We are all familiar with the flood of festivals that dominate the local calendar from the multimillion dollar Sydney Festival to the smaller well-funded suburban affairs. But what if you are a tiny NSW outback town with a population of around 40, a minuscule budget compared to the city folks and very little infrastructure. Would you ever be mad enough, or brave enough, to stage your own festival?
When it comes to Carinda, a town in the far North of NSW, the answer is a resounding yes! Their Let’s Dance festival, to be held over the coming October long weekend, is expected to draw punters from all over Australia, descending on this both remote and romantic bush outpost like racegoers do at Birdsville. So what is the magnet that sees hundreds of campers, back packers and travellers attracted to this one pub town?
It’s partly the pub itself but more importantly its most famous patron David Bowie, who filmed his iconic Let’s Dance video way back in 1983. Since then the hotel has become a mecca for Bowie fans from all over the world and a kind of outback shrine since his death last year. As the festival organiser, local farmer Mo Regan explains,
“The idea came about standing around a fire one night about a month after Bowie had passed away. We got chatting over a few drinks and came up with the idea to honour David Bowie with a tribute concert. Then we found there was also another group of people with the same idea so the collective consciousness of the town was on the same page! We formed a committee and went for it – with no funding what so ever.”
The initial festival took place last year, with Bowie fans coming from as far as Tasmania and even the UK. This year the celebration will feature the unstoppable Jeff Duff and his band as well as local musicians, markets and food stalls plus lots of country hospitality. If you are travelling to Carinda, which is about two to three hours drive from Dubbo, you will need to bring your camping gear and a few basic supplies. There’s plenty of free space at the local Carinda camp space with no bookings needed.
The open air concert Saturday September 30 and Sunday October 1 will be performed next to the campsite with Duffo performing a re-enactment of David Bowie’s classic Let’s Dance in the Carinda Hotel on Sunday afternoon. There will also be a Red Shoe homage fence where people can bring an old shoe along, paint it red, sign it and hang it as well as lots of activities for kids such as a jumping castle, animal farm, face painting and drumming workshops.
Organiser Mo Regan is keen to stress the appeal of the town itself, especially if you are a city dweller who seldom journeys out of the concrete jungle.
“Carinda is a genuine outback experience and for those who have never ventured over the mountains Carinda offers that fair dinkum Aussie encounter. It has its wide open spaces, big skies and wildlife everywhere and therefore it’s an artist’s delight, whether that be photography, art, music or just somewhere to sit still” she enthuses.
Pack your swag and book your ticket now at: www.letsdancecarinda2017.eventbrite.com.au