Thursday 25th November – Yonder Festival 2021
Coronavirus Lockdown Day 613
2,117 cases: 3 new (acquired interstate, detected in hotel quarantine), 5 active.
After only 3 hours sleep I got up early and packed the pile of stuff I’d got ready last night into the car, managing to leave home just after 6 AM. I almost immediately drove into a torrential downpour—the kind of rain where it’s difficult to see where one is driving—which didn’t seem like a very good sign. However, the rain stopped an hour or so out of Brisbane.
The drive up took 2 hours 20 minutes, getting me to the gate (at 77 Tincknell Road, Imbil QLD 4570) a bit past eight. I’d been told that no one could get in until 9 AM, and that there would be a big queue, and that failing to get in early would mean no shady camping spot which would mean I’d wake up super early each morning when it got too hot. However, none of these things turned out to be true—while I think patrons were turned away until 9, as a photographer I was let in (after a lot of confusion and failed attempts by the gate staff to contact other people via their walkie-talkies) and found a nice shady camp spot, where I set up my very terrible Kmart tent and spent an inordinate amount of time putting a tarp up over it. It started to sprinkle lightly just as I finished setting up my camp, but didn’t rain during setup, which was nice of it.
Being now prepared for the much-talked-about (but suspiciously absent) fearsome Yonder sun, I headed up to HQ to get my wristband and lanyard and formally become a festival photographer. It didn’t take long until the rain—which had so politely stayed away while I set up camp—came down in earnest. I headed back to my camp to find that quite a lot of the significant runoff from the nearby Spiegeltent ran right to my tent, which was already almost under water. I’d forgot to bring a shovel, so borrowed a broken one from a nearby camper, and dug myself a heroic moat. By the time I’d finished the moat the rain had eased off enough that the water was no longer high enough to use my moat, so I couldn’t be sure if it would actually work, but at least I’d tried—and the tent still seemed to be dry inside.
I discovered almost immediately that shoes weren’t going to cut it, with some of the areas I had to walk through being deep enough to capsize anything other than the largest of gumboots, and switched to thongs—which were abysmal for going up any kind of hill, but did at least let all the water and mud immediately out again each time I walked through any of the muddier areas.
Being now wet-Yonder festival-ready, and having never been to Yonder before, I spent the rest of the day exploring and trying to take some photos from under my umbrella. It was mostly fairly quiet, with programming not starting until later in the afternoon, and the rain dampening things somewhat.
Friday 26th November – Yonder Festival
Coronavirus Lockdown Day 614
2,116 cases: 0 new, 5 active.
I had a fantastic sleep and a nice sleep-in in my surprisingly comfortable tent, with my mattress and in the overcast shade—which I think may be a first for me at any festival anywhere.
Everyone had pessimistically predicted that today would be wetter than yesterday, but while there were a couple of seriously heavy downpours overall it wasn’t as bad. The muddy areas, however, were much worse—all the people trying to avoid the worst of the mud had managed to churn up any of the remaining mud-free areas, making it difficult to get some places. Annoyingly, there was no way to get from the showers to my camp without going through quite deep mud, making showering to get clean largely theoretical.
The festival had now got into full-swing however, with everyone having a lot of fun despite the rain. From the amount of people who told me how deathly hot and dusty it had been previous years, it was starting to sound like rain and mud might actually be better.
Saturday 27th November – Yonder Festival
Coronavirus Lockdown Day 615
2,117 cases: 1 new (detected in hotel quarantine), 6 active.
Today hit the sweet spot—it didn’t rain much, but it remained mostly overcast so wasn’t too hot. The mud even started to dry a bit, so while I still couldn’t get from the shower to my camp without going through deep mud, a lot of the other paths dried up enough that I could walk around on them without getting entirely muddy.
We’d been made to select various acts and things we wanted to photograph from a roster, and while I’d selected mostly timeless things (like “People photography”), I’d selected most of my time-based stuff today, the logic being that I’d have had time to get a lot of other photos and be familiar with the festival by now—so between today being the first day dry enough to take the photos I’d planned to have taken by now, and me being rostered on to photograph lots of things, I was quite busy and unfortunately missed taking a few photos I’d been hoping to get once the rain stopped. I didn’t even get time to get my drone out, which was a shame.
Still, overall I think I managed to get some nice shots, and had a fun time at my first Yonder—even though someone did steal my (really obviously labelled in bright orange with my name and phone number and quite impossible to mistake for someone else’s) phone charger from HQ, which sucked.
Sunday 28th November – Yonder Festival
Coronavirus Lockdown Day 616
2,120 cases: 3 new (detected in hotel quarantine), 7 active. Contact tracing locations added at Brisbane Airport.
The festival ended last night and most people left this morning, but I was entirely camped-in—being unable to even try to move my car until at least a few of the campsites in front of my packed up. I was pretty sure, given the mud, that there wasn’t any chance I’d be able to drive out regardless, so I packed up my camp and then chilled somewhat impatiently all morning until the people camping in front of me packed up their camps. I didn’t leave until 2:30 PM, by which time it was just starting to sprinkle lightly again though it had been dry all morning so the mud had dried slightly. Many people had become bogged and been pulled out by tractors all morning, and all the driving on the road seemed to have actually flattened it a bit. I didn’t think it particularly likely I’d be able to drive out, but I gave it a go and to my surprise didn’t get bogged at all. I’m pretty sure there’d have been no chance I’d have been able to get out if I’d been able to leave earlier.
The two-and-a-half-hour drive back to Brisbane was uneventful other than me being sleepy, and I was home by 5.
I drove over to Bronwen’s parents’ place to pick up Bronwen—who had been off climbing somewhere—and we had dinner at the Anise Club on the way home.