I Slummed It at Falls Fest and All I Got Was This Shitty Comedown

I’d never been to a camping music festival before, in my mind I pictured people sitting in hippy pants, passing doobs around and singing kumbaya. I was sorely mistaken. The festival itself was actually great, all the acts killed it and the crowd partied harder than Charlie Sheen at an all-you-can rack cocaine buffet. While the festival delivered, camping turned out to be a battle against the elements, the likes of which I’ve never experienced in my life.

We started our Falls trip in sublime fashion, pulling up to the Byron Bay campgrounds 15 minutes before they were due to close. After being waved through without being searched (Noice), we found ourselves at the very end of the campsite, quite literally the furthest away we could possibly be. However, it was the eve of the festival so we tried to get into the spirit of things and enjoy the atmosphere… after we spent two hours trying to set up our tents. With the tents set up, we ventured into the festival in search of an overpriced, under-strength, refreshing low carb beer. Our thirsts somewhat quenched, we decided to head back to camp and rest up for the big day.

I’m not sure if many of you have slept in an oven before but that’s exactly how I felt sleeping in a $30 pop-up Kmart tent. I crawled out of my tent after the sun rose at 6 am, like a frail baby exiting the womb, scared of sunlight and just wanting to collapse and die somewhere.

Two tents and my oven in the middle.

For about 5 hours my friends and I sat in silence, occasionally grunting to check in on each other. During this time, our gazeebo would fly around and our tents pegs would come loose, neighbouring campers would often ask if we needed help but we were quite sure that the gazebo would settle down, eventually.

I started to think that maybe I wasn’t cut out for festivals, maybe everyone was enjoying the heat and I was being a little bitch. Then I heard “Do you want apple or mango juice?” How come we didn’t have juice? Where was our selection of juices? How come every tent I walked past seemed to be doing better than us? Why were we eating sweaty bread that had been left in the sun for 2 days and dipping it into liquid peanut butter?

Day 2 brought the same hellish heat and longing for death that the first did. Once again, I was cooked in my oven until I emerged like the hot, sweaty sesh slug I am. The quest to get food was literally unbearable, walking along the dusty road in search of a $15 serving of small nachos is probably the last thing I wanted to do on New Year’s Day. The heat beat down as we trekked the 2kms from the campsite to the festival. I like to think that our walk was a lot like when Jesus’ carried his cross, except without the reality of imminent death and probably a little bit hotter.

The second day of the festival was easily more bearable than the first. Everyone was having a good time, tinnies were flowing and the acts were killing it. What I realised by the second day was that getting lit when camping was not a great combination. Normally, you’d be able to crawl into a comfy bed, charge your phone and maybe watch some Netflix until you pass out. When camping, it’s essentially like getting super fucked up and then going to sit in a dark, uncomfortable room where you can’t really make too much noise and you have to sleep on the floor.

The bare necessities and a terrible gazeebo

However, by day 3 I had learned to adapt. I realised that dirt was a much more effective sunscreen than any man-made substance, sleeping in the shade was better than being cooked in a tent and wet wipes and a splash of water was just as good as a shower. I wasn’t fucking around, I learned how to perfectly conserve body energy so I didn’t have to overexert myself. Day 3 culminated in me sitting on a hill watching Bernard Fanning, an afternoon storm rolling in and sinking a coupla tinnies. I’d learned to love the life I’d lived over the last couple of days and the raindrops that fell on my head felt like a perfect conclusion to the festival.

Then the raindrops got a little bit heavier, the clouds looked a little bit darker and the wind had a harsh chill to it. Earlier, I had stupidly declared to my friends that “Anyone complaining about the rain after these last few days is an absolute arsehole.” Mother nature made me regret those words as rain poured down from the skies and people began to run for shelter. I wasn’t afraid, I’d learned to master the elements and the rain was actually soothing my 3rd-degree sunburns. Though eventually, I broke. After standing in the rain for 2 hours waiting for Catfish and the Bottlemen, I turned to my friend Glen and said “It’s all a bit much isn’t it?” to which he replied “Yes.” and we fucked off to our campsite.

Power Walking through the torrential rain while expecting my tent and belongings to be drenched in water was pretty tough, but having to listen to the girl next to me who kept saying “She hopes the caravans dry” and “Wow you must be so freezing!” definitely put a downer on the night. When we got back to camp I looked in my tent and saw it there was 4 cm of water on the ground, I realised I was pretty much fucked. I ended up sleeping in the back of the car, waking up at 6 am to grab my possessions and leaving the tent there.

I genuinely did enjoy Falls and when I realised how shit my cards were I actually started to have a great time. I met a lot of great people, had some really fun times and saw a lot of great music. Overall, it was a really great time and I don’t think I’d change anything about it.

Except for my tent, my tent can get absolutely fucked.


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