If you found yourself driving up the breathtakingly, unique East Coast of Tasmania during early July, and you did so with the car windows open, you would have heard the magical sounds of singing voices as you turned the corners. They would come rolling towards you over the hills, sometimes the sounds of instruments could be heard, and if you listened really intently, you would also hear wineglasses cheering, children playing and waves crashing onto the beach.
Festival of Voices Coastal has become the latest addition to the annual, long running, community-inspired festival celebrating voices and music that Tasmania calls Festival of Voices. This year I was asked to cover three of the festival locations along the coast and for two days I got to not only hang out with a crew of like-minded, fun colleagues from my past, I also got to combine my work with my love of live music, on what was a beautifully sun drenched July weekend sent to us straight from heaven.
Bicheno Lion Park had the seasoned and wonderful Ben Salter head the lineup of musical acts including The Surreal Estate Agents. Families, the young, the old and even the odd canine settled on the grass to take in the sounds from the stage set amongst gumtrees, with the glistening Bicheno coast as backdrop. Food and wine was served from little mobile vans and tents, and for three hours people from across Tasmania gathered to enjoy a completely relaxing Saturday afternoon.
That same evening performances continued at White Sands Estate further up the coast, and The Splendid Gin flowed freely as the multitalented and simply lovely Ange Boxall kicked things off in the fairy light-covered venue, followed by the clever and thoroughly hilarious Mother’s Ruin before Henry Wagons took us on a journey of cracking musical rock and roll delights. With performances stretching from cabaret to country, Americana, country and old skool rock and roll, I dare say all moments were enjoyed immensely by everyone in the room judging from the volume of their laughter and the size of their smiles. I went to bed that night with a real sense of contentment, you know the feeling you experience after spending an evening in great company, listening to amazing, original musical performers and laughing with friends?
The next morning we woke to the sun casting its July rays on the coast and took the road back down south towards our Devil’s Corner destination. Positioned amongst the vineyards and looking out towards majestic Coles Bay, the grass slope in front of the stage was packed with people ready for an other afternoon of sounds from Tasmania’s own impressive star Maddy Jane as well as the also uber talented and loveable All Our Exes Live in Texas. Looking at the stage, at people’s smiling faces and children dancing on hay bales, whilst roaming the site with my camera capturing portraits and scenes in the Tasmanian landscape, I pinched myself. It was just one of those moments that I know will stay with me for a long time – joy.
The dates for Festival of Voices and Festival of Voices Coastal 2018 were recently announced (29 June to July 15) so f you want to make the most of your July next year, take a road trip for the day or the whole weekend to chance feeling some of that same joy, get your crew in the calendar now and start the countdown.