Going to music festivals solo

As the great Vanilla Ice once said, 'I'm on a roll, and it's time to go solo.' Whether your mates don't share your taste in music, festivals or Melbourne-Cup-Carnival-avoidance, or you're just plain up for a weekend of choosing your own adventure, festivalling solo can be really, truly wonderful. 

Here's why it's great:

- It's a truly rad adventure to a place where a community springs up out of the ground for a few days - and you can wade into the thick of it or observe from the edges.

- You can do exactly (ok within reason) what you want all the time. Wanna nap from 4 - 9 and party all night long? Go ahead. Want to wake at the crack of dawn for yoga, and put yourself to bed at 8:30? Knock yourself out. Want to sit under a tree just close enough to the stage to hear the tunes and read a book? Yesmaam, getit. Want to dance dance dance and hug strangers? Strong chance of a yes.

Now, you're probably allll over camping and festivalling solo, but here are a few of our tips just in case.

1. Carrying stuff is going to be fun. So hack that by getting a big ol' wheelie suitcase and chucking most stuff in it. Tent, pillow, sleeping bag, the lot. Two wheelie suitcases if you need one just for shoes. No judgement here. 

2. Don't panic about getting your tent up solo - someone always offers to help. If they don't and you need a hand - just ask. 

3. If you want to meet people you can't beat a good boogie. Head straight to the middle of the dance floor and shake it like nobody's watching. Don't know where to look? Be mesmerised by the guitarist's fingers. Too easy. 

4. Want to start a conversation? "Hi, I'm X" or "Do you live close?" are fairly winning openers. 42% of conversations will die into weird silence. No worries, just say, "I'll see you around," smile, and wander off. But the 58% that don't? Whooooweee, some beautiful things have sprouted from those.

5. Take care of yourself with sunscreen, hat, insect repellant and all that jazz, drink water, eat regularly - and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. From smearing sunscreen onto that impossible to get bit in the middle of your back, to directions and more - festival people are some of the friendliest you'll find. 

Do you have tips for festivalling solo? Throw them in the comments, we'd love to hear them!

The local’s guide to Benalla op shops

Who wants to give away the secrets to their local op shops? Nobody that’s who. It’s a generous soul who reveals that the address for the Salvos in Google maps will take you to the mission and not the shop. Well, we just happen to be those generous souls. Besides, we cleaned out all the good Ken Done sweaters and vinyl last week.

It’s a pretty simple, yet gold-mine like setup here in Benalla. Four op shops, all arranged along this easy upside-down-T-with-inconsistent-serif.

Map of Benalla op shops

Your first stop over the bridge is that secretive Salvation Army Thrift shop at 5 – 9 Bridge Street, Benalla. This place is big – super well-organised. The kind of place where the ‘good stuff’ has its own rack. But you’ll still find some hidden treasure.

The Salvation Army Thrift Shop 5 - 9 Bridge Street Benalla

Toddle around the corner and you’ll find Yooralla Ballandella Op Shop at 73 Nunn Street, next to the NAB. It’s an old school storefront literally stuffed with ah, stuff. Do some digging here and you’ll find some gems. Not to mention if you get there on the right day (so far, every day) you can fill a bag of clothes for five bucks. Five bucks. That’s a denomination barely clinging to its own note. Brilliant.

Ballandella Op Shop 73 Nunn Street Benalla

Head further up Nunn Street for a bit to number 41 and you’ll find the behemoth that is Benalla Vinnies. You name it, they got it. Give yourself a little bit to wander around and take it in.

Vinnies Benalla 41 Nunn Street Benalla

Now for a little power walk (or alright, drive if you must, I guess you can’t really pedal that vintage Val Kilmer framed print) over to the Red Cross at 59 Carrier Street. Do a couple of loops of that one, and you’re done. You’ve had the Benalla op shop tour experience. How do you feel?

Red Cross Benalla 59 Carrier Street Benalla

If you’re like us, you feel a little smirky for nailing such finds, and a little like you need a coffee. So then we head to One Wild Apple – coffee and tunes. Excellent.

Benalla op shops

Here you go, and remember Uncle Google doesn’t know where Salvos is, but you do.

Salvation Army Thrift Shop
5-9 Bridge Street, Benalla

Yooralla Ballandella Op Shop
73 Nunn Street, Benalla (next to NAB)

Vinnies
41 Nunn Street, Benalla

Red Cross
59 Carrier Street, Benalla

Bonus coffee and tunes stop:

One Wild Apple
2/43 Bridge Street, Benalla

ppsssst! You there! Special reward for reading this far... ;) If you happen to be in town on a Tuesday, word on the street (Bridge Street) is that the Baptist Church has a wee op shop that's open from 10am - 1pm on Tuesdays! 

Farmer wants a festival

There’s one call festival director, farmer and (not that he’d admit it) tall dark handsome chap Mark Foletta can rely on each year, and that’s the one asking him if he’s ready to be on TV show Farmer wants a wife. (So far, no dice.)

A festival, however, is something he’s prepared to commit to. And one of the major reasons for having Happy Wanderer Festival, is to share the beautiful farm he grew up on and his own adjoining property.

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A race for ducks

Every year at Happy Wanderer, there’s a duck race down the river, where wanderers cheer on their plastic pals, dogs attempt to steal them and one duck is pronounced winner, then a band wades in and plays in the river. It’s wonderful. And strange.

Duck race_HW4_2.jpg

The other directors sure thought it was strange when Mark Foletta, resident farmer and rubber duckie wrangler pitched it. He got the idea from a friend who mentioned they used to have leaf and stick race down the river. “I thought we could race rubber duckies, so it's a bit easier to determine a winner. The festival falls on Melbourne Cup weekend so it could be called the Melbourne Duck. I still remember the boys were like, ‘Duck race? What are you on about?’”

“Anyway, it ended up being a real highlight.” Wanderers are also attached to their ducks. One year Trevor, a classic yellow rubber duck was retired. When it came to auctioning the ducks for the race, the crowd weren’t pleased. “There was someone in the crowd, that actually was heckling me, going, ‘Where's Trevor?’”, says Mark.

Mark with Trevor.

Mark with Trevor.

Out of a field of 26 ducks, one little pink duck has managed to win the race two years running. The ducks were named five years ago when the directors were a little bit more rambunctious, so this fast little pink duck is inexplicably named G-string. For reasons unknown, it’s won two years running and came in at least top-five every year.

2015 winner G-string with owner Zoltan. Image: Brendan Tonkin. 

2015 winner G-string with owner Zoltan. Image: Brendan Tonkin. 

The duck auction helps raise funds to keep the festival running – the directors and organising committee are all volunteers, and the directors help fund the festival.

So there you go.

Happy Wanderer 5 incredible lineup

Today's the day! We're announcing our Happy Wanderer 5 line-up and without getting too emotional about it - gosh wow what an... honour. Ok we said it. Thank you to each and every band that applied. We wish that time were not so stubbornly finite. 

Here's a list of the wonderful humans who will be playing Happy Wanderer this year - click the links, bathe in the awesomeness like we have been for the past few months. 

Get your tickets, because this one's going to be a dead-set doozy! 

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Looking back on five years of wandering

“When we were kids, my sister and I were rifling through a drawer and found some old photo albums. One had pictures of what appeared to be a festival. We asked Dad about it and he said, ‘Oh, well, back in the day, we used to hold the Yin Barun Beer and Wine Festival,’” explains Mark Foletta, sustainable farmer, winemaker and forager. “It had music, and a big tent and everyone swam in the river. There was even a slippery log contest, where you had to walk across the log and try not to fall in. It was always a childhood dream of mine and Sally’s: ‘Oh, one day we'd love to get that up and going again.’ Then life gets in the way...”

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First artist announcement for Happy Wanderer 5!

With over 160 applications from talented musical folk, it's been tough but awesome whittling them down into a line-up that will get you swaying, reminiscing, dancing and jumping. There's so much fantastic talent in this country and we encourage you to get out and see as much of it as you can.

Each year we've had a collection of outstanding up-and-coming and established artists across genres, and 2017 will be no different. We are very excited to share our first artist announcement with you. Get your ears around this!

Adam McGrath (roots/rock)

Echo Drama (dub, reggae, hip hop)

Good Stuff DJs (Zol Balint and Claire Lefèbvre)

Hollie Joyce (garage rock)

Immigrant Union (psychedelic folk/country)

Liv Cartledge (singer songwriter)

Mandy Connell (folk)

Rat Child (jazz, neo-soul, blues)

Super Magic Hats (electronic)

The Woodland Hunters (roots/rock)

Whiskey Dram (heavy folk rock)

 

Let us know what you think on Facebook or Instagram. We'll be announcing another round of artists soon.

Tickets have been selling quickly and early this year - we're up to our second round of early bird tickets and they're on sale at $140+bf until 31 July or sold out. These rounds have been selling out super early, so get in quick! Full-price tickets will be $180+bf.

Early bird catches the worm

Happy Wanderer artist applications have now closed and we've been spending our time listening to some rad tunes from over 150 bands that applied to play at Happy Wanderer 5.

We’re stoked! There's sure to be some passionate discussion but however it shakes out, it’s going to be an EPIC line up come 3-6 November.
 
We don’t want our Wanderers to miss out on tickets once the line up is announced so, we've released our Early Bird tickets a little early (like even earlier than the bird).

Early Bird Tickets are just $120 + bf (full price is $180, so, bargain!). Tickets include three days and three nights of music, most activities and camping.

In addition to an epic line up of music, we’ll have our beautiful morning yoga, heaps of ace workshops (some free, others a small fee), rad food trucks keeping us nourished and our ever-faithful chai tent.

Early Bird round 1 tickets are on sale until 30 June, or sold out.

Meanwhile, the cows are having a lovely time on the festival site.