Golden festival keeps giving back to the community

March 17, 2023 BY

Knows country: Ballarat’s rising star Freya Josephine Hollick rocked the crowd in the Supernatural Amphitheatre at last weekend’s Golden Plains Music Festival. Photos: STEVE WOMERSLEY

TWICE a year, just past a bend on bumpy road about ten minutes’ drive west of Meredith, a moderately sized sheep farm comes to life.

Not with the hustle and bustle of shearing season or round up, but as more than 12,000 people come together for peace, love and music.

This Labour Day long weekend, it was for the Golden Plains Music Festival.

As the sounds of a stella line-up rang out across the venue known as the Supernatural Amphitheatre, behind the scenes everything you’d expect from a small city was taking place.

But more than just setting up and bumping out, the Golden Plains Music Festival, and its big sister Meredith Music Festival, seek and have created a lasting impact on the local community.

Jackie Ferry has been volunteering at both the festivals since 1991.

“We run business in the town, we want to see Meredith continue to prosper as a small rural community,” she said.

“If you look across the Western District small towns are becoming ghost towns, and Meredith has this amazing opportunity to assist all the local community groups. It’s fantastic.”

Found at the top left of the Supernatural Amphitheatre is a place known as the International Food Court. It’s where the party people can find food from around the world.

Front and centre is the Community Tucker Tent. Staffed by volunteers, money made during the festivals goes back into the community groups who work it.

The Meredith Memorial Hall, primary school, kindergarten, cricket club, rec reserve, seniors footy club, and golf and tennis clubs all benefit, along with festival founder Chris Nolan.

Across the two festivals, each club raises about $10,000.

“What an amazing gig for a community like Meredith,” Ms Ferry said. “We don’t have to do chocolate stands and all the rest of it.

“A lot of the sporting clubs with just struggle, totally struggle, with out it. This is what finances them.”

David Osborne, treasurer of the Meredith Tennis Club, agreed.

“The tennis club has 55 junior participants on court each week,” he said. “This gives them the opportunity to be able to eventually have courts that are appropriate.

“This money comes in every year. We’re not out there struggling every waking moment to try and bring it all together.”

A fan raises her hat to Carly Rae Jepsen as the confetti blasts off

As for who goes to Golden Plains, it’s an eclectic mix of old and young, locals and those from across the state, nation and world.

There’s rockers and ravers, culture jammers, crews, and mums and dads.

The music is just as varied, this year the event was headlined by Canadian pop star turned indie icon Carly Rae Jepsen.

She was joined my UK reggae and R’nB legends Soul II Soul, Melbourne dolewave practitioners Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, all-girl punk rockers Bikini Kill, and Ballarat’s own rising country star Freya Josephine Hollick.

Simon Monk and Ross Mackenzie have started making the trek an regular one in 2020 before the 15th iteration of the event was shelved until this year.

“We try and do it as an annual catch up although we’ve had two years off,” Ballarat resident Mr Monk said.

“Golden Plains is our thing, it’s to catch up with mates and just the vibe.”

Mr Mackenzie had made a bit of a longer trek than the 30-minute drive down the Midland Highway. He’d flown from Cairns.

“First time back before the work went mad,” he said. “It could be some statement about the COVID reaction on the world, but it’s really just a chance to get together.”