the life and it shows. The four of us sang songs in the park for hours, I felt energised once again, eventually Sarah said goodbye and the three of us slunk back to camp.

Lauren and I had spoken to Yvonne on the Thursday and found she was hosting a poetry slam the next morning. We arrived at the venue just in time to go on stage and recite some verse. I walked into the converted church, seats like pews lined up for mass, intense rainbow stain glass windows lit up the stage while on the wall behind the mic a large wooden cross held up the town’s lord and savoir – an acoustic six string. It was a small crowd so I had an easy time acclimatising to the performance. Yvonne invited me to read at the next show, Poets Breakfast, early Sunday morning.

Upon exiting the church we walked toward the centre of town and did a double take as the place had transformed since the day before – buskers lined the streets, old timey piano, accordion and washboard players, solo guitarists, didge players, percussion, impromptu jams between musicians – sounds, colours and colourful folk were everywhere. The park was completely different, scores of market stalls lined the edges while artists flung beautiful music to the audience sat under the great trees in the heart of the free space.


I was in complete ecstasy, I walked not ten metres down the street before running into a beautiful friend and sharing hugs and conversation. Everything was a delight to my senses, I spoke with such enthusiasm, I laughed and I loved and led myself on glorious adventures. In the afternoon I was on my way back to rest when Seb an old friend from Adelaide caught me, it had been so long since we had seen each other, so long that I had short hair and a shaven face. We stood at the shop window and talked at length.

Later that day I ventured back into town and to my delight saw Hannah and Sari, Hannah had her stall of jewellery for sale so Sari and I went to get some beer from the local bottle shop. A lot of the cherry picking crew from Barbara’s place had arrived at Cygnet so we hung out in the park singing songs and sharing stories. After a while I agreed with Sari to break away from the group and go check out the town, we took a bottle of wine with us and snuck into an outdoor venue, well fenced and guarded except for a thick hedge right in the side of the field, we pushed our way through the scrub and emerged victorious, eager to experience the forbidden delights.

We sat down at the main stage just as an act was coming on, Siskin River were a sister duo, they made a few words before commencing and soon after floored us by their performance, one sister making amazing sounds from her acoustic bass and the other on vocals, we shook our heads in awe as the music carried us into the heights of sensory pleasure. The end of the act resulted in us partaking in CD sales, a great decision as I have been re-listening to their songs ever since.

The sun was going down, the party was coming up, we found ourselves at a house half way along the street, an old veranda transformed into a stage where musicians wrote their name on a blackboard for a performance, the whole place ended up in an amazing hours long jam between coming and going artists – electric guitar, djembe, acoustic, violin, electric cello – singers threw words or just sounds into the garden and the roof was raised as we danced on the grass under the crab apple trees.

The next morning I dragged myself out of bed as one would a wet sandbag up a flight of stairs, constantly fighting myself over attending the early morning poetry slam. I made it to a coffee and after talking my way through the security guard found myself at the same venue I had snuck into the day before. Great poets took the stage and I had an opportunity to speak in front of a much larger audience, the energies were high and my confidence was bolstered – I was feeling much more comfortable about being out of my comfort zone and very happy about having the strength to lift that sandbag.

The rest of the day I hung out with Shantelle, she mentioned that she was getting a few days work at a local orchard and took me for a walk around the outskirts of the town to try and get me a job, no joy as the warehouse was closed today. I was feeling kinda flat and decided to go back to the van to rest, by the time I got there I was feeling horrible, the last few days had gotten to me perhaps – I lay in bed and let my emotions, body and mind ransack my attention – ouch.

Later that afternoon part of me wanted to go back into town and party – I didn’t want to miss out, – the more sensible side won and gratefully so as the travelling quartet all lay in the van to watch a movie with chocolate and hot chai, we were in nurtured bliss and felt so much love toward each other. This would be our last night together, the next day I would stay around Cygnet while my friends would find a ride to the Rainbow Gathering. This time came and we said long loving goodbyes in a circular hug before they boarded their transport and drove a final lap through the recovering town of Cygnet.


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