Bush doofs—raves or festivals in the scorching outdoors—are a very Australian tradition. We take a close look at one of the country's favourites.
These kinds of pure-joy moments are a regular occurrence at Strawberry Fields, a festival that, after 11 years, is easily one of Australia's best. It showcased everything from the banging fury of Helena Hauff and the snarling electro of Roza Terenzi to hands-in-the-air house and disco, live funk and soul, and moody minimal. The crowd seemed open and adventurous while upholding the festival's friendly, rough-and-tumble spirit. Once again, on the banks of the Murray River, thousands of music fans gathered for three days of dancing—and it was bloody great.
As you approach the festival site, which sits near the rural NSW town of Tocumwal, the impact of the ongoing drought—as well as some stunning Australian scenery—creeps into view. You could also spot ravers loading up on booze at nearby shops. (Strawberry Fields is BYOB.)
Thanks to the bone-dry conditions, dust is a persistent presence onsite.
The stages and set pieces are directly inspired by the bush surroundings, as well as nodding to the festival's psytrance origins.
The Beach stage is a major highlight. A tin-roofed, treehouse-style shack looks out onto the Murray River, where people swim and splash the day away. The opening afternoon saw a buzzing crowd gather in the sweltering heat to see Animals Dancing and Young Marco. When it got too hot, people cooled off however they could.
As twilight approached, Eris Drew and Octo Octa went back-to-back on the Wildlands main stage, drumming up a raucous, first-night energy.
Things got darker and harder into the night. Derrick May made way for Helena Hauff, who thrashed it out for her debut Australian set.