Six Things I Learned at Splendour by Yara Murray-Atfield

After three-and-a-half days of mud, music, and mates at the North Byron Parklands, Yara Murray-Atfield has returned home with some life lessons.

1. It is remarkably easy to sneak in illicit substances

Taking in drugs and alcohol is strictly banned at Splendour in the Grass, but try telling that to the tens of thousands of punters who were completely off chops for three days. My friends and I snuck in a few litres of spirits, and although we were promised our car would be searched, we breezed on in with a bottle of vodka squeezed down into the backseat. Our efforts, however, were completely tame in comparison to the couple who camped next to us, who told us how they hid a slab of beer, two bags of goon, a few bottles of Jager and a bag of pills in their van.

2. If there is even the slightest chance of rain, buy a pair of gumboots

The forecast for Byron Bay for the weekend of the festival was for miserable weather: rain, fog and cold mornings. I thought I’d still be fine with my trusty Big W tennis shoes – they’d served me well at festivals before – but I was completely wrong. Before the festival even started, it was Splendour in the Mud, with any sign of green completely trampled and hidden under layers

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of slippery muck. Capitalising on the rain, stalls were selling gumboots for upwards of fifty dollars. I stubbornly refused to fork out such a large sum, so spent half of the weekend leaning on friends’ shoulders while I tried to put my shoes back on my feet. Those bad boys were discarded the second we drove out of the campsite.

3. If you hire a car with a meme on the side, be prepared for ridicule

If you’re under twenty-one, finding people to hire you a car can be tough. We ended up getting a tiny little car from Wicked Campers – a few tents, bags and five girls barely fit. The car itself was ridiculous-enough-looking as it was, shaped like a cube with a tent on top of the roof, but the icing on the cake was one side emblazoned with “‘Nice Southern Cross tattoo mate’– said no one ever” accompanied by a meme face. A lot of people met us with a huge grin and a photo, but some others weren’t so happy. Festivals are the primo location for bogans with Southern Cross tattoos to converge, so I spent a lot of time trying to hide my face when people went past.

4. Baby wipes are life-savers

I’ve been to plenty of camping festivals before, but this year’s Splendour takes the cake for muddiest and dirtiest. Your standard Portaloo has nothing on the mud-caked, smelly, clogged toilets we had to use for three-and-a-half days. There was no respite in the showers, either: a three-hour wait for a tiny plastic cubicle – probably crawling with germs – wasn’t the most appealing way to spend a morning. We all relied heavily on baby wipes, hand sanitiser and dry shampoo to at least present the illusion of cleanliness. The shower I had on my return home was a heavenly experience.

5. You will never be able to see every act you want to

Frank Ocean is about half of the reason I bought tickets to Splendour. His album Channel Orange was my favourite of 2012, and I’ve been wanting to see him perform for years. When a drunk and bearded fella told me Ocean had cancelled due to ruptured vocal chords, I spent the next day quickly working my way through the seven stages of grief. I finally arrived at acceptance when watching the new headliners Of Monsters and Men, although I think I may have trust issues after the cancellation. All the headline acts got moved back an hour, resulting in a clash between two of my favourite artists, Alt-J and James Blake. There was also the agonising choice between Flume and The National, who finished Saturday night off on different stages.

6. Festival fashion is endlessly entertaining

What is it about festivals that make girls hate the idea of wearing pants? There must be something in the combination of tents and music that forces hemlines way up to an almost non-existent level. Half of the punters seemed to be perpetually covered in mud, and the other half immaculately dressed. The most extreme case was a group of girls curling each others’ hair using the power point under an industrial light. There was also the obligatory same-outfit-every-day, a virtual Noah’s ark of people in animal onesies and obnoxiously-sized headgear. There were also far too many blokes in lycra: there comes a point of diminishing returns when the horror of seeing far too much of somebody’s junk outweighs the mildly amusing sight of a group of boys in head-to-toe pink.

Yara Murray-Atfield



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