Happy Wanderer Festival

Posted by - - Festivals, Review

As festival season in the Southern Hemisphere winds down, we reflect on the sheer glory of summer in Victoria, looking back to where it all began many festivals ago…

Back in November, the sleepy farmer’s town of Benalla came to life as 800 revellers flocked to a farm usually only inhabited by cattle, for the sixth instalment of Happy Wanderer.

For 3 days and 3 nights, Wanderers were treated to a truckload of entertainment, from music to workshops to a rubber duck race that had the entire campsite transfixed.

The musical stylings of Ruby Gill, Meiwa, Danny Walsh Banned and Thando welcomed wanderers on opening night. Ruby Gill in particular performed spectacularly, following up with a second performance at the Bower stage on Sunday. Her funny, poignant lyrics captured the hearts (and imaginations) of the crowd and had us laughing and crying in equal measures.

Thando, who first played the festival with her band back in 2015, too played an incredible set from the Truck Stage. This time, she had returned to headline HW as an established solo artist, and it’s not hard to see why her career is flourishing. Her soulful tones hypnotised the crowds and drew a perfect close to first night proceedings.

As the sun rose each morning, the site became alive with chatter. Morning yoga ironed out sore muscles after a night of dancing and the smell of coffee wafted through the fields, awakening even the sleepiest of wanderers. The order of the day was… whatever the hell you fancied. Some lounged, some swam, some danced, some workshopped – even the most taxing of agendas would accommodate a nap or two.

Guitarist Adam McGrath kept wanderers amused, despite barely getting through his first song before suffering a broken guitar string. The improvisation that followed was arguably as entertaining as his planned set, channelling his inner stand-up comic with a dialogue that had everyone in stitches.

As the sun set, the temperature dropped and the tempo lifted. Fairly lights and fire pits illuminated the site and a characteristically eclectic array of performers graced the stages. Dancing followed..

Sunday was the annual duck race, The Melbourne Duck if you will. It was a day of firsts, as I witnessed my first ever duck auction, then had the pleasure of seeing 26 rather proud rubber duck guardians race their babies down the river to the finish line.

The duck auction also helps raise funds integral in keeping the festival running, making it an even more worthy cause to get involved with.

Happy Wanderer 7 might seem like a lifetime away, but it’s never too early to start planning for next summer now, is it? Keep your eyes peeled for tickets and be sure to save the date: 1-4th November, 2019.

Toes in the earth, love in the heart, laughter in the belly, wander together to a place you belong.