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8 New Breed Australian Music Festivals Worth Travelling For

8 New Breed Australian Music Festivals Worth Travelling For

Australia, it would seem, has lost its enchantment with big festivals. The recent news of the death of Soundwave’s touring festival, after Future and Big Day Out also being sent to the grave, is a pretty solid indicator that whether for economic factors or input from punters, that’s not what we’re looking for anymore. Big camping festivals like the multi-state Falls Festival and Splendour In The Grass are still around and still pulling sell-out crowds every year, but even they have lost the niche stronghold they had over the festival scene just a few years ago.

This is where a new breed of Australian festivals have come in to fill that void. Rather than travelling to various states and creating crazy lineups on 400 stages and with 50,000 campers, these festivals are boutique in every sense of the word. They’re often in locations that are a bit off-the-beaten-track, accept far fewer punters to give everyone a bit of space and dignity, and place more emphasis on the festival – equally valuing the music, food, accommodation and activities on offer. It’s an exciting and incredibly fun concept, and the good news is that there are plenty popping up all over the country so you can work a holiday in to your plans too. Here’s our pick of the bunch that are worth travelling for.

#1 Sugar Mountain

(Photo: Sugar Mountain/Facebook)

A top-class festival that doesn’t even require leaving the CBD? Sign us up! Sugar Mountain is a one-day Melbourne event celebrating music and visual arts is held in the hallowed halls of the Victorian College of the Arts. It’s perfect if you can’t get those days off work to roadtrip for a festival – but equally worth dropping into Melbourne for. The 2016 edition of the event, on January 23, is an absolute banger – with Hot Chip, Dirty Three and Courtney Barnett headlining the music side of things alongside an amazing local and international lineup, and visual artists like French/Japanese NONOTAK, a world premiere, and Daniel Askill. There are plenty of ticket options (plus a cheapo Christmas special offer – get in quick!) whether you’re keen on just the festival or want to relax in style, and the best part is that $10 from each ticket goes to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – so you’re saving the world while having a boogie. What a winner.

#2 Disconnect

Though Disconnect is over until next December, we’re already counting down the days to the follow-up event for one of Australia’s best new festivals. Held in the tiny ex-orphanage village of Fairbridge about an hour south of Perth, the festival combines stellar Australian and international lineups, comedy, great food, fun activities (I mean, they have a swimming pool!) and a real sense of community among punters. It’s a perfect excuse to spend a few days before or after the festival exploring Western Australia – the event is held between Margaret River and Fremantle so there’s plenty to explore. Disconnect is genuinely the most idyllic early summer festival going around at the moment – pop it on your list.


#3 A Festival Called Panama

(Photo: A Festival Called Panama/Facebook)

Just when you thought festival season was over until Splendour In The Grass hits us mid-winter, along comes A Festival Called Panama – or, as we like to call it, an excellent reason for a roadtrip through beautiful north-eastern Tasmania. The boutique three-night camping event is held in Tassie’s Lone Star Valley in the middle of March, and the lineup is stellar. With acts like CW Stoneking and our Grammy-nominated Aussie superstars Hiatus Kaiyote alongside some of the country’s best up-and-comers in Crepes, Marlon Williams and Methyl Ethel, it’s perfect for a few chilled-out days of bliss. As well as the music contingency, there’s a clothes swap, late-night soul bars and a whole host of local food stalls. I mean, anything involving Tasmanian produce and we are on board. Plus, it’s held on a cider farm. Enough said.



They’re not joking, guys – there will be some serious FOMO if you miss out on Brisbane’s best new party. A one-day event at the city’s Riverstage, you’ve got a hugely diverse lineup from RL Grime to Jamie XX, fan faves Flight Facilities and plenty more in a jam-packed day on one stage, so as to avoid any clashes. These guys certainly know what a crowd wants, too – alongside the music you’ve got food like Juan More Taco Truck and Doughnut Time. Dancing and doughnuts? I think I’m in heaven.

#5 Paradise

(Photo: Paradise/Facebook)

We’ve gotta hand it to you, Victoria, you’re pretty good at this whole festival business. If you like the best in local music, Paradise is the one for you – perfectly curated tunes, BYO booze and partying late into the night in the stunning Victorian alpine region of Lake Mountain. Though you’ll have to wait until next November for the event to roll around again, it’s well worth a visit if you fancy yourself a bit of a tastemaker, or just want to discover some of our best new music gems.

#6 One Night Stand

It’s not exactly your standard festival per se, but triple j’s One Night Stand event is a perfect way to explore a new regional area of Australia every single year and see some of the country’s best musical acts. After taking a well-deserved break in 2015, the event is coming back next year with a vengeance. We don’t yet know where it’ll be or who’s playing, but that’s half the fun – figuring out where exactly you’ll need to roadtrip to and heading in for a night of partying, and if we know triple j, we know the lineup will be second to none. Oh: and did we mention it’s free? You’re welcome.

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#7 Mountain Sounds

(Photo: Mountain Sounds Festival/Facebook)

Aaaaand the brilliant lineups just keep on coming! Moving along the East Coast to NSW’s Central Coast now, Mountain Sounds – held in the Mount Penang Parklands in February – exists to “create a unique and contemporary festival experience that combines a range of music genres and aesthetics in attempt to replicate the Australian landscape, culture and way of life”, which is pretty great. A sustainable and eco-friendly event, the two-night camping festival features Albert Hammond Jr, Art Vs Science, Holy Holy, Delta Riggs and the new object of Prince’s affection, Harts, among countless other brilliant acts, local food and a general party weekend, really.

#8 Lost Paradise

lp grounds

Now, you’ve had Paradise festival, but this is Lost Paradise – but there’s nothing misplaced about this NSW cultural experience. More than simply a music festival, Lost Paradise brings together tunes, food, glamour and a little bit of soul-searching to bring in the New Year in style. From glamping options to the fancy dress night on New Year’s Eve, or long and lavish communal feasting tables bringing some of Sydney’s best and most exclusive restaurants to a festival vibe, you can’t miss this. When you’ve filled your belly and need to shake it off, you’ll be dancing to the sweet sounds of Angus & Julia Stone, Four Tet, Hot Dub Time Machine, Jamie XX, Northeast Party House, Seekae and too many more to name without weeping of excitement. To calm your boogie feet down, the festival also provides meditation, belly dancing, yoga and ‘laughter yoga’, which can only be a good thing. Forget three nights – we want to live at Lost Paradise forever.

(Lead image: Sugar Mountain/Facebook)

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