Meredith With No Meredith

We head to the country town to check the festival site and chat to locals before 12 500 music fans descend next week.

Meredith is a small town that sits halfway between Geelong and Ballarat, 100 kilometres west of Melbourne.

The town is home to a decent golf course and a rural fire brigade but with a population of less than 1000 not a lot goes on. But every December 15 000 revellers descend over a weekend for the annual Meredith Music Festival. Now into it's 25th year Meredith (along with it's younger cousin Golden Plains Festival held over the Labour Day weekend), has grown from a few mates throwing a party on a farm into one of the most respected and best music festivals in the world.

I had heard stories of the alleged supernatural power of the amphitheatre and natural landscape. But these tales of enlightenment and connection with nature were unable to be full described in our limited human language. So I decided to go check out the place for myself and have a chat to some of the locals before the flood of 15,000 people washes in next week.

The site is neatly nestled amongst open fields, hay bales, and windmills. Take photos. Send your grandma a postcard.

Walking around in anything other than bare feet would be an insult. The grass is basically perfect. But that will change next weekend so bring some shoes.

So fresh and so green.

There are two types of people in this world. Those who would roll around in this grass, and those who would not. The latter have no soul.

The Supernatural Amphitheatre. Eerily quiet. Quietly beautiful.

Next week this tranquillity will be no more.

These logs have seen some shit man.

Imagine looking at that flamingo when it it is lit up at night. On acid! I don't do drugs but if you do take acid then do look at the flamingo. Just stop before it starts reading your mind. Moderate your flamingo staring time. Moderation is key.

View of the Supernatural Amphitheatre from the mind reading flamingo.


Meredith's main street. I wanted to get an authentic perspective on what the town is like without the festival so I decided to ask some locals.

Stacey, 20

What's it like to live in Meredith?
I like it. It's really quiet but I prefer it to Geelong. There are a lot of good people out here.

How does the festival impact you?
Its hectic, it gets really crazy but I enjoy it. We get a lot of business at the pub during the festival and I meet a lot of different people who come in with interesting stories so it's good.

What's Meredith like usually?
It's a lot quieter for a start. We had a karaoke night the other night so we do a lot of things like that. It's a very close-knit community.

Have you been to the festival?
No I work here throughout the festival but I have friends that go that absolutely love it. It's a lot more chilled than other festivals like Stereosonic.

Bernie, 52

What's it like to live in Meredith?

Care to elaborate?
Every day is the same. The only thing that changes is the weather. Same old same old, we're all farmers; we go through the seasons and talk about the price of wool and the price of wheat.

Will you ever leave?
Well I'm still here. I've been here since I was 10 and I'm more than 10 now.

Caitlyn, 21

What's it like to live in Meredith?
It's pretty quiet. But I enjoy the peace and quiet. It's a bit hard to get around if you don't have a car, which was in issue when I was younger.

How does the festival impact you?
Traffic gets crazy but it brings a lot of money to the community. Festival weekend gets very busy. The roads get ridiculous – people just flood in. it gets difficult for people to get out of the house and go to work and the school buses to Geelong and Ballarat run late – we have no local high school here.

Are there many people your age here or do they tend to head to Melbourne as soon as the chance arises?
Maybe not so much Melbourne, more so Ballarat and Geelong. I don't really talk to much people my age here. There were only 16 people my age here when I was in Grade 6 so there's not many.

What's Meredith like without the festival?
Nice and peaceful.

Claire, 42

What's it like to live in Meredith?
It's good. It's a good little community. In winter it's very dead, so between Easter and September it's very cold, it snows here and gets much too cold, nobody comes into town.

How does the festival impact you?
We start planning for it a month ahead, so we've already organised extra stock for food and alcohol, and staff members have been organised months ago to make sure we're covered. I really love it though, because the people that come into the pub on their way to the festival are just so happy and it's a party atmosphere. On the Friday of the festival we crank the music up at 7am and it's blaring into the street. Everyone's just here to have a good time. That's another thing I really like about the festival – the no dickhead policy.

Meredith Music Festival Dec 11 - 13

Looking to get to Meredith but stuck for a lift? Try The Supernatural Express - a direct bus service which stops right at the Supernatural Amphitheatre direct from Southern Cross station.